April 27, 2012; Santa Clara, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh and first round draft pick wide receiver A.J. Jenkins and general manager Trent Baalke pose for a photo at the 49ers headquarters. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-US PRESSWIRE
We've got our own draft grades when it comes to the San Francisco 49ers - and you might be surprised with some of them. The overwhelming majority seems to think it's a 'C' average - but not us. For more on the 49ers, hit up Niners Nation.
Coming into the draft, the Niners didn't have a whole lot of needs. They mostly wanted to increase depth and competition and add some explosiveness on offense, Let's take a look at their overall draft to see how they attempted to accomplish those goals. I will grade each one as I go along and then grade the overall draft at the end.
Round 1: A.J. Jenkins- This was a curious pick at best. Obviously Baalke and Harbaugh have earned the right to pick whomever they want, but there were a number of good receivers available here including Reuben Randle, Alshon Jeffery, and Stephen Hill. Jenkins is a good route runner who has excellent hands, but I just don't think he had optimal value here. Obviously Harbaugh feels he is a better fit for the offensive system than the other guys who were there. Grade: B-
Round 2: LaMichael James- James was another surprise pick, but was good value in the late second round. The Niners have a glut of running backs, but James is a world-class punt returner and is extremely proficient at catching the ball out of the backfield. He is also strong enough to succeed as a goal-line threat, as he did at Oregon. James is faster and more explosive than any back the Niners currently have on the roster and immediately makes a number of them superfluous. Grade: A-
Round 4: Joe Looney- The good news is, the Niners needed a guard and they got one. The bad news is, Looney is not yet a polished run blocker and the Niners run the ball a LOT. Until Looney masters that aspect of his game he will struggle for playing time. However, he does have all the necessary physical tools and may yet blossom into the sort of road-grader guard the Niners favor. Grade: C+
Round 5: Darius Fleming comes from a big=time program, one that routinely plays the highest possible competition every year. If a prospect from Notre Dame is a stud, it is easy to tell because they always play the best teams in the country. If the prospect is raw or simply dreadful, they will be exposed more so than at any other school. Fleming falls under the 'raw' category. This is not really a bad thing, because the Niner linebacking corps is clearly the finest in all the land, and Fleming can be coached up better here than with any other team. He won't be asked to do anything but mature. In a few years he will be battling for playing time. Grade: B
Round 6: Trenton Robinson- He was projected as a third-round pick by some but fell pretty low. He doesn't have ideal size or speed, but he does have good ball skills and snatched 4 interceptions last year for Michigan State. He reminds me of current Raider, Matt Giordano in his style. The Niners got great value here and a potential quality backup safety. Grade: B+
Round 6: Jason Slowey- Slowey is a highly rated small-school center, which is a position at which the Niners are extremely thin. Slowey also has the ability to play either interior guard spot, and can provide quality depth while battling for playing time. Grade: C+
Round 7: Cam Johnson- The seventh round is a good time to take risks on guys with talent and questionable effort, which is exactly how one might describe Cam Johnson. He has ideal height/weight for a DE (6'3" 268) and he has good burst in the pass rush and is good with his hands. If he responds to coaching he could be an excellent addition to the Niner defensive line rotation. If not, well, he's a seventh rounder. Grade: C
Overall, I like the selection of players the Niners took. I don't particularly care for the A.J. Jenkins selection, as there were definitely better options on the board. I love LaMichael James, and I think the rest of the picks are good depth selections who have the talent to blossom. However, just like the Raiders they didn't take a cornerback when one was probably needed. Given that the Rams and Cardinals both upgraded their WR corps significantly, I think the Niners ought to have taken at least one highly rated corner prospect. I don't believe in reactionary drafting, but this was a need that ought to have been addressed in any case. OVERALL GRADE: B-