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They Were Our Future!

Those of you around last year remember the Pink Panther Watch, where we looked at the Panther's season to see where we might end up picking. A week or so ago Fooch asked us which underdog player we liked most in Player X Is Our Future!

The reference is in regard to a poster who called himself KORY SHEETS WAS OUR FUTURE. After Kory Sheets was cut he came by asking why we let him go, claiming that Sheets was the future of the Niners and that the NFL was controlled by the Mafia. WHY DID WE LET KORY SHEETS GO. His posts were always entertaining and it became somewhat of an inside joke.

We made some draft trades that some folks liked and others hated. Some thought they were a waste and that we could have found valuable backups or starters for the 49ers with those picks, and as a result of that the idea was created to do a tracking of these players for the 2010 season and see what became of them.

The first trade happened before the draft when we traded our 5th round pick to Miami for Ted Ginn Jr. Miami would use that pick to select Maryland CB Nolan Caroll.

We would then trade our 4th round pick to Denver to move up to the 11th overall spot. They would end up trading that pick to New England who used it to grab TE Aaron Hernandez.

We also swapped 3rd round picks with the Chargers and we both ended up with linebackers. The Chargers selected Donald Butler out of the University of Washington and we got Navorro Bowman out of Penn State. I've gathered together some quick statistical information on these college players as well as a couple of highlight videos which I'll present after the jump.

Donald Butler, LB University of Washington


In the 3rd round we swapped picks with San Diego. They used their pick to grab LB Donald Butler out of the University of Washington. He was a solid linebacker who had a great senior season where he recorded 91 tackles, 1 sack, 3 FF, and 2 INTs. He was projected to go as high as the mid second round but slipped.

Butler was not an extremely highly touted recruit coming out of high school, but it did not take him long to make an impact on the Washington defense. He was just one of two freshmen to see playing time for the Huskies in 2006 and he responded quite well, totaling 24 tackles on the season. An injury limited him to just eight games in 2007, but he still managed to start four games and end the season with 52 tackles.

Butler started to become a really good linebacker during his junior campaign, but it was not until his senior season when he moved back to the inside linebacker spot when he really took the next step. That is when he led the team with 94 tackles and added an impressive 15.5 tackles-for-loss. Most people stopped paying attention to Washington football a while ago, but Butler deserves a ton of credit for being a leader on that side of the ball. Butler is an extremely strong player and with a little work on his technique he can be a great run stopper in the NFL. And it is not like Butler is slow either. He performed better than most inside linebackers at the combine by running 4.62 40 yard dash and improved that number to 4.61 at the Huskies pro day. Washington's superb senior season and his solid showings at the combine and his pro day are quickly moving him up draft boards. After Rolando McClain, there is not another inside linebacker worthy of a first round selection, but Butler has made a strong case for himself to be the second taken and that could happen as early as the second round.

Butler highlights (he wears #9)

Navorro Bowman, LB Penn State


Bowman had an incredible junior season. He notched 106 tackles, including 16.5 for loss. He also had 4 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 1 INT, and 4 PD. He had first round talent but also was involved in a fight in 2007 that led to him being suspended for 3 games and pleading guilty to disorderly conduct, which may have scared teams away. He also admitted to smoking marijuana which caused his probation to be extended. One scouting report had this to say:

Navorro Bowman is the best 4-3 outside linebacker prospect for the 2010 draft. Bowman has great speed for a 232 pound linebacker and is equally effective rushing the passer or dropping into coverage. Bowman has obvious first round talent, but his mile long list of off-the-field incidences might scare some teams away. Through just 33 games, Bowman has tallied 215 tackles, 36 tackles for loss, 8 sacks, broken up 12 passes, intercepted 3 passes, forced 3 fumbles, and even blocked a kick on special teams. He also recovered a fumble earlier this season, which he ran back 91 yards for a touchdown. Bowman is excellent against the run, and rarely misses a tackle if he gets his hands on the ball carrier. He has solid coverage skills, and the speed to turn and run with NFL tight ends and running backs. He will need to work on not biting on play action, because his speed won't save him at the next level. Bowman has decided to fore go his senior season and declare for the 2010 draft.If a team can look past his run-ins with the law, Bowman could go in the late first round and no later than the early second round.

Navorro Bowman did not have the combine performance he had hoped for. He ran a disappointing 4.72 second 40 yard dash. He looked good during position drills, but his speed and athleticism are a big part of his value. He did improve with a 4.61 at his pro day, which should help him.

Bowman is likely to go somewhere in the second round, but may slide to the lower half.

Bowman highlights (for the 2008 clips he's wear #13. He changed to #11 for the 2009 season)

Aaron Hernandez, TE Florida


The 49ers used their 4th round pick to sweeten the deal for Denver to switch places. This allowed us to leapfrog the Dolphins and any possible trade they had lined up. Denver would later trade that 4th round pick to the Patriots who would select Aaron Hernandez with it.

Hernandez was a stellar TE at Florida, though I think he should've stayed for one more year. His junior campaign was his best of his career as he posted 68 receptions for 650 yards and 5 TDs. Hernandez was considered a 2nd round pick but fell to the 4th due to multiple failed drug tests. The Pats got a steal here.

Nolan Carroll, CB Maryland


Before the draft the 49ers trade their 5th round pick to the Dolphins for WR/KR Ted Ginn Jr. With that pick the Dolphins selected CB Nolan Carroll from Maryland.

Caroll is 5'11 1/2" tall, and weighs in at 204 lbs. He was a pretty decent CB and Kiper thinks he might be a steal. His jr hear Carroll had 37 tackles, with 8 PD, but no INTs. He started his senior year with great hopes but broke his leg and missed all but two games. He was invited to the Combine but didn't shine there. He'll be competing for the nickel corner spot.