Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
Every team's draft class has one pick that screams value. And for the 49ers' 2010 draft class, there was no better pick than NaVorro Bowman in the third round. In college, Bowman had a hard time finding the field due to injury and the level of competition in front him early on.
But, when he was given an opportunity to shine in 2008, he did. He was named first-team Big Ten as a sophomore and earned two Big Ten defensive player of the week honors as a junior in 2009. During his two years as a starter at Penn State, he amassed 199 tackles, 33.5 tackles for loss and seven quarterback sacks.
After strong back-to-back seasons, Bowman decided to enter the draft.
As a rookie in 2010, he appeared in all 16 games and made one start for inside linebacker Patrick Willis. One start was all he needed to show his value—the following season Takeo Spikes was allowed to walk in free agency, and his starting inside linebacker spot was handed to Bowman.
Since taking over for Spikes, No. 53 has transformed into the league's best inside linebacker. In both 2011 and 2012, he was a first-team All-Pro selection and in 2012 was named to his first Pro Bowl.
Just a few months back, Bowman was rewarded for his high level of play. He signed a five-year extension that runs through the 2018 season. He will earn $45.25 million with $25.5 million guaranteed over the life of the deal.