When the 49ers selected defensive end, soon to be outside linebacker, Aldon Smith with the seventh overall pick of the 2011 NFL Draft, the primary issue for most people was that the 49ers were reaching with the selection. A lot of people liked Aldon Smith as a player but were critical of the decision to draft him with such a high pick. Why not trade down and pick up some picks if you really want him that badly, some asked.
It turns out, it is entirely possible Aldon Smith was not going to be falling much further. Apparently the Houston Texans may have been interested in Smith at the eleventh spot if the 49ers had not selected him. I say "maybe" instead of "were" because we don't really know for sure how much they were interested given the somewhat limited speculation in that article. Nonetheless, some kind of interest might have forced the 49ers hands if they were remotely aware of this.
For the folks that have been critical of the pick as a reach, does it change your mind that Smith might very well have gone a few picks later? For some I'd imagine they just didn't want Smith at all unless it came courtesy of a trade down. But for some, maybe this changes your stance. Or maybe not. Who really knows at this point.
Every team faces criticisms when they draft a player higher than their fan-based might have had that player rated. I was talking to Ninjames last night and we were joking about the idea of scouts or GMs poking around blogs and mock drafts to see how people are rating players and laugh at how off people might actually be on their rankings. Maybe we're sometimes right on the ball, but I have to think it is easy for positional rankings from "outsiders" are bound to be way off in certain instances.