They say you have to wait a few years to get a better handle on draft grades, so The Sideline View's attempt to re-grade the 2010 NFL Draft earlier this week makes some sense. We're four full seasons removed from that draft, and I think most would agree it was a pretty important draft in 49ers history.
Aside from just the picks, that was a significant transition point for the 49ers. General manager Scot McCloughan left the team a month prior to the draft in a rather bizarre set of circumstances. Current general manager Trent Baalke was serving as Vice President of Player Personnel at that point, and became what most would view as the de factor GM at that point. He did not formally get the job until the end of the 2010 season, but at that point, he was sort of the guy in charge.
At the same time, you had a fairly powerful personality in Mike Singletary in the war room during that draft. We'll never know with complete certainty who was responsible for what that day. Given how big that day was for the future of the 49ers, it would be nice to know, but I doubt we will ever get the complete story.
This was an important draft going in because the 49ers held a pair of first round picks. The previous year, they had dealt a second and fourth round pick to the Carolina Panthers in exchange for the Panthers 2010 first. The Panthers put together a fairly blah season, which resulted in that pick becoming the No. 17 overall pick. The 49ers had their own No. 13 pick following a disappointing 8-8 season of their own.
On draft day, the 49ers made two trades of note. The first saw them trade their first and fourth round picks to the Denver Broncos to climb up to No. 11 and draft Anthony Davis. The 49ers then traded their third round pick down to the San Diego Chargers in exchange for the Chargers third round and sixth round picks, and then also the Chargers 2011 fourth round pick. For full accounting, in moving down, the 49ers grabbed NaVorro Bowman with the third round pick, Anthony Dixon with the sixth round pick, and Kendall Hunter with the 2011 fourth round pick.
It is also worth noting the 49ers acquired Ted Ginn Jr. prior to the draft in exchange for their fifth round pick. In terms of rookies, the 2010 NFL Draft resulted in the following for the 49ers:
1 (11). Anthony Davis, offensive tackle, Rutgers
1 (17). Mike Iupati, guard, Idaho
2 (49). Taylor Mays, strong safety, USC
3 (91). NaVorro Bowman, inside linebacker, Penn State
6 (173). Anthony Dixon, running back Mississippi State
6 (182). Nate Byham, tight end, Pittsburgh
6 (173). Kyle Williams, wide receiver, Arizona State
6 (173). Phillip Adams, defensive back, South Carolina State
At the time, grades were a bit of a mixed bag for the 49ers. Mel Kiper gave them a B for their work, saying:
Give San Francisco credit. Early on in the draft it had a chance to get better in a couple of places and decided to get a lot better in one. But consider the trickle-down effect: By taking Anthony Davis, the left tackle with the highest upside in the draft -- emphasis on "upside" -- and then a lock to be a good NFL guard in Mike Iupati, the Niners are a better running team right now. The passing game suddenly seems better, as well. Taylor Mays at No. 49 is a good value selection, and the kid will be motivated, but I think we're past pretending he was a steal because of his size-speed combination. His tape fell really flat. Navorro Bowman has size questions, but he's better than No. 91 overall.
Pete Prisco gave the 49ers a C for the Davis pick, a B for the Iupati pick, and a B+ for the Bowman pick. Unfortunately the page with the Taylor Mays grade does not work.
And that's part of the rub of that 2010 draft. The team spent a mid-second round pick on a guy they dealt away after only one season with the team. We don't know who was responsible for which picks, but I have to think we can infer Singletary had some kind of say on the Taylor Mays pick.
In re-grading the draft, The Sideline View gives the 49ers an A. The 49ers have retained three players from that class, but did receive some contributions from Anthony Dixon and Kyle Williams. TSV had the following to say in their re-grade:
The only thing really, truly keeping this grade from being an A+ was the selection of Mays in the second round. The much ballyhooed high school recruit from the state of Washington rode a massive hype wave throughout his USC career, culminating in a second round selection. He didn’t even make it to the second season in San Francisco. Other than Mays and Byham, the 49ers got excellent value from everyone on this board.
Although "only" three players remain on the team from this class, I think we'd qualify this as a success. They've got a long term right tackle, a long term inside linebacker (who happens to be one of the best in the game), and a very solid left guard, who may or may not make it to his second contract with the team. You are always going to want more from a draft as the years pass, but all things considered, this worked out pretty well.