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In an interesting twist, we now have a site that actually liked both the 49ers and the Raiders 2011 NFL Draft classes. As NFL Draft grades are unveiled, SB Nation has decided the Raiders warranted a B- and the 49ers warranted B. While we might prefer As for the two draft classes, all things considered I’d say those are fairly solid grades. Although, as I look back a second time, nobody in the AFC got a C so I suppose that should say something about the curve in place for that conference.
Oakland Raiders: B-
Despite not having a first-round pick, the Raiders were able to add contributors to their team, including Stefen Wisniewski and Chimdi Chekwa. The team also added the top-level speed it annually covets in cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke and running back Taiwan Jones, who could both turn out to be steals (though DVD was probably over-drafted by a round). Keep an eye on receiver Denarius Moore, as well, as he was creating serious buzz in scouting circles pre-draft.
I find it interesting that people seem to view Chimdi Chekwa as a greater value than Demarcus Van Dyke. It seems like the Raiders really liked Van Dyke’s upside, thus the reason for grabbing him earlier than they might have otherwise needed. All it takes is one other team liking the player, so maybe it is justifiable.
On the other side of the Bay, the 49ers get some love for the potential in their draft, even if it may take a little time to develop:
San Francisco 49ers: B
Aldon Smith managed to fly under the radar a bit pre-draft, but has loads of talent and could be the pass rusher that the 49ers thought they were getting in Manny Lawson. Colin Kaepernick, the team’s second-round pick, is perhaps the most intriguing developmental quarterback in this class, but it’ll be interesting to see how he adapts to West Coast Offense principles. Kendall Hunter was a terrific value pick on day three at running back, and seventh-round pick Bruce Miller has some upside as a rusher, as well.
I would argue Kendall Hunter could be one of their most immediate impact guys. He might not be unseating Frank Gore anytime soon, but he’ll have a good chance to take away from carries from Anthony Dixon.
Rotoworld.com's Greg Rosenthal and Evan Silva recently released their final draft grades for the 2011 NFL draft, giving both the San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Raiders decent marks. Let's take a look at what they had to say.
Silva on the 49ers:
Pros: It's hard not to like Jim Harbaugh's first draft. Contrary to some belief, [Aldon] Smith draws DeMarcus Ware comparisons for explosive disruptiveness and a freakish wingspan. He gives the 49ers a legitimate double-digit sack threat in year one. [Colin] Kaepernick is set up for success under quarterback guru Harbaugh.
Cons: [Chris] Culliver has medical and character flags. [Ronald] Johnson is also brittle. [Curtis] Holcomb was a throwaway pick.
As for Holcomb, how many picks at the very end of the draft really come to fruition in the NFL anyway? Oh yea, Dwight Clark did, going 249th overall in the 1970 NFL draft. But I digress...
I agree that Smith can be a 'freakish' addition to the pass rushing core, and that Kaepernick is the QB of the future. Coach Harbaugh can grow alongside Kaepernick and hopefully will form a great kinship a la Bill Walsh (former Stanford Coach, first year 1979) and Joe Montana (the 82nd overall pick in the 1979 draft). Anyone else seeing history repeating itself?
Greg Rosenthal took care of the Raiders, here's how he broke the Silver & Black down:
Pros: They didn't have their first round pick, although the Richard Seymour has worked out well enough. [Taiwan] Jones saves this somewhat generic draft because he could be a steal and gives an improving Raiders offense another dimension.
Cons: [Stefan] Wisniewski was a safe legacy pick, but lacks the high ceiling of his Pro Bowl uncle. [DeMarcus] Van Dyke was a backup in college, but at least the Raiders are now taking their track guys in the third round instead of earlier.
True, the Raiders didn't do all that bad considering they were without that first round pick , but the fact that Seymour is brought up shows you how blasé Rosenthal must feel about this draft. Wisniewski could definitely be better than people think, but will obviously be compared to his uncle constantly. I think the Raiders did better than a C, but that's may be just me.
Rob Rang of NFLDraftScout.com knows his football. And when he comes up with his final grades for the 2011 NFL Draft, people listen. He recently released them on Yahoosports.com, giving both the San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Raiders marginal marks. Let's break down a bit of what he had to say about each team.
Rang gave the 49ers a C, mainly because he wasn't too fond of Aldon Smith as a first round pick:
I have my reservations about his potential in San Francisco's scheme. At 6-4, 263 pounds, [Aldon] Smith is already bigger than many 3-4 edge rushers and at only 20 years-old, he hasn't stopped growing. He's a bit stiff in the hips and I question how well he'll be able to turn the corner and close on the quarterback.
I thought being bigger was a good thing in the NFL? I haven't scouted Smith like Rang has, so maybe he has a point here. But we'll have to wait and see. As for quarterback Colin Kaepernick and running back Kendall Hunter, he is very fond of both of them, claiming Kaepernick is "a rare combination of size, arm strength and mobility for the position and is intelligent and hard-working."
As for Hunter, he's is Rang's favorite pick the Niners made, but admits he will likely not see much playing time barring injuries to Frank Gore or Anthony Dixon. Maybe he'll earn his way onto the field for some playing time, you never know.
When it came to Al Davis and the Raiders, Rang gave them a C+, claiming they were the "least surprising draft of the year:
Al Davis loves speed and his club drafted precisely that in cornerbacks Demarcus Van Dyke and Chimdi Chekwa,each of whom timed in the 4.3s at the combine. I love [Taiwan] Jones' open-field running ability, but with carries split already between Darren McFadden and Michael Bush, where is Jones going to get his touches?
The Raiders stick to their guns when it comes to the draft, and seemingly roll the dice to see what happens. I think they made some good picks, like Stefen Wisniewski, but I don't think Rang is as fond of him.
this is the NFL, not a college fraternity, and legacies don't necessarily warrant a top 50 selection
Ouch. Important last name or not, I think Wisniewski is top 50 worthy, and the Raiders draft will turn out better than many think. It might take a year or two to develop, but there draft is higher quality that a C+ rating in my opinion.
It has become a bit of an annual tradition for so-called draft pundits to completely bash the Oakland Raiders draft classes. Raiders fans hear the jokes about only picking speed guys and reaching for other talent. However, following the 2011 NFL Draft, ESPN's own draft pundits managed to avoid completely dogging the Raiders draft picks. They did not give them glowing praise, but all things considered it was positive.
I think Mel Kiper has resigned himself to the fact that the Raiders like guys of whom he isn't necessarily fond. He pointed to the Stefen Wisniewski pick as one people could see coming a mile away in part because when the Raiders find a guy they like, it doesn't really matter what other folks think of him. Consider it a sort of back-handed compliment. He was most positive about the offensive line as he views their choices there as a chance to fully implement the kind of offensive line Hue Jackson wants on his team.
You could see the pick of Wisniewski coming if you know Oakland's history. Stefen's uncle, Steve, was a great Raiders offensive lineman for 13 seasons. The pick itself came out as a slight reach on my board, but I know better than to say it was a bad reach, because Oakland consistently pick guys I have rated a little lower, but they often work out. Bottom line: it's not always about value with the Raiders, it's about getting their guy. Van Dyke makes sense as a Round 3 pick -- the Raiders need a corner with the likely departure of Nnamdi Asomugha and Van Dyke is, of course, perhaps the fastest guy in the draft. The Raiders then again went offensive line and cornerback in repeat order. They upgraded their offensive line last year and had great results with Hue Jackson calling the plays, and it appears they wanted to finish the job in 2011. I was a little surprised they didn't address a clear need at outside linebacker a little earlier. They also waited until Round 5 to get a wideout, a spot I thought they might get to earlier. Another pretty good draft for the Raiders, who like their guys but don't worry as much about value.
Todd McShay was most intrigued by their selection of wide receiver Denarius Moore. Given their potential 2010 draft day steal in Jacoby Ford, Moore could be a nice addition to the receiving corp. On the other hand, McShay panned the Raiders for their deal with the Patriots:
Best move: The surprising wideout
Denarius Moore has deceptive speed and is an underrated playmaker. He doesn't have great timed speed, which goes against the Raiders' usual MO, but he is slippery and tracks the vertical pass very well. Moore grew on me and the more tape I watched, the more I liked him.
Most questionable: Getting exploited by the Patriots
The Raiders traded pick No. 219 and a second-round pick in 2012 to the Patriots for picks No. 92 (OT Joe Barksdale) and No. 125 (RB Taiwan Jones). This is typical Raiders, not having a feel for where players are coming off the board and then getting impatient and making bad deals. The Patriots have a habit of exploiting teams like this and there's a reason New England keeps making deals with Oakland. Basically, this became Barksdale for a second-round pick, and that is not appropriate draft behavior.
Mel Kiper and Todd McShay spend much of the year doing battle over the viability of hundreds of potential NFL Draft picks. And of course, this year it capped off with the 2011 NFL Draft and the subsequent grades handed out by the two of them. While Kiper went with a traditional grading format, McShay went with a simple best move, questionable move system.
Kiper gave the 49ers a C+ in his overall assessment, while grading them out at a B level for addressing needs and a C for getting value. In looking through Kiper's analysis, there is a bit of a common thread as he points to various picks as reaches or at least potential reaches. As many others have already stated, Kiper views the top two picks as reaches, which means it could be some time before we truly now how this draft class shakes out for the 49ers:
You'll hear Smith called the first big reach of Round 1, but he wouldn't have lasted long at all past the No. 7 slot where the Niners nabbed him. And beyond the obvious question at quarterback, an outside linebacker who can rush the quarterback was the biggest position of need for this team, and if Smith continues on his developmental path, he could be a star. Jim Harbaugh found a quarterback he can develop with Kaepernick in Round 2, but even with the run on quarterbacks, I saw that as a reach. There's a lot of development needed. San Fran did hit on other top needs at cornerback and wide receiver, and got decent value in Hunter for depth at running back. Kilgore also offers a little more depth at guard. It's all about what happens at quarterback in terms of how we judge the success of the 2011 49ers, but I judge this weekend as a relative success. It's just a small worry when your first two picks both have development requirements.
In Todd McShay's assessment, he thinks the best move they made was actually trading up to get Kaepernick. Kiper liked Kaepernick as well, but felt it was a bit of a reach. It seems like McShay is looking more at the bright side of things in assessing the pick. He did feel they reached though with their selection of CB Chris Culliver in the third round:
Best move: Trading up to get Colin Kaepernick
Alex Smith is expected to be back for another year, but this gives coach Jim Harbaugh a quarterback to develop. Kaepernick needs work and is a long way away, but with the right coaching he could be one of the steals of this draft.
Most questionable move: Reaching at cornerback
The 49ers had a pretty good draft, but there were better options, including Shareece Wright,Curtis Marsh and Johnny Patrick, available at cornerback than Chris Culliver at the No. 80 slot. They addressed the pass rush but could have done a little better here at cornerback. Still, if this is the most questionable move they made, the 49ers had a pretty good draft.
NBC Sports has been rolling out their 2011 NFL Draft grades and it is safe to say they are not big fans of the Oakland Raiders 2011 draft class. The Raiders lacked a first round pick because of the Richard Seymour trade so it makes it a little more difficult to fully assess their draft class. Seymour has been an excellent upgrade for the Raiders defensive line so one wonders how should be factored into their draft grade.
NBC Sports think that the selection of Eastern Washington running back Taiwan Jones saves the class as a dynamic addition to the offense. The Raiders assigned a tender to restricted free agent Michael Bush, but if he were to walk in free agency Jones would likely see a whole lot more playing time. If that’s the case, maybe he really does become a savior for this draft class. Otherwise NBC Sports seems to view this as a fairly generic draft class:
They didn’t have their first-round pick, though the Richard Seymour has worked out well. (We’d argue Seymour has been overpaid, but that’s another matter.) Stefan Wisniewski was a safe legacy pick, but lacks the high ceiling of his Pro Bowl uncle. DeMarcus Van Dyke was a backup in college, but at least the Raiders are now taking their track guys in the third round instead of earlier. Jones saves this somewhat generic draft because he could be a steal and gives an improving Raiders offense another dimension.
In searching around the Internet for 2011 NFL Draft grades, a lot of 49ers grades have been in the C range. The media have liked certain aspects of the 49ers draft but the apparent developmental nature of the draft has left people questioning how to grade it right now.
That is not a problem for NBC Sports. They gave the 49ers a B+ in part because they are big fans of Aldon Smith’s upside. They proclaimed that “Smith draws DeMarcus Ware comparisons for explosive disruptiveness and a freakish wingspan. He gives the 49ers a legitimate double-digit sack threat in year one.”
Additionally they think Kendall Hunter, Colin Jones, Bruce Miller, and Mike Person were all “noticeable value choices.” Of those four, Hunter and Miller would seem to be the two who might receive the most playing time in season one. Hunter will be battling Anthony Dixon for playing time behind Frank Gore, while Miller will be attempting to convert from a defensive lineman to fullback.
The biggest thing to note about the Oakland Raiders draft is the fact that they didn't have a first round pick. As such, folks need to take that into account when making a grade for the team. You can't just look at the names drafted and say, for the lack of star power, that it was a bad haul, you have to grade on something not entirely unlike a curve. For instance, if you eliminate all of the first rounders from the teams that had them, how does the Oakland draft look in comparison? Let's list the picks and then we'll get to the official SB Nation Bay Area grade.
Oakland Raiders 2011 NFL Draft Selections
Round 2: Stefen Wisniewski, C, Penn St. (48th overall)
Round 3: Demarcus Van Dyke, DB, Miami (81st overall)
Round 3: Joseph Barksdale, OL, LSU (92nd overall)
Round 4: Chimdi Chekwa, CB, Ohio St. (113th overall)
Round 4: Taiwan Jones, RB, Eastern Washington (125th overall)
Round 5: Denarius Moore, WR, Tennessee (148th overall)
Round 6: Richard Gordon, TE, Miami (181st overall)
Round 7: David Aubsberry, WR, USC (241st overall)
Well, when you do happen to set out to grade this haul on a curve, it's still a little underwhelming. Wisniewski is a very solid pick who will contribute from day one, likely as the team's starting center in lieu of Samson Satele, who will likely be leaving in free agency. He's got good value and fills a big need, so there's plenty of points there. The biggest problem with the draft is Oakland's propensity to draft guys based on speed and athleticism and not much else. It's not that Demarcus Van Dyke is a bad pick, it's just the fact that he was a backup at Miami and there were still multiple corners on the board who project as better players in the NFL. It makes even less sense when you see that the best corners in the NFL today aren't guys that are burners on the back-end, including Oakland's own Nnamdi Asomugha, who could be departing the team in free agency before the 2011 season.
In fact, Chimdi Chekwa in the fourth round is the perfect example of what the Raiders should be doing with their draft picks. He's a corner with good speed and athleticism who actually makes plays and has a lot of upside, much more than Van Dyke, who was picked almost exclusively for the fact that he ran a 4.28 40-yard dash. Their late round selections don't project to do much, but Richard Gordon out of Miami could use his athleticism to become a reliable target in the NFL, but he wasn't thrown to a lot in college. With Zach Miller potentially leaving for free agency, one would think the team might address the position earlier on.
For positives, Taiwan Jones is a vintage Raider pick, but one that has a ton of upside and has what you'd call "boom" potential. In the fourth round, you're looking at solid value for a guy who brings a different dynamic to any offense with limited bust factor. Joseph Barksdale is also a very strong pick in the third round, and adds to an Oakland offensive line that could take a big hit in free agency. At least they know how to draft those linemen, or at least they appear to. It's a case of "smart pick, not-so-smart pick, smart pick, not-so-smart pick."
Value: D+, Need: B, Overall: C
To immediately answer the question in the title before some folks go overboard: no, the 49ers did not find themselves making "big reaches," in the 2011 NFL Draft. The key word here is "big," because they were certainly not the worst offenders when it came to reaching, but it is definitely worth considering, but should it affect their grade when taking a look at the draft as a whole? Let's list the picks, first, and then we'll get to our official SB Nation Bay Area grade.
San Francisco 49ers 2011 NFL Draft Selections
Round 1: Aldon Smith, OLB, Missouri (7th overall)
Round 2: Colin Kaepernick, QB, Nevada (36th overall)
Round 3: Chris Culliver, CB, South Carolina (80th overall)
Round 4: Kendall Hunter, RB, Oklahoma St. (115th overall)
Round 5: Daniel Kilgore, G/C, Appalachian St. (163rd overall)
Round 6: Ronald Johnson, WR, USC (182nd overall)
Round 6: Colin Jones, DB, TCU (190th overall)
Round 7: Bruce Miller, FB, Central Florida (211th overall)
Round 7: Michael Person, G, Montana St. (239th overall)
Round 7: Curtis Holcomb, DB, Florida A&M (250th overall)
The 49ers addressed a ton of needs in this draft ... in fact, they addressed them almost perfectly in order of what the perception was regarding strength of need. They managed to address four of their top five needs in the first five rounds, and appear to have drafted capable players at all of the positions. Some would consider Aldon Smith a reach at seven in the first round, but it's a moot point because he was likely gone within another five picks, and he fills the team's biggest need.
They then moved up draft Colin Kaepernick, filling another need at the quarterback position (with only David Carr under contract as it stands) and his value was in line with the pick. It was even rumored that other teams were trying to move into the back-end of the first round and top-end of the second to get Kaepernick for themselves (looking at you, Oakland Raiders). Daniel Kilgore in the fifth addresses a need for either a center or a right guard, and he had a third-to-fourth round grade from most scouts pre-draft. Kendall Hunter came in the fourth round after being talked up a lot pre-draft as being a second round talent, but his size concerns caused him to fall. The 49ers didn't think twice about adding him as a potential feature back in the future.
Chris Culliver is the only player who qualifies as a substantial reach, being taken in the third round, but he does fill the team's third biggest need (really the top three are 1a, 1b and 1c) at the cornerback position, and has value as a safety if that doesn't work out, where the 49ers also have a slightly less-pressing need. As it stands the team actually managed to get good value in the middle rounds, while potentially making small reaches early on to address needs, which evens out in our book.
Value: B-, Need: A, Overall: B+
In putting together his NFL Draft grades, Pete Prisco of CBSSports.com has decided to be the first to declare that Blaine Gabbert, Colin Kaepernick, and the 49ers will now be inextricably linked through history. The 49ers already have Alex Smith and Aaron Rodgers linked together, so I guess this is only fitting.
Best pick: I like fourth-round running back Kendall Hunter. He adds speed and quickness.
Questionable move: Passing on Blaine Gabbert and then trading up to get Colin Kaepernick. They will now be linked together in 49ers draft history.
Third-day gem: Tackle Daniel Kilgore, their sixth-round pick, will move to guard and be a quality backup in their rotation.
Analysis: They better hope Aldon Smith turns into DeMarcus Ware and Kaepernick is better than the QBs taken ahead of him. That was risky passing on a quarterback at No. 7.
Prisco described it as risky passing on a quarterback at seven, but that would seem to be based on his assumption that Blaine Gabbert is a solid long-term quarterback option. Maybe he is, maybe he isn’t. NFL draft grades are inherently subjective so I guess they should be taken with a grain of salt.
A lot of folks over at Niners Nation are intrigued by Daniel Kilgore. It seems like he could turn himself into a Tony Wragge type of swing-guard/center. At guard the 49ers are set with Mike Iupati at left guard, but have big questions at right guard with Chilo Rachal and Adam Snyder. Additionally, the center position has a lot of questions because David Baas is an unrestricted free agent and Eric Heitmann has had some injury issues. Kilgore could get some playing time down the road.
Pete Prisco of CBSSports.com put together grades for all 32 NFL teams’ performance in the 2011 NFL Draft, and his grade for the Raiders leaves me scratching my head a little bit. Prisco gave the Raiders a C in spite of apparently liking several of their picks.
Best pick: I love third-round pick Joseph Barksdale. He played left tackle at LSU, but will play the right side or guard for the Raiders.
Questionable move: Taking DeMarcus Van Dyke in the third round is a risk. He has great speed, but he is thin. But then again, Al Davis loves speed.
Third-day gem: Fourth-round corner Chimdi Chekwa is a real steal. He will be a better player than Van Dyke.
Analysis: They traded their first-round pick to get Richard Seymour, so they had to wait until the second round. In typical Davis fashion, they took a lot of speed and tough guys.
I have to think he was grading them down because he didn’t like some of their height, weight, speed guys. Or maybe he just really doesn’t like DeMarcus Van Dyke. I actually think he could be correct in his assessment that fourth round pick Chimdi Chekwa could end up being better than Van Dyke. I was actually talking to a friend of mine Saturday night after the draft and he is a big Raiders fan. He was basically saying the same thing as Prisco about Chekwa.
I am curious to see how many grades will be willing to factor in the fact that Richard Seymour is almost a member of this draft class. He cost the Raiders their first round pick, but given how solid he has been, he’s likely better than whatever they would have received in the first round. He cost them a pretty penny to acquire, but he’s been a beast for them on the defensive line.
Now that the 2011 NFL Draft is in the books, it is time for instant overreaction with grades for each draft class. The general belief is that draft classes are best evaluated at least five years after the Draft. That gives players time to work their way into the starting lineup or work their way off the roster. Part of that five year period comes courtesy of the longer contracts we see for top picks. And part of that is that it just takes some guys a little longer to figure out where they fit on the team.
Over the next few days, sports writers and bloggers across the land will be providing their instant takes on the 2011 NFL Draft. I'd imagine five years from now we'll look back at some of these assessments and laugh our heads off. Accordingly, this stream will be used to compile a rundown of the numerous draft grades we'll see.
Below is a rundown of each teams picks and trades over the course of the three-day NFL Draft. As people grade out drafts some will look at just the picks, while others will factor in the picks and the in-draft trades.
1. Stefen Wisniewski, OL, Penn State
2. Demarcus Van Dyke, DB, Miami, FL
3. Joseph Barksdale, OL, LSU
4. Chimdi Chekwa, DB, Ohio State
5. Taiwan Jones, RB, Eastern Washington
6. Denarius Moore, WR, Tennessee
7. Richard Gordon, TE, Miami, FL
8. David Ausberry, WR, USC
w/New England: Raiders 7th (No. 219), 2012 2nd for Patriots 3rd (No. 92 - Barksdale) and 4th (No. 125 - Jones)
San Francisco 49ers
1. Aldon Smith, OLB, Missouri
2. Colin Kaepernick, QB, Nevada
3. Chris Culliver, CB, South Carolina
4. Kendall Hunter, RB, Oklahoma State
5. Daniel Kilgore, OL, Appalachian State
6. Ronald Johnson, WR, USC
7. Colin Jones, S, TCU
8. Bruce Miller, DL/FB, Central Florida
9. Michael Person, OL, Montana State
10. Curtis Holcomb, CB, Florida A&M
w/Denver: 49ers 2nd (No. 45), 4th (No. 108), 5th (No. 141) for Broncos 2nd (No. 36 - Kaepernick)
w/Jacksonville: 49ers 3rd (No. 76) for Jaguars 3rd (No. 80 - Culliver) and 6th (No. 182 - Johnson)
w/Green Bay: 49ers 6th (No. 174) and 7th (No. 231) for Packers 5th (No. 163 - Kilgore)
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