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49ers drafted 3 of ESPN's "Pure Football Players"

ESPN rankings of their best pure football players in the draft. The 49ers were the only team to draft more than 2 of these guys. Rams and Titans were the only other teams to draft more than 1.


http://insider.espn.go.com/nfl/draft2014/story/_/id/10867354/2014-nfl-draft-johnny-manziel-aaron-donald-players-most-pure-football-skill

Offense Johnny Manziel QB, Texas A&M Go ahead and call Manziel merely a football genius for his scrambling and wizardry in extending plays. But he's a great pure player because he balances that with this: He completed an AQ-high 73.5 percent of his passes from inside the pocket last season. Manziel isn't just a freelancer, he's a very good pure football player.

Projection: Early Round 1

Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia A bigger arm would push Murray higher up on draft boards, but if he can add some strength there -- and it happens often -- he can be an NFL starter, because he'll work to get there. He's accurate short and can run an offense but just isn't a great athlete for a player his size, and that matters.

Projection: Rounds 4-5

Carlos Hyde, RB, Ohio State Ten years ago, a runner with his size and level of explosiveness combined with vision, power, hands and even the ability to block wouldn't be around past the midway point of Round 1.

Projection: Round 2

Bishop Sankey, RB, Washington A smart runner, Sankey is patient behind his blocks and runs with vision, balance and underrated pop. He knocked out 26 reps in Indy, ran the 40 in 4.49 and has proved durable with 644 carries and 67 catches in three years.

Projection: Round 2-3

Kevin Norwood, WR, Alabama He was often overlooked at Bama due to the presence of Amari Cooper, but Norwood was very good in his own right, and his football smarts are evident when you see how good he is when a play breaks down. The idea of a player like this in Seattle, with a QB who loves to extend the play, is interesting.

Projection: Round 3-4

Jordan Matthews was highly productive against some very good SEC defenses. Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt A dependable receiver who knows the tricks to creating space and getting open, Matthews was highly productive at Vanderbilt against some very good defenses, and he's an underrated athlete. The guy falls under the "immediate help" label.

Projection: Late Round 1

Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan At 6-foot-8, 310 pounds, and the ability to beat a lot of tight ends in a footrace (he ran 4.87), Lewan could be excused for lacking a killer instinct as a run-blocker. But he has it and plays through the whistle.

Projection: Early in Round 1

Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame Plays hard, can play every position on the line and defies any questions about measurables to play really, really well at left tackle. I'm not convinced he has to move off that spot.

Projection: Middle of Round 1

Gabe Jackson, G, Mississippi State He's started 52 games at the college level, wins in both the pass and run game, can move defenders and wall them off, and simply knows all the nuances of the position.

Projection: Round 2-3

Weston Richburg, C, Colorado State An interior lineman who really knows how to use his foot quickness to gain position and beat defenders to the punch. He can also play guard and gains value with his versatility. Durable too.

Projection: Round 2-3


Defense Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh Excellent quickness, violent hands that make him really hard to keep in front of you as a blocker, and a great nose for the direction of the play. It's why he led the country in TFL last season. Donald would be considered a very good football player and prospect even if he hadn't worked out in Indy, but his athleticism and power just add the cherry on top.

Projection: Early Round 1

Trent Murphy, OLB, Stanford He has 51.5 TFL and 31.5 sacks over the last three seasons, and he does it with an arsenal of moves to get a tackle off balance. He can win inside or outside.

Projection: Round 2-3

Kyle Van Noy, OLB, BYU Great instincts and great pursuit speed make him an exciting player to watch, because if he makes the read, he closes quickly. Very good when the play is running away from him.

Projection: Round 2

Chris Borland, LB, Wisconsin Too short. Short arms. Too slow. It's all there, except so is the production. Borland flies downhill, can flat-out stand up a runner in the hole with his power and leverage, and he can shoot gaps and make tackles for loss. Ready to start.

Projection: Round 1-2


Telvin Smith, LB, Florida State He was Florida State's leading tackler and played linebacker, despite checking in at only 218 pounds. I don't know if Smith can stay on the field at the NFL level, but it's hard to bet against a player his instincts and proven production.

Projection: Round 4-5

Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State Can cover as if he's Velcro on the receiver, with the ability to press and disrupt routes early, then flip and fly with a receiver all over the field. Powerfully built for a corner, he's a willing run defender.

Projection: Middle of Round 1

Jason Verrett, CB, TCU If he was a little bigger, Verrett would get a little more love. A great cover corner with ball skills, Verrett is a smaller guy (5-10, 176) with absolutely no fear and will light up bigger players.

Projection: Late Round 1

Lamarcus Joyner, CB, Florida State Maybe the most versatile defensive back in the draft, he can handle safety or corner. He'll attack plays in the backfield with a great sense of where the ball is headed.

Projection: Round 2

Jimmie Ward, S, Northern Illinois A playmaker. He has great football instincts against the pass and the run. He will shoot downhill and make plays against the run, and reads a QB's eyes well and will jump routes and pick off passes. He's also really good at blocking kicks.

Projection: Round 2

Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville An explosive safety prospect who closes quickly when the play is in front of him. He gets in trouble only when he overpursues. Smart and capable, he'll come in as an immediate starter.

Projection: Round 1


Good stuff! I love these type of players. VERY happy with the 3 we got.

I'll also add Shayne Skov to that list "pure football players". Almost watched every Stanford game the past several years and he always popped off the screen, despite his lack of speed. Top notch instincts and play recognition, this dude flies to the ball and makes things happen.