Niners Draft Summary

After a long useless week of inane ESPN analysis, the NFL draft is here. As much as I love the draft, I hate the leadup. Perhaps, the ESPN analysts could produce an informative pre-draft show, but they seem to have about two guys who ever mention anyone’s name outside of the top five draftees. (Ok, they did an alright job eventually, but it wasn’t until Friday and my draft anticipation had peaked around noon on Thursday due to the aforementioned draft teaser stories) And god forbid mentioning the second round and beyond. The one shining point is, of course, Mel Kiper. Unfortunately, whenever he actually makes his way on to the screen, Kiper talks so damn fast that there must be a guy with a stopwatch just off camera. On the other hand, Kiper always seems to talk fast and his sole reason for drawing breath is boiled down to one weekend per year, so the internal pressure was probably pretty high last week. I don’t mean to rail against ESPN too much. FSN would probably have the Best Damn guys host the draft and more than three hours of Rob Dibble and John Salley has been known to cause internal bleeding. I admit that the draft just isn’t an inherently interesting sporting event. Even after the draft, we don’t really know how any of the players will do as pros. This isn’t the NBA; a draft rarely produces immediate positive results. So, draft leadup is just guessing how other people will guess. If I could stop myself from watching or reading anything until the day after the draft, I would, but the siren song of that moment of pure unadulterated hope right after my team makes a pick becomes deafeningly loud with the constant sportscenter teasers of the last week. Sorry, sorry, time to stop ranting.

So, the draft has come and gone and real analysis has now been written. Quite frankly, I’m excited. A new haircut and a personal allegiance to the niners has me feeling pretty good. The niners drafted a good group of players who should be able to make a positive impact on team. Coach Nolan is quickly becoming a fan favorite and if he continues to run the team in the present manner, he should be here for a long time to come, so long as debartolo york doesn’t get impatient or cheap (oh, eddie, i miss you and your creative interpretation of the salary cap. a fun sidenote about the debartolos, debartolo sr. once tried to buy the white sox only to be denied due to fears of a mob connection on the basis that he worked in construction and spoke italian. though he was unable to purchase the white sox, he is probably the only person ever to give more than one child a major sports team as a present. denise debartolo york owned the penguins for ten years. the fact that denise sold off the penguins after ten years and we’re now in year seven of her control/ownership of the niners makes me vaguely nervous.) That said, the niners looked terrible last year, far worse than a 7-9 team should look, and have a lot of holes. I say that out of love. Nolan needs time and the niners need some more reliable players on both sides of the ball. If the niners hit 8-8 next season, I will be happy. This isn’t pessimism. I hope they surprise me. They have a decent chance in the woeful NFC West.

Anyway, back to the draft. The niners came out ahead of most teams and certainly ahead of their conference opponents. Patrick Willis is entirely awesome. Nolan did trade away next year’s first round pick, but we got a good long term offensive lineman in Joe Staley and we didn’t have to overpay. Holes in the offensive line needed to be addressed and we have a player who should work out well in the long term. The niners are ultimately the masters of their own destiny in determining the value of this trade, but it’s hard to imagine losing too many games from the NFC West. The oither big trade of the day came with the Seahawks. Now, Seattle had a terrible draft, no first round pick, a reach on a marginal corner and a possibly good d lineman who they will have to develop. However, Seattle did recently pick up Deion Branch, so it’s hard to say that their offseason is going too badly. The niners tempered this move by acquiring Darrell Jackson for a fourth round pick, which the Seahawks used on a mediocre guard. Kind of odd, even if Jackson was fighting with the Seattle GM. With the Jackson pickup, Bryant Young playing another year and a great draft, the niners are having a good offseason. I really need to fend off the jinx and stop thinking about it too much. Just keep watching that clip of Willis demolishing the LSU back.

The niners took local resident Jason Hill for their third pick. It’s hard not to like a native San Franciscan WR who can run a 4.32 forty. From there, we shored up our defensive scheme with Ray McDonald, a d lineman/outside linebacker, who should fill a role but doesn’t particularly excite me, and Jay Moore, a defensive end with potential. Continuing on with the emphasis on defense, the next three picks were for defensive backups, none particularly exciting but despite last year’s stats, the niners defense shows signs of clicking towards the end of the year and these picks could make a difference. Finally, the niners ended their draft in the sixth round with running back Thomas Clayton, who, at least, Kiper liked.

A few interesting notes… The niners picked mostly from Senior Bowl players. Nolan apparently felt more comfortable with guys who he had a chance to work with directly. While Staley and Willis should possess good maturity and healthy work ethics, some of the later rounders have some character issues and need motivation. Some fans have questioned if Nolan wants to be seen as more of a father figure. This seems a bit unfair; it’s almost impossible not to run into character issues. I shudder to think of a neutral evaluation of my work ethic, after taking four days to write a simple blog post.

All in all, it was a fun couple of days. The draft will ultimately prove less meaningful than the excitement it generates, but it’s the only day when everyone gets to be a winner and go home with a few prizes, unless you’re Cam Cameron.

Thank you to 49ersnews.com for great analysis and coverage. Finally, keeping with my cohort’s rating system, this draft gets 3 1/2 Mike Nolans, which would probably translate to about two Bill Walshs, just to give some perspective.

3.5 Nolans

RIP Kevin Mitchell

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Published in: on May 3, 2007 at 12:29 am  Comments (3)