A terrific year has wrapped, as the Niners unwrapped their new toys for 2014. Before going through my Niners' review, a few thoughts:
* Although Bortles was my number one QB entering the draft (Garappolo second and Bridgewater third), selecting him at 3 was ridiculous. Two of the greatest deficiencies with the Jags were pass rush and production at WR. How they could pass on Mack and Watkins is stunning.
* Nobody should be celebrating the Browns draft. As stated before the draft, the Browns will figure a way to screw up the draft. A;ready knowing that Gordon was going to be suspended probably for a year, they bypass Watkins by trading him for a future first and selecting Gilbert at 9. They compound the problem by selecting Manziel, a warm weather QB in Cleveland. Memo to Cleveland: Don't overthink the draft. Just select the best player and move on.
Finally, and most controversially, the Rams selection of Michael Sam reeks of a PR stunt. While I salute Sam coming forward, and hope he finds success in life...I cannot believe I am about to say what I am about to say...here was a guy who was drafted because he was gay. Breaking the barrier in any sports league should be legit, and I feel that the NFL knew there would be a significant blowback if he was not selected...hence making some wink-wink deal with a team to make the pick. An orchestrated breaking of the barrier only does damage to the cause in the end. Michael Sam jumped a vertical of 25 inches at the combine. That is the level of am morbidly overweight, out of shape RT. That number would be dead last amongst the QBs at the combine. His shuttle time was dead last amongst DEs, and by a substantial margin. He was second to last in the bench press. Taking the combo stats of speed, strength, explosiveness into account, and the struggle of the Senior Bowl week, he should not have been drafted.
OK, let's get the Niners' grade: A-
A really solid set of picks by the team. Let me break down each one
1- Ward. Was the top guy on my board. Will be a slot CB immediately. Can cover anything. Dominated Senior Bowl week. I am guessing a move to SS in year two or three. Just a great football player. Instant impact. GRADE: A+
2- Carlos Hyde- Was the top guy on my board. Great value pick with a player I felt was top 10-15 overall in the draft. Of course, the position drops the value down a bit, since the league has really become a pass-first league. Sneaky fast, smooth through holes, tough and durable, great hands. Has all the tools to be great in the NFL. Graded him similarly to Lacy. GRADE: A+
3- M. Martin- Three in a row for top guy on my board....that will never happen again in a million years....was Baalke reading off my sheet? Great athlete, smooth and savvy, and has the ability play center or guard. Future starter. Much better than C. Rachal coming out of college. GRADE: A+
4- Borland- Not the top guy on my board, but not far off it. I believe I had him sixth best at this point. Great college player, Aced the Senior Bowl, terrific instincts, tough as nails. T-Rex arms and limited ability to be a terrific three down backer a slight concern. Can step in and compete to replace Bowman from Day One. Here is the downgrade: when Bowman does return, Borland is not going to hit the field on defense...ever. To me, there were other players that can be long-range starters for the team. My pick was Phillip Gaines of Rice, who I believe will be a solid starting CB in the NFL. We need a starting caliber outside the hashes CB for down the road. This was the area we had to make this move. GRADE: B
5-Thomas. Love Thomas, and love the pick. Near the top of my board, I believe third. Legit starting abilities. Here is the next LG if Iupati leaves after this season. Smooth, smart, good athlete, can play four positions across the line, made Clowney look ordinary in one on one matchup. My pick in this spot was Martavis Bryant. GRADE: A+
6- Ellington- Really talented college WR who add special teams skills. Quick rather than fast, smart instinctual player. Had him fifth on my board at the time. A very good value pick in this spot. My pick- NT D. Jones of Penn State. GRADE: A
7- Dontae Johnson- Loved the pick. Johnson was nearly at the top of my board...I believe third at the time. Legit nickel/dime corner with excellent height and length. Good athlete, productive. No issue with the pick. My selection at 129: Aaron Murray. GRADE: A
8- Aaron Lynch- Suddenly the dark clouds appear. Worst pick of the day in value for the team. At 150, still a bunch of guys who are going to help the team. Lynch is a formerly great, self-indulged, spoiled, bad attitude, me-first train wreck of a person. Now onto his good characteristics...haha. If he makes the 53 man roster, it will be one of the greatest shocks. Do we really want to add this kid onto a list of guys with character questions on our team? No confidence in him. My pick at 150- Jackson Jeffcoat...who went undrafted, surprisingly, but will contribute more to the NFL than Lynch. GRADE: F-
9- Reaser- Kind of a head scratcher to me at this point. Thought Acker was the superior of the two. A pretty smooth athlete, but doesn't seem to have the competitive fire I believe a Dsy Three selectee needs. Will be a PUP guy, so a roster stash. Top guy on my board by far was Jordan Tripp, who has no business being selected this late. GRADE: C
10- Acker- A good value pick. Good, not great athlete, but excellent instincts. I thought played well against good competition this year. Down the board quite a bit for me, and after the selection of Reaser, seems a bit redundant. Seems to me the team had both graded the same, and thinks one of the two will make it, but hedging their bets by selecting both. My pick was safety Craig Loston of LSU, who went undrafted, but I feel will make a roster. GRADE: B
11- Ramsey- Guys with experience along the line, but not a full-time starter. Honestly, nothing to be excited about. Not that athletic, not tall, Would be shocked if he made the roster. Much better player, DE DeAndre Coleman still on the board, who was my pick at 243. GRADE: D
12- Trey Millard- Loved the pick. Had him graded as the number one FB in the draft. Has all the tools- speed, strength, toughness, hands. Would have gone substantially earlier without the injury. A lot to like here. No complaint. My pick: OT James Hurst of North Carolina. GRADE: A
In the end, I get the Niners' strategy with an already deep roster...stash these players on the PUP or Injured Reserve for 2014 and let them compete in 2015. Sometimes this strategy works, sometimes not.
Some people may want to add traded picks for players as part of the draft grade (S. Johnson), or future picks gained through trades. I don't evaluate that way, but only on the picks themselves in their respected slot.
Review of my draft:
Overall, stellar work by Baalke and Company. Now, if there is a way to go back to 2011 and pick up that 99 kid from the University of Wisconsin.....
Thanks to all for a great year.
[ Edited by MadDog49er on May 11, 2014 at 9:14 PM ]