Injuries, Character Concerns and Stealing the Draft

Jason O. Watson

One of the things I wanted to post this year was a list of players that have been injured or have character concerns which have caused there draft stock to fall. Our team has probably followed these players more than anyone else.

After all, we're a loaded roster and have a large number of draft picks. It makes little sense to draft players who will not make the roster. Instead, we're likely gamble on players, presuming that they will recover or that their character concerns will work themselves out. We've also seen him draft players who have little experience at their assigned position.

We've seen Baalke sign these types of players in years past. The list is actually quite substantial. It's probably a much longer list than even the faithful realize. Here's a brief and incomplete list from recent years.

Tank Carradine - 2nd round pick, a DE who was speculated by many to go in the top 5 picks were it not for his ACL injury

Joe Looney - 4th round pick, A guard who saw his draft stock fall because of a foot injury that kept him from participating in the combine.

Marcus Lattimore - 4th round compensatory selection, the best RB in college football while healthy, tore his ACL, MCL, PCL and dislocated his knee, as well as tearing his ACL the year prior.

Quinton Dial - A 5th round DE, saw his stock fall because of a foot injury.

Cam Johnson - 7th round pick, LB. Was expected to go in the 2nd-4th rounds, but fell over concerns of a previous leg injury.

Marcus Cooper - 7th round pick, CB, only played one year at the position in college.

Bruce Miller - 7th round pick, a DE converted to a FB in the NFL

Jewel Hampton - UDFA, a stud RB in college while healthy, suffered two back to back ACL injuries

Alex Boone - UDFA, Tackle, went undrafted because of concerns over alcohol use

Luke Marquardt - UDFA, went undrafted because of a foot injury. Had only played as a tackle for one year at a small college. Was converted to from a TE in his senior year.

Lawrence Okoye - UDFA, An unrivalled physical freak who makes Jadevon Clowney look like the last kid selected to be on your team during recess. He never played a down of football in his life before joining the 49ers in 2013.

As you can see, the list is quite lengthy. The 49ers have done a tremendous job grabbing talent in virtually every round of the draft (except the 1st) that has fallen for various reasons. We're in the infancy of players being drafted in the earlier rounds (Carradine, Lattimore, Looney) and won't be able to determine how that strategy has paid off for another year. However, gambling on later round and picks has paid off phenomenally well so far (Boone, Miller, Cooper).

While it's difficult to predict if the 49ers will spend any picks in the 1st through third rounds this year, it's a sure fire bet that you will see some risky picks in the latter rounds this year. Without further adieu, here's a list of players that fit the profile. The "consensus" pick is based on Poldarn's March 22 consensus 5.0 board.

Dominique Easley, Florida, DT - Originally a five star recruit out of high school, he was projected to be a late first round to early second pick. He tore his ACL in his left leg in 2011 and then his ACL in his right leg in September of 2013. He was a very productive player while healthy, and lead his team with sacks (4.0) and TFL (8.5) in 2012 despite missing two games. He also is perceived to lack passion for football because he said he's never watched a full NFL game, saying that he likes to watch cartoons instead (it's worth noting that he's an art major, that he says he loves actually playing the game, and that no coach has ever chastised him for a lack of work ethic).

Consensus pick : 53, on-second round. He's likely fallen in recent weeks because of concerns about his work ethic and the cartoon comment. If we got him in the third it would be a steal.

Isaiah Crowell, RB, Alabama State - Originally a five star player and the #1 rated RB in high school, he ran for 856 yards as a true freshman in the SEC, despite not starting his first game and taking a minority of snaps during his first preseason. And at 5'11'' and 210lb's he's got the prototypical size needed be an every down back.

Despite these qualifications, his draft stock tumbled because he was arrested on multiple weapons charges and dismissed from the Georgia Bulldogs. He enrolled at Alabama State on July 5th in n 2012. There he accumulated 848 yards despite missing 2 games, various injuries as well as missing most of the offseason due to his transfer. In 2013 He had 1,121 yards in 2013 despite missing two games and playing through injury during two more. He has kept his nose clean while at Alabama.

Consensus pick : 4th round, 142 overall. In my mind, this guy is the potential steal of the draft. I think we could use another RB since Hunter is gone next year and James the year after if he's not traded away this year.

Brandon Thomas, Clemson, OG - The most recent addition to the injury-steal watch, Thomas tore his ACL during a workout with the Saints in early April. He was regarded as one of the top three Guards in the draft this year.

Consensus pick : Round 2, 57 overall (pre-injury), now 4th-5th. I'd wager this is the most likely player we'll see drafted on this list.

Jonathan Dowling, Western Kentucky, FS - Originally a 4 star recruit who played at Florida, he was dismissed from the team for an unspecified rules violation. After his transfer to Western Kentucky he accumulated 9 interceptions and 8 forced fumbles in two seasons.

Dowling is also an intriguing physical specimen. He is 6'3'' and had the longest arms of all safeties at 33 1/8th inches. He also had one of the fastest times for a safety with a 4.51. However, at 190 lbs he's very undersized, especially for his height. Worse, he put up only 8 reps for the bench press (it is worth noting that longer arms mean fewer reps, but even then, 8 is atrocious).

Consensus pick: Round 5, 180 overall. This guy has been on my list since before we signed Antoine Bethea. He's not ready to be a starter, but with an NFL weight program and time to adjust to a higher level of competition he could excel. After all, you can't teach height, arm length, or speed and he's got all three. We also need a better (and cheaper) back up option than Craig Dahl. He could serve as a backup and take over for Bethea when it's time for him to retire.

Aaron Colvin, Oklahoma, CB - One of the first players on the Niner Nation radar, he was a three star recruit that improved dramatically and became a two-time first-team All-Big 12 selection (2012-13) and a 2013 semifinalist for the Jim Thorpe Award. He tore his ACL at the senior bowl in January. Originally predicted to be a late 2nd to 3rd round pick.

Consensus Pick: Round 6, 192 overall. Though he's likely to go a bit higher now since he's publicizing how well he can run already.

Colt Lyerla, Oregon, TE - Perhaps the player with the most character concerns in this draft, Lyerla was originally a five star athlete at Oregon before he quit the team early in the middle of his third season for personal reasons. He later charged with and plead guilty to cocaine posession, for which he was give 24 months probation.

Lyerla makes this list because he is an exceptional athlete and a decent receiver. He's 6'4'', 242 lbs, has 32 3/4ths inch arms and 10 1/4th inch hands. He had a 4.61 40 time (third among TE's, Ebron had a 4.60) 39 inch vertical (highest out of all TE's), and longest broad jump with 128''.

Consensus pick: Round 7, 255 overall (there are 256 picks in the draft with compensatory selections). If we could get him in the 7th, he would make an excellent #3 TE that could quite conceivably be molded into a #1 TE. In fact, he could take that place in 4 years as VD inevitably starts to slow down.

I'll try to keep this post updated with any other players that may fall for similar reasons. If I've missed anyone let me know and I'll edit it to include them. I know I'm missing Tom Savage, I'll get him tomorrow.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Niners Nation's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of Niners Nation's writers or editors.

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