Inassessing how I was going to format the final part of this segment I thought it was going to be extremely difficult to come up with solid players in this round. After all, the 6th round really didn't do teams many favors over the last five seasons or so. However, in researching the information I was pleasantly surprised. I think you will be astonished about the amount of players that have been selected in this round during the last half decade.
However, the history of the 49ers specific picks in the 7th round of the 2011 NFL Draft isn't as rosy. I was able to find a couple solid contributors, but for the most part the players selected their really never succeeded in the NFL. Consequently, over three quarters of the drafts since 1990 didn't even has a 250th pick.
Below, I will focus on the history of where the 49ers are picking in specific and the entire 7th round in general. With four picks in the final round, the 49ers hope the history of the last five drafts repeats itself.
1997: FB- Jerald Sowell, Green Bay Packers: It took Sowell a while to break into the starting lineup in the NFL, but once he did watch out. Sowellwas a great lead blocker for a three year span from 2003-2005. I really enjoyed watching the smash mouth type of football that he played. One of the last of a dying breed at that position.
2000: RB- Patrick Pass, New England Patriots: Not really a factor in the offense, Pass was an extremely valuable member of the Patriots special teams unit for seven seasons. Really good in kick coverage, and had the awareness and smarts to make a difference in that role.
2002: OL- Eric Heitmann, San Francisco 49ers: Probably one of the better 7th round picks in recent memory. Heitmann has been a staple in the 49ers offensive line for nearly the last decade, and will remain to be for the near future. He has had an incredibly strong career, has great work ethic and is just an all-around solid player.
2003: LB- Tully Banta-Cain, New England Patriots:Pretty much a non-factor the two seasons he played with the 49ers (3 combined sacks), Banta-Cain has fit perfectly into the Patriots defensive scheme. In 2009 he had a career high 10 sacks and has compiled 15 total sacks over the last two seasons.
2005: QB- Ryan Fitpatrick, St. Louis Rams:Currently the starting QB for the Buffalo Bills, Fitzpatrick had a break-out 2010 season. He threw for exactly 3000 yards and had 23 touchdown pass, compared to 15 interceptions. Since 2008 Fitzpatrick has started 33 games and has six more TD pass (40) than interceptions (34), not great numbers. However, he does have a nice amount of upside for a team looking to take on a project, and that team may be the Bills in 2011.
2007: RB- Ahmad Bradshaw, New York Giants:An extremely electric RB, Bradshaw finally took the bulk of the carrier for the Giants in 2010; the results were great. He ran for over 1200 yards, had an average of 4.5 per rush and scored 8 TDs. Additionally, Bradshaw caught 47 passes out of the backfield for another 317 yards. The one problem that he is going to have to fix is the 7 fumbles he had last season.
2009: RB- Rashad Jennings, Jacksonville Jaguars: A nice complement to Maurice Jones-Drew, Jennings had a breakout 2010 season. Although he only touched the ball 110 times, Jennings had over 680 yards per scrimmage, averaging 6.2 yards per touch. Look for him to get some play in the free agent market in the coming seasons and be a possible Michael Turner like steal.
Best 7th Round Picks Since 2005
2005: DT- Kevin Vickerson (Tennessee Titans), DL- Jay Ratliff (Dallas Cowboys), QB- Matt Cassel (New England Patriots), QB- Ryan Fitzpatrick (St. Louis Rams)
2006: OT- Zach Strief (New Orleans Saints), CB- Cortland Finnegan (Tennessee Titans), S- Jerrad Page (Kansas City Chiefs), P- Ryan Plackemeier (Seattle Seahawks), WR- Marques Colston (New Orleans Saints)
2007: S- Michael Johnson (New York Giants), WR- Chansi Stuckey (New York Jets), CB- Alan Ball (Dallas Cowboys), LB- Brandon Siler(San Diego Chargers), RB- Jason Snelling (Atlanta Falcons), RB- Ahmad Bradshaw (New York Giants), S- Chinedum Ndukwe (Cincinnati Bengals)
2008: QB- Matt Flynn (Green Bay Packers), WR- Steve Johnson (Buffalo Bills), WR- Chaz Schilens (Oakland Raiders), RB- Peyton Hillis (Denver Broncos), RB- Justin Forsett (Seattle Seahawks)
2009: CB- Captain Munnerlyn(Carolina Panthers), P- Pat McAfee (Indianapolis Colts), WR- Julian Edelman (New England Patriots), WR- Sammie Stroughter(Tampa Bay Buccaneers), DT- Ricky-Jean Francois (San Francisco 49ers), K- Ryan Succop (Kansas City Chiefs)
2010: LB- DekodaWatson (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), OL- J'Marcus Webb (Chicago Bears), LB- Jamar Chaney (Philadelphia eagles), CB- Syd'Quan Thompson (Denver Broncos), DE- George Selvie (St. Louis Rams), S- Kurt Coleman (Philadelphia Eagles)
Best Undrafted Players in recent memory: Tony Romo (Dallas Cowboys), Willie Parker (Pittsburgh Steelers), Ryan Grant (Green Bay Packers), Tony Richardson (Kansas City Chiefs), Wes Welker(New England Patriots), Antonio Gates (San Diego Chargers), Jason Peters (Buffalo Bills), Chris Dielman(San Diego Chargers), Shaun O'Hara (New YorK Giants), Pat Williams (Buffalo Bills), James Harrison (Pittsburgh Steelers), Bart Scott (Baltimore Ravens), Antonio Pierce (New York Giants)
Overview: I was extremely surprised to the amount of impact players on the list above. You have All-Pro type performers like Cortland Finnegan, Jay Ratliff, Peyton Hillis and Ahmad Bradshaw. But, beyond that you have rising stars that are looking to take the next step in 2011. I believe that all the players listed above would have been drafted in the first four rounds if their respective drafts were held again. By my accounts there are over 33 players that have had solid contributions to their team drafted in the 7th round since 2005; really not that bad. For the 49ers sake, I hope that history repeats itself; I believe that it might just do that.