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The Cincinnati Bengals are now on the clock. Wait......Wait, WHO'S on the clock? Yes 49ers fans. Welcome to unfamiliar territory, the first pick of the NFL draft. What was once considered the great NFL franchise has now been cast out of NFL Heaven by the football Gods.
But, alas, 49er fans, this doesn't have to be an annual occurrence. We don't have to sit through countless 2-14 seasons. We don't have to pick in the top five each year. We don't have to pick a quarterback.
The top pick in the draft should not just fill a need, he should set the tone for the franchise. He should be a signal to fans that change is in the air and we will not settle for mediocrity. The top pick should be worthy of such an honor, someone who changes how the game is played once he steps onto the field. The top pick should be Antrel Rolle from Miami.
Rolle has the size (6'1), the speed (4.4 in the 40), and the pedigree (University of Miami) that scouts drool over. In a draft that is weak in top end prospects, Rolle is one of the few that could be drafted high in any year. Think Chris McAlister with a touch of Deion on the side. The only negative to Rolle is that he is TOO aggressive at times. As a coach, I want my corner fighting for that ball, that is where the great one's separate from the rest of the pack.
While some may compare him to other big corners who haven't panned out in the NFL, such as Mike Rumph, Rolle has consistently proven he can shut down one side of the field. In his matchup against Pittsburgh's Larry Fitzgerald two years ago, Rolle held the future Cardinal to only two catches and 26yards. Keep in mind many considered Fitzgerald the top player in college football that season. Shutting down Fitzgerald, as well as Torry Holt and Koren Robinson will be a main focus for the 49ers defense in years to come.
Typically, corners are the last ingredient added to a defense for a team trying to contend, as the 49ers proved in 1981. But there are no top defensive linemen worth taking in this draft and our linebackers are already solid. Had we decided to let Peterson walk a strong case could be made for Derrick Johnson from Texas, but we kept Peterson so no sense looking in the past. The only alternative to Rolle I would accept is trading down seven or eight spots to grab Erasmus James from Wisconsin, but with his injury history that is a risk I would not be willing to take.
Now the first question asked is, how are you so stupid for taking Rolle number one overall and not trading down for him if you want him so bad? Because nobody will trade down and why be stuck with a player who won't pan out just because you could possibly get Rolle later.
Now everyone seems to be pining over Aaron Rodgers or Alex Smith, and they had solid seasons. Rodgers could end up being a solid prospect, but he needed one more year at the college level for seasoning and he ended his career terribly. Now the argument can be made that he lost his top three receivers to injury and that affected his effectiveness, however, if you watch clips from the games no receiver could have caught the balls where he was throwing it. Smith is a one year wonder who played in a gimmicky offense that reminds me too much of Spurrier's Fun and Gun from Florida, and if I remember correct not too many of those Gator quarterbacks panned out in the NFL. Danny Wuerfell anyone? Rodgers and Smith would be no better than the fourth or fifth best quarterback any other year, and with the 49ers at an all-time low this is no time to be reaching for players. We need solid players ready to contribute now.
Come on Niners, do the right thing. Start Rolle'n with Nolan.