49ers Draft Preview: The Sleepers and the Busts

West Coast BiasContributor IApril 24, 2009

ORLANDO, FL - JANUARY 1: Running back Knowshon Moreno #24 of the University of Georgia takes a handoff from quarterback Matthew Stafford #7 against the Michigan State Spartans at the 2009 Capital One Bowl at the Citrus Bowl on January 1, 2009 in Orlando, Florida.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

Don’t you hate it when all the mocks have your favorite team drafting a player you know will be a bust? Does the thought of Mark Sanchez sporting a 49ers jersey make you more nauseous than optimistic? Then this is the 49ers draft preview for you. First the sleepers, then the busts. Enjoy!


The Sleepers

1. Rey Maualuga—ILB

I have to start with Maualuga. It pains me how much the “experts” are underestimating him. I am a Pac-10 follower, and you know how many linebackers I’ve seen as good as him? Not a one. Mock drafters like to point to his stats, but USC’s defense was so good, it really doesn’t show how phenomenal he truly was in college. He’s a game changer, and a guaranteed stud.

Team him up with Willis, line up Haralson and Lawson on the outside with Spikes filling in off the bench, and that is a scary group of linebackers. I’m desperately hoping the 49ers are planning on taking him, but have just kept it quiet. If not, I just pray he doesn’t land with the Patriots.        


2.Knowshon Moreno—RB

side note—I wrote this article before the San Francisco Chronicle released its draft preview, which argued for the 49ers taking Moreno.

This would sure screw up the draft, wouldn’t it? It might seem like a reach based on the other mocks, but I think Moreno is better than he’s getting credit for. I firmly believe in drafting for talent, and I’d much rather have Moreno than the three busts-in-waiting listed below.

People keep talking about the 49ers needing a big back to complement Gore, but I think Gore IS the big back. SF needs a quicker back to change up the pace. I like Moreno’s burst even if he isn’t blazing fast without pads on, and I like that he only played two years in college. Running backs only have a certain number of hits in them, and Moreno should have a lot left for the NFL.

And for all you skeptics out there, just know this—I cannot stand Georgia football. So the fact that I actually like Moreno says all you need to know.


3. Tyson Jackson—DE / BJ Raji—NT

You can’t have too much depth on the D-line. Raji will likely be gone, but if he’s there it’s the dream scenario for the 49ers. If not, I like Jackson as well. He’s the best 3-4 end in the class, and in case you didn’t pay attention the first time, you can never have enough talented D-linemen. 


The Busts

1. Mark Sanchez—QB

Stop it everyone. Just stop it. It’s not going to happen.

Running backs project better with fewer miles on them, but it’s the opposite for quarterbacks. The best indicator of success is the number of starts they’ve had. As arrogant and self-serving as Pete Carroll is, he had a good point: Sanchez is not ready.

The 49ers are better off going with what they have, and not investing a ton of money on a longshot QB again. I was much more impressed with Leinart in college, and look at how he turned out.

Need another reason not to take him? How about the fact that Singletary is going to pass the ball about 10 times a game? No one talks about that, but it makes zero sense to invest money in a quarterback who won’t be utilized, no matter how good he is. That’s why drafting another running back is even more important.                    


2. Aaron Maybin—OLB

The argument here is simple: the Big Ten does not produce defensive players.

I was sure AJ Hawk would be a player, and now he is mediocre at best. And that Carpenter guy from OSU? Is he still in the league? And the others? How about Vernon Gholston? Anthony Spencer? Chad Greenway? Tamba Hali?

Donte Whitner is the only decent defensive player from the Big Ten to go in the first round in the last three years, and didn’t he just get arrested? Stay away from Maybin. Best case scenario—he becomes an OK player and then gets a DUI. Stay away.


3. Andre Smith—OT / Michael Oher—OT

Unless one the elite tackles falls, the 49ers are best off staying away from the offensive tackles. Besides, Smith is destined to be with the Bengals. They can’t resist taking a talented player with character issues. I’m sure the moment he got suspended from his bowl game, he shot right up the board in Cincinnati’s draft room. From then on, it just became a love affair.

The Bengals are the NFL’s answer to the Jail Blazers. If they line up Matt Jones and Chris Henry next to Ocho Cinco next year, I won’t even blink. Sign Ricky Williams to play running back and you have the sequel to The Longest Yard.

As for Oher, it’s a reach and I’m not convinced he’s an upgrade over what they already have. Why reach for him when there are plenty of other good players at other positions?

So there you go—three sleepers that nobody has the 49ers taking and three potential busts that many believe have a good chance of landing in the Bay. The 49ers keep talking about how they want to build through the draft, so this year could be critical in determining their future. So enjoy the draft everyone, and remember this: when Michael Oher is doing his best Kwame Harris impression, you heard it here first.