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They Were Our Future! Nolan Carroll and Aaron Hernandez updates

Why am I writing about these guys you ask? Simple--they were the players selected with the draft picks we gave up. For those who weren't around last year, the name is in reference to a certain poster who showed up after Kory Sheets was nabbed from the practice squad. His username was KORY SHEETS WAS OUR FUTURE (all caps his), and every post he made bemoaned the fate that was sure to fall the 49ers because of us letting Sheets go. (He also had a thing for Shaun Hill.)

There was a significant amount of debate over giving up a 5th for Ted Ginn, and even more for giving up a 4th to move up to grab Davis.

Join me after the jump as I examine our draft trades and the players selected with those picks.

3rd round:
49ers trade their 3rd round pick (#79 overall) to the Chargers for their 3rd round pick (#91 overall), their sixth round pick (#173 overall), and a 2011 4th round pick. With the 3rd round pick the Chargers picked Donald Butler. With the Charger's pick we grabed Navarro Bowman. With the 6th round pick we grabbed Anthony Dixon.

4th round:
49ers trade their 4th round pick and 1st round pick to the Broncos to move to #11 overall for Anthony Davis. The Patriots traded their first round pick (#22 overall) to the Broncos for the 24th overall pick. The deal included the 4th round pick that the Broncos picked up from the 49ers.

With that 4th round pick the Patriots picked TE Aaron Hernandez

5th round:
The 49ers acquired Ted Ginn Jr from the Dolphins for a 5th round pick. With that pick the Dolphins selected Nolan Carroll.

Last week I hopped on over to the Pats Pulpit and the Phinsider to see what news they had on these players.

Patriot fans seem pretty high on Aaron Hernandez (pun intended). There's not much doubt he makes the team. He's already signed a deal that's heavily laden with incentives. It's a four year deal worth a total of $2.378 million. His signing bonus money was $200k, but he has roster bonus money of $76k, $90k, $104k, and $114k. The Patriots are concerned about his alleged multiple positive tests for marijuana so this is how they've chosen to deal with his concerns. It's a smart contract in my opinion.

User brady12mvp3 had this to say about Hernandez:

depending on the the set the pats open the game in he might start a few games but most likely coming off the bench he is going to be what they call a move te in the clark/cooley style we hope as good as those 2 . he is a oversized wr more then a blocking TE. he is going to play some h-back some te play in the slot a little split the seams open the middle of the field.

User Comedic.Sans followed up with this:

There are three things to bear in mind.
1) Gronkowski and Crumpler are both bigger, taller and more capable of blocking, so they're likely the #1 and #2 ‘true' TEs in one and two TE sets. Any 3 TE sets, and Hernandez is likely the guy who lines up in the ‘move' TE position just back of the line.
2) The Pats aren't carrying a true FB on the roster this year, so it's likely the Pats will try Hernandez in a Chris Cooley-like H-back role at times.
3) The Pats have a great slot WR in Welker, but he's coming back from surgery, so they could well employ Hernandez as a Dallas Clark-type slot TE/WR while Welker recovers, or when the opposition isn't suited to cover a guy like Hernandez in the slot.

Hernanez is a versatile guy, so he could be a FB/TE/H-back/Big WR at different times of the season. I suspect that if he plays well, they'll find ways to get him onto the field, much like how they did with Julian Edelman last year. He'll also be used wherever he'll create matchup issues, so he could be bouncing between H-back, TE, and slot receiver pretty freely.

Q. How's his progress been during mini-camps and OTAs? Any news good or bad about him?

A.Impressive, by all accounts - he's catching almost everything thrown at him, and he's getting a fair percentage of the reps alongside Gronkowksi and Crumpler. It seems that he's mostly being used as a receiving-type TE in the slot, but he's also been used on the line as a Y TE, at fullback/H-back, and even at halfback, apparently.

Hernandez's contract is interesting. It's very incentivised - he has to make certain performance targets and be available for a certain amount of games to hit the late-contract escalators. Most commentators have suggested that's because he's considered a little bit of a risk due to his testing positive for marijuana on one (and maybe more) occasions. If he's clean and he plays, he gets paid a fair amount. If he's cut or suspended, he loses a hefty chunk of the cash. There are definitely more strings attached to his contract than some of the other rookies in the Pats, so it seems they're taking the risk seriously.

Finally, Pats beat writer Sean Crowe says this about Hernandez (the article is short and worth reading):

Hernandez will be the 3rd tight end behind Alge Crumpler and fellow rookie Rob Gronkowski, but he won't be a traditional 3rd tight end. If OTAs are any indication, Hernandez is going to be used extensively in the passing game.

The Patriots are hopeful that he can be their Dallas Clark, a small-ish tight end who basically serves as an additional wide receiver. The Patriots know all-too-well how those types of guys can be nearly impossible to cover.

Over at the Phinsider the fans were equally high on Nolan Carroll. The Dolphins have also reached a deal with Carroll. It's a four year deal worth $1.981 million and includes $191,000 in signing money. There are some escalators that could push the deal signicantly higher.

Beat writer Barry Jackson had this to say about the rookies:

Although offseason practices shouldn't be overstated, several rookies have made a strong early impression on veterans. We polled more than 15 incumbent Dolphins about which teammates -- rookies or veterans -- have impressed them, and cornerback Nolan Carroll and linebacker Koa Misi were mentioned the most.

``Nolan is real athletic and quick -- he will play a lot of years in the league,'' Yeremiah Bell said.

Jake Long said Misi ``is quick off the line, very strong for his size.'' Channing Crowder added, ``He's still getting a rush even when he goes against Jake and Vernon Carey.'' Quentin Moses said ``college to the NFL was night and day for me, but Misi has made the transition easily. He looks so smooth; his motor stands out.''

Apparently he's being used mostly on special teams and has been working out as backup nickel corner.

Funnily enough the conversation got derailed with Kory Sheets talk (some fans loving him, others not so much), and Ted Ginn Jr talk (same deal). It's an entertaining read, so head on over there and enjoy it.

They Were Our Future! Questions about Nolan Carroll