NFL Draft Grades 2011: Evaluating Oakland Raiders, San Francisco 49ers Draft Picks

How do the "experts" think the Oakland Raiders and San Francisco 49ers did at the 2011 NFL Draft? Follow the updates in this StoryStream to find out. You can discuss the Raiders and 49ers respective 2011 Draft classes further at Silver and Black Pride and Niners Nation.

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2011 NFL Draft Grades: SBNBA Gives Raiders C Grade Due To Schizophrenic Draft Strategy

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


2011 NFL Draft Grades: SBNBA Gives 49ers B+ Grade For Addressing Needs Early

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+

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