This afternoon I am going to look at the 49ers 2010 selection of NaVorro Bowman in the 3rd round of the NFL draft. The former Penn State standout was originally slotted as a 1st round pick heading into his final season with the Nittany Lions, but issues caused his stock to tumble.
The 49ers jumped all over him in the 3rd round after trading down with the San Diego Chargers in order to pick up an additional 4th round pick in 2011. Coincedentally, that 4th round selection was indirectly used to trade up for Colin Kaepernick. Just another example of Trent Baalke understanding the NFL trade winds.
I am a huge fans of Bowman's and really do believe that he is going to be a real good LB in the NFL. He did have his issues in 2010 but came on extremely strong at the end. We still have to remember that he was not only making the transition from the college to the pro level, but also from the outside to the inside. All things equal he is probably ahead of where he should be.
So, onto the comparisons............
3rd Round, 91st Pick: LB- Navorro Bowman Penn State
2010 Stats: 16Games, 1 Start, 46 Tackles, 39 Solo
Analysis: I was super excited when Bowman fell to the 49ers in the 3rd round. What makes it even better is the 49ers acquired a 4th round pick in a trade down with the San Diego Chargers. That 4th round pick was indirectly used to move up for Colin Kaepernick.
Bowman really didn't impress early on and was extremely ineffective against the Kansas City Chiefs in his first extended playing time. That said, he really did pick it up big time towards the end of the season and can be seen as the heir apparent to Takeo Spikes opposite Patrick Willis. In fact, that tandem has an opportunity to be the best in the league; by far.
Bowman has untapped potential and with the right coaching could end up being one of the best steals of the 2010 draft class
3rd Round, 94th Pick: CB- Kevin Thomas USC
2010 Stats: Did not play due to injury
Analysis: Really hard to judge this pick. But, I will say this; even taking the injury out of the equation Thomas was a huge reach in the 3rd round. I remember most boards had him no higher than the 5th or even 6th round.
I wasn't a huge fan of Thomas heading into the 2010 draft because he played too stiff, got turned around a lot and actually gave up some big plays. Time will tell on him, hopefully he is able to recover from the injury
3rd Round, 96th Pick: CB- Brandon Ghee Wake Forest
2010 Stats: 6 Games, 0 Starts, 9 Tackles
Analysis: I really did think the 49ers were going to go corner in the 3rd round, that is why I have both Thomas and Ghee on this list. Ghee really didn't get much of a chance to play, but has a lot of promise moving forward. I am looking for the Bengals to slowly transition him into the nickel position next year.
4th Round, 99th Pick: WR- Mardy Gilyard Cincinnati
2010 Stats: 11 Games, 2 Starts, 6 Receptions, 63 Yards,
Analysis: Gilyard was supposed to go well before the 4th round, but fell into the Rams lap. That said, he really didn't have a productive season on offense, catching only 6 passes. Now, he did play in only 11 games and didn't really get into the receiver rotation. He can be a big play threat for Sam Bradford and the Rams, but has limitations in terms of consistency.
Once Bradford is able to open up the offense, which will come with more experience, expect Gilyard to play a larger role on the outside.
4th Round, 100th Pick: DE- Everson Griffen USC
2010 Stats: 11 Games, 0 Starts, 11 Tackles, 0 Sacks
Analysis: Griffen's fall from grace during the 2010 draft pretty much seemed well warranted as he was a non-factor during his rookie season; compiling only 11 tackles and really never putting any pressure on the QB.
I am really not expecting much from him this season or in the future; I think that he will be a roster filler at the best.
4th Round, 101st Pick: WR- Mike Williams Syracuse
2010 Stats: 16 Games, 16 Starts, 65 Receptions, 964 Yards, 10 TD
Analysis: Now, this is a steal if I have ever seen one. Williams had serious potential heading into the draft but character issues was his downfall. That said, he turned out to be one of the most productive offensive players to come out in 2010.
I expect him to take on a role as the Buccaneers #1 receiver in 2011 and improve on those crazy rookie numbers. Mike Williams will be an all-pro receiver in the not so distant future.
Best Middle Linebackers from 2010 NFL Draft Class
1. Rolando McClain Oakland Raiders 85 Tackles, 0.5 Sacks, INT
2. Brandon Spikes New England Patriots 61 Tackles, 1 INT, 3 Passes Defended
3. NaVorro Bowman San Francisco 49ers 46 Tackles, 39 Solo
4. Daryl Washington Arizona Cardinals 78 Tackles, 1 Sack, 1 INT
5. Sean Lee Dallas Cowboys 32 Tackles, 1 Foced Fumble, 2 INT
Synopsis: Yes, I do have Bowman ahead of Washington because of what I saw from the Arizona Cardinals LB wasn't too impressive in 2010. Yes, he filled the stat line up, but that doesn't tell the entire story. Arizona was awful against the run, and he started up the middle in the front seven; not a good sign.
I believe that the 49ers really did a great job in scouting Bowman out of Penn State. We still have to remember that he was making the transition from the outside to the inside. That coupled with the transition from the Big 10 to the NFL leads me to believe that he is ahead of schedule.
What I really like is the fact that Bowman will be having Patrick Willis to learn from over the next couple seasons as he matures. You really cannot ask for a better teach than Willis, who personifies what it means to be an elite LB in the NFL. Not just because he is stout on the field, but because he works his tail off outside of Sunday's. Bowman should soak up every last piece of knowledge that Patrick Willis has to offer.
I am looking for big things from the former Penn State LB in 2011, especially if TKO doesn't return (praying that he does). I really do believe that Bowman will take the next step and become an extremely solid if not top tier LB in the NFL.