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.