I am going to run a series of stories in regards to the history of each San Francisco 49ers draft pick this season. The series will last up until the 2011 NFL Draft. Today, I am going to focus on the 7th overall pick, and who has been drafted there over recent seasons.
As you will see below the #7 pick has been a pretty good slot in recent NFL Drafts. This does not mean that the 49ers will somehow "luck out" simply because they are picking in this slot. What it does is give us some preface to the quality of players available here.
Note: For the purposes of keeping these articles somewhat short I am only going to look as far back as the 1990 NFL Draft. Feel free to add some players that have been selected #7 overall prior to the 1990 season.
1992: CB- Troy Vincent, Miami Dolphins: In his 15 year NFL career, Vincent made the Pro Bowl five times, and contributed to many elite defenses. He finished what may be a Hall of Fame career with over 700 tackles and 47 interceptions. Vincent led the NFL in pics during the 1999 season with the Philadelphia Eagles. But, he brought a lot more to the game; he was a true shutdown corner during his heyday.
1993: WR- Curtis Conway, Chicago Bears: Conway was highly regarded coming out of USC, but still there is a question to whether or not he lived up to expectations. He was never a true #1 WR on any of the teams he played, but did have an extensive career, in which he produced a great deal. In 12 seasons Conway caught nearly 600 passes and had a total of 52 touchdowns. His best season came for the San Diego Chargers in 2011, when he caught over 70 passes and accumulated the best of his three 1,000 yard seasons.
1994: DT- Bryant Young, San Francisco 49ers: Simply put, one of my favorite 49ers of all-time. BY, as we call him, is a sure fire first ballot Hall of Famer. San Francisco won their last Super Bowl Title his rookie season, and the production continued from there. BY finished his brilliant 14 year NFL Career, all with the 49ers, with almost 90 sacks, made the Pro Bowl 5 times, and played with a passion unmatched until Patrick Willis came a long.
1996: WR- Terry Glenn, New England Patriots: Glenn started out strong, went through a rough patch with Bill Parcells, and then found his stride later in his career. Overall, I would have to say that he had an extremely successful NFL Career. In 12 seasons, Glenn had over 1,000 yards receiving four times and caught 44 touchdown passes.That said, considering his status coming out of Ohio State I would have to say that Glenn did not fully live up to his potential, making the Pro Bowl just once.
1997: WR- Ike Hilliard, New York Giants: Hilliard continues the WR theme of this post, and he was a solid contributor throughout his career. Despite never making a Pro Bowl, Hilliard was your consummate professional. In an extremely productive 12 year Career, Hilliard never topped the 1,000 yard mark, but did finish with 546 receptions, 6397 yards and 35 touchdowns.
1999: CB- Champ Bailey, Washington Redskins: One of the best corners in the history of the game, Bailey has been a game-changer throughout his career; and is still going strong 12 years later. Stats alone cannot show what he has done for both Washington and Denver. A 10 time Pro Bowl performer, Bailey has 48 interceptions, while opposing quarterbacks smartly look away from his side of the field. Additionally, Bailey has compiled over 700 career tackles and 152 passes defended. We can only hope that Patrick Peterson is available at #7 and turns into Bailey 2.0
2000: RB- Thomas Jones, Arizona Cardinals: After being considered a bust following a real unimpressive Arizona Cardinals career; Thomas Jones has been one of the most productive running backs over the last few seasons. Since 2004, Jones has rushed for a total of 8,200 yards and 56 touchdowns; still reigning his with the Kansas City Chiefs as part of a nice 1-2 punch with Jamaal Charles.
2001: DE- Andre Carter, San Francisco 49ers: Still an extremely productive player, Carter never really lived up to local expectations with the 49ers following a stout career with CAL. Since joining the Washington Redskins following the 2005 season, Carter has compiled 34 sacks, and been a thorn in the behind of opposing offensive linemen. Was he worth the 7th overall pick? I am not sure, in Carter's five seasons with the 49ers, he only had double digit sacks once.
2002: OT- Bryant McKinnie, Minnesota Vikings: McKinnie has been one of the most unheralded offensive tackles in the game since 2002, making the Pro Bowl just once. However, we have seen him turn into an elite tackle, blocking for Adrian Peterson, among others, during his Minnesota Vikings career.
2007: RB- Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings: One of the most electrifying running backs that I have had a pleasure to watch. I wasn't around when the likes of Eric Dickerson, Walter Payton, and O.J. Simpson were tearing up opposing defenses. But, I did have the pleasure to watch Barry Sanders, Emmitt Smith and Marshall Faulk do their thing. Peterson is cut out of the same cloth, all be it a different type of runner. Since being drafted AP has done nothing to disprove those who touted him as one of the best coming out of Oklahoma. Peterson has made the Pro Bowl all four seasons he has played, rushed for nearly 5800 yards and 52 touchdowns. However, I see a couple issues in regards to AP. First, he leads the NFL in fumbles since joining the league (21), and may have a short shelf life because of the way Minnesota uses him. He has touched the ball over 1300 times in four seasons. Still, one cannot doubt that he will end up in Canton one day.
2010: CB- Joe Haden, Cleveland Browns: Boy, did he have an impressive rookie season. I honestly believe that Haden is already that shutdown corner that the 49ers are most likely looking for this season. He turned a real bad Cleveland Browns secondary, into an above average one; and in doing so, raised some eyebrows. Haden only started six games in 2010, but compiled 6 interceptions, 50 tackles and a whopping 18 passes defended.
Overview: The #7 spot has been team friendly over the course of the last two decades. We have seen five possible Hall of Fame players drafted here since 1991, and many other solid pro contributors. But, what you didn't see on this list was a wide array of "busts". Starting with Andre Ware in 1990 and ending up in 2009 with Darrius Heyward-Bey in 2009. In between the likes of Mike Mamula and Troy Williamson have been drafted here as well. But, overall you have to look at the #7 spot as extremely productive recently. If the 49ers are looking cornerback at this spot in 2011, history bodes well for them. All three corners drafted at this spot since 1990 have been standout NFL performers. Two, Vincent and Bailey, are sure to make a trip to Canton in the next decade or so. And, the other, Joe Haden, has an amazingly high ceiling. If the 49ers are looking at A.J. Green or Julio Jones, which I don't think they are, the history isn't as great. Terry Glenn, Curtis Conway and Ike Hillard had solid, but not standout careers. While the likes of Roy Williams and Troy Williamson have been complete busts. As with every draft pick, there is a bust equation we need to take into account, but the #7 pick has a real solid history of the last 20 years.