Jimmie Ward: A
We've been complaining for years about needing a ballhawk in the secondary to put our defense over the top. We finally got one, and he has a clear role to step into before taking over for Bethea in a couple years. ER Ward, don't even need a nickname for our future safeties. Only reason I don't give this pick an A+ is because he won't be a full time player right away.
Carlos Hyde: A-
Emotionally I hated this pick because I'm a huge fan of Gore and Lattimore. I'm sure Baalke is too, but with Gore's age and Lattimore's uncertain health, there's no question this was the right pick to ensure that our offense retains its power first mentality for years to come. Knocking this grade down a few notches because for a 2nd round pick, you'd like to have a guy step into a larger role right away. That being said, even if he only handles 5 carries per game as a rookie, those carries are likely to occur in crucial high leverage short yardage situations.
Marcus Martin: A+++++++++++
In my opinion the most crucial pick of the draft because if he beats out Kilgore, he will step into 1000+ starter snaps right away, meaning he could end up having the biggest impact right away in this rookie class, not to mention his potential going forward since he is only 20 yrs old!! Goodwin was a solid center but more of a technician than a road grader. Since Roman's go-to short yardage play is cramming every single lineman we have into a 10 yard box and then trying to ram Gore up the middle, having Martin lead the way is a godsend. I'm not gonna lie, I think we are screwed if he can't beat out Kilgore...do you really think we can run on Seattle at their place with Kilgore manning the middle?
Chris Borland aka T-Rex: A-
Totally overlooked pick. As we found out last year, every single regular season game is crucial in the battle for home field and we can't afford to drop any games by having a converted safety playing ILB (Wilhoite) while Bo is hurt. We don't even know if Bo will be back this year. Borland won't compete for DPOY, but we shouldn't miss a beat with him stepping in alongside Willis. Make no mistake, he will start over Wilhoite...it won't even be a competition, you can't teach the instincts this guy has. Can't give him a higher grade though because he may not have anything more than a ST role once Bo is back full time.
Brandon Thomas: A+
Iupati's successor. Sorry Mike, you are my favorite lineman but you never developed into more than just a road grader. Thomas has the potential to be that and even more.
Bruce Ellington: A+
The battle is on between him and Patton to step up as our long term 3rd WR and possible starter. With such a deep WR draft, Baalke played it perfectly to land him at 106.
Stevie Johnson: A+++++
If I understand correctly, we essentially got him for a 7th rounder. His cap numbers are very reasonable going forward. I don't see us keeping Crab with what he's going to cost, especially since Stevie probably matches up better against Seattle with his ability to get separation.
As for the rest:
Bit of a shotgun approach here and trusting in our coaching staff to develop these guys. No complaints about the strategy here late in the draft. Would not surprise me if one of these guys turns into a regular a few years down the line.
His postdraft interview hints at a lot of his problems (referring to himself as a first-round talent pretty much tells you that he still doesn't get it) but in such a weak OLB draft, might as well take the risk later rather than earlier. Wouldn't be surprised if the UDFA Breslin makes it over him, not that I know anything about him but at least he seems to have his head on straight.
I don't see how this guy has any future in the league. He's old and injury prone. Unless Tomsula personally requested this pick, it was wasted, even for a 7th rounder lol.
We saw what happened after Bruce Miller got hurt last year. It was a travesty watching Boobie try to play FB, should've just had Tukuafu in there to mash people. Given his versatility, maybe he pushes our 3rd TE off the roster. The team will probably take it slow with his recovery, but I think he's real threat to make the roster and get some snaps as a rookie if he is healthy.
Two major issues keeping this from a perfect grade:
1. Cully is still penciled in as a starter. Coming off the ACL, can't stay out of the news and not sure if anyone remembers since it was so long ago. but last time he was on the field he was getting toasted repeatedly in the SB.
2. Who the is our punt returner, and don't tell me LMJ. This franchise just DGAF about punt return position. Meanwhile it seems like in half of our excruciating postseason losses, the other team got a huge punt return against us, including last yr.
Otherwise by my count, we got two guys who can be full-time starters as rookies (Martin, Borland), two more guys who will play over half the snaps (Ward, Stevie), and two others who could have regular roles (Hyde short yardage and apparently Ellington is a candidate for punt returns despite only having 3 for 16 yds in his college career).
Long term, Ward, Martin, Stevie, Hyde, and Thomas, could all be full-time starters. Millard and Ellington could be regular rotational players, and there's a good chance one of the late DB picks will emerge as a regular too. This draft could easily wipe away the 2012 disaster and keep us as contenders for the foreseeable future even after the old guard is gone. Now let's just hope that these guys make enough of an immediate impact to send out Gore and Cowboy with a ring.