Saturday, April 24, 2010

San Francisco's 2010 draft class

Okay because way too many folks showed up to my alleged going away event I could not keep a running draft diary, but I do want at least address the Niners' draft.

Going into the draft I saw three big needs: a passrusher, a right tackle, and a cornerback (that's not a reflection of any great faith in Alex Smith, but what I thought of the prospects coming out. Hopefully next year we'll be in a position to get Jake Locker).

In the first round we had two picks. The was buzz they were looking at Jimmy Clausen and when we traded from 13th to 11th I was sure they were trading up to get him. I was very relieved when the named Anthony Davis a tackle from Rutgers (who had been the guy I seen most often in mocks). There was another good tackle out there (Iowa's Bryan Bulaga who went #23 to Green Bay) so they did not need to give the 4th rounder they did to move up to get one, but Singletary supposedly loved him and I can endorse trading up to get the right guy. Plus they got the 4th rounder back next year trading down in the 3rd round. Davis is known as a bit of a slacker, but Iron Mike is probably the guy to fix him (see the other Davis: Vernon). I don't know that I think Singletary creates the most complex schemes, but he is good at getting maximum effort out of guys. Bulaga is supposedly a better runblocker, but only a RT, while Davis has the potential to be a LT down the line - although Joe Staley isn't a problem even if he isn't one of the best LTs in the league.

With our second pick in the first round we took the guy generally seen as he best guard in the draft Mike Iupati from Idaho. He is a massive roadgrader type, who reportedly isn't the smartest guy in world. I was hoping for a passrusher or corner, but this wasn't a terrible pick. To me our defense is better and it makes more sense to improve there because in the modern NFL you can't be great on both sides of the ball.

We went defense in 2nd round with Taylor Mays. I wanted a corner, not a safety, but this is not a terrible pick because he should be an upgrade over Michael Lewis (another Nolan guy waiting to be replaced). But Mays is more an athlete (great speed, strength, size) than a football player, so he will come up to help our run defense more than our pass defense. And I was not impressed with him whining at Pete Carroll.

Somewhere between the 2nd and 3rd round I usually stop knowing the names (which is longer than it used to be before I got to Gainesville and started following college ball some). But in the third round we got someone I recognized. I was watching the Capital One Bowl and there was this linebacker for Penn State who was just kicking LSU's ass. Old school Penn State doesn't have name on their jersey's so I called the Flookstar (who surprisingly was at the game - not a bad girlfriend move there) and asked him who #11 was. Naturally he did not know, but I later found out he was Navorro Bowman and that was the pick. He looked great so I was pleased, even if he apparently isn't as diligent in his conditioning as he should be and has a minor criminal record. I like the pick and bet he replaces Takeo Spikes (it may be a while though, I thought Spikes was already done when we signed him, but he sure shoved that in my face). And he might be able to be part of our passrush by committee even if he isn't a ten sack guy (our committee approach was good for third in sacks lat year, but I don't trust and feel a stud gets more consistent pressure and forces and offense to adjust in a way a committee doesn't).

San Fran then had no picks until the 6th round (5th was give to Miami for 1st round bust WR Ted Ginn - which I liked. I wish it had been a lower pick, and he shouldn't take the field on offense, but he will solve our disaster special teams and turn them into a strength).

Remarkably I knew our first 6th round pick - running back Anthony Dixon from Mississippi State. That's a good pick for value, although we are deep at runningback already and we needed a speedster more than another power back. He might switch to fullback, but I think this may end Michael Robinson's tenure unless they want to keep him just for coverage on special teams.

I should talk about my draft philosophy here. In theory I am a take the best player on your board regardless of position at all times guy because I figure if you have two great players at one spot you can find a way to make it work and cover for the spot of need you didn't draft. In reality in the early rounds when I am thinking I do think about what my teams needs though - you want a balance, don't pass on a stud to reach for a need. In the later rounds (5th round on I would say) you absolutely should just draft best available because you aren't going to get a starter there (and if you are you are a terrible team and should be planning for two years away which means you should still take best available). Dixon was that pick.

For the remaining picks I had no idea who they were or if the 49ers were using a best play or fill a hole philosophy and can really only judge them by position (to see what the front offense is thinking about our team - which is silly if the Colts take a QB in the 6th that is not a reflection on Peyton Manning. I don't know anything about the guys they got besides what the internet told me. We got a blocking TE - which we didn't have (draft one late last year, but he did not make the team), a Ten Ginn clone (speedy WR who can return) which would annoy me if wasn't just a 6th round pick, and I-AA corner who has some speed, but who is projected to be a safety in the NFL.

After the draft we signed some free agents. The biggest name was LeGarrette "The Hitman" Blount. That's now four big backs on the roster. And three character issues added (Dixon has a DUI), you have to be careful not too add too many of those or the brew is ruined. They also signed *another* return man (this one is a CB) from Florida A&M, along with a corner from Western Illinois, and a safety from Wisconsin. It's nice to know they realize the secondary needs an upgrade even most of these guys won't make the roster. The best signing in my eyes is West Virginia QB Jarrett Brown who played in a weird system but to my eyes has the mental and psychical material to be an NFL starter. Now we can cut David Carr.

Overall I would say it wasn't a bad draft if not a spectacular one, the OL gets much stronger and the defense deeper (and got two potential eventual starters). Maybe with better OL play and some more experience Alex Smith will play well enough to win the weak NFC West and next year I won't even want Jake Locker.

Yes I will.


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