2011 NFL Draft re-grade focuses on the top of the 49ers draft picks

Al Messerschmidt

The San Francisco 49ers have locked up several members of their 2011 NFL Draft class. They still have some work to do, but for now, re-grading that class is not too difficult.

Over the course of the offseason, we've seen the San Francisco 49ers lock up Colin Kapernick, Bruce Miller, and Daniel Kilgore to multi-year contract extensions. Additionally, the team exercised their 5th year option on Aldon Smith, which locks him up through the 2015 season. That leaves the 49ers with Kendall Hunter and Chris Culliver still unsigned beyond this coming season.

I bring this up in part because Bucky Brooks put together a re-grading of the 2011 NFL Draft. Brooks gave the 49ers an A+. He rated Aldon Smith the best pick, Chris Culliver the worst pick, and Colin Kaepernick the best value pick. I disagree with most of his assessment of Culliver. I don't know if "host of baggage and maturity concerns" is the best way to describe his situation. Culliver has done some stupid stuff, but I'm not sure it's quite as awful as Brooks makes it out to be. Additionally, I don't know if I'd call a third round pick who played a majority of defensive snaps in the nickel before his injury as a mild disappointment. I think you could argue Culliver is as much a question mark as anything else given his absence last season. We'll find out a lot more this year.

Kaepernick certainly proved a great value in the second round, and given that the 49ers got their QB of the long-term with that pick, I suppose it's not the end of the world. But I also think Bruce Miller deserves some kind of consideration. Brooks talks about Miller doing dirty work behind the scenes, and that might sum it up pretty well. His listing as a fullback makes people sort of brush over him, even while acknowledging that he does good work. He's a dynamic player that does a lot in this offense, and considering they flipped him from defensive end to fullback says a lot.

Even if Chris Culliver and Kendall Hunter walk next spring, this draft class has proven to be a home run. If Aldon Smith gets into trouble and the two sides part ways, it takes a bit of a hit. At the same time, walking away with a franchise quarterback, a great fullback, and either your starting center or a solid reserve offensive lineman isn't too shabby. Maybe no longer A+ work, but still really good.

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