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Setting Expectations for Each Member of San Francisco 49ers' 2013 Draft Class

Joseph AkeleyAnalyst IMay 2, 2013

Setting Expectations for Each Member of San Francisco 49ers' 2013 Draft Class

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    Most experts believe the San Francisco 49ers put together a respectable 2013 NFL draft class.

    And I'm right there with them.

    The Niners filled needs and found value with several of their picks. 

    Considering these players have never even had an NFL practice, there's a great amount of uncertainty about how they'll perform. 

    However, with the help of YouTube videos and college stats, I made my best guesses on how good they'll be in the NFL.

Eric Reid, 1st Round, 18th Overall

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    After drafting LSU safety Eric Reid, Jim Harbaugh told Bay Area Sports Guy that Reid was the 49ers' "top-rated safety."

    He also told Comcast SportsNet Bay Area's Mindi Bach that Reid could be a starter right away.

    Although Harbaugh likes to play games with the media, it's hard not believe that both of these statements are true.

    Reid reminds me of Dashon Goldson. He's a punishing hitter who can create turnovers. He also doesn't have the elite ball-hawking skills of the best free safeties in the NFL.

    At worst, Reid could turn into Taylor Mays (49ers second-round pick in 2010). I know, I know, that's a brutal insult in San Francisco, but the similarities are everywhere.

    Both led top-rated defenses two years before they declared for the draft; both then were perceived to play worse in the year before they entered the draft. Both were criticized for over-agressiveness, which led to some missed tackles. Both have jaw-dropping measurables, but neither had jaw-dropping college stats. 

    I believe Reid will be a better pro than Mays, however. He's entering a much better situation—the 49ers have better players and coaches—and he's already shown he can play his best on the biggest of stages

    Reid should be a starting safety on the Niners for the next decade or so, but his rookie year will go a long way in showing us whether he'll be the strong or free safety of the future. 

    He's not as fluid as, say, Ed Reed, and that could push him into the strong safety spot down the road. Expect Reid to be a turnover-creating machine, similar to Roy Williams in his prime.

    Career outlook: Multiple Pro Bowl selections

Tank Carradine, 2nd Round, 40th Overall

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    Tank Carradine suffered a torn ACL in November of his senior season at Florida State. Had he not, I believe he would've been a top-10 pick. 

    Carradine mostly played 4-3 defensive end for the Seminoles, but he has the strength and motor to play 3-4 defensive end for the Niners. 

    At worst, expect Carradine to be a situational pass-rusher in his rookie season. He can sub in for Ray McDonald or Ahmad Brooks and rush the passer from the tackle or end position in the 4-2-5 nickel defense. 

    At best, Carradine will quickly learn the 3-4 defensive end position and form a rotation with McDonald and Justin Smith. Much of this will depend on whether he's healthy enough to take part in training camp. 

    In the long run, expect defensive line coach Jim Tomsula to mold Carradine into a dominant defensive end with a similar skill set to Justin Smith.

    Career outlook: All-Pro

Vance McDonald, 2nd Round, 55th Overall

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    Replacing Delanie Walker will be no easy task, but Vance McDonald has the versatility to do just that. 

    The Rice tight end is already an exceptional blocker. He'll never be the threat in the passing game that Vernon Davis is, but he can beat you with his speed and physicality when left in single coverage.

    He'll be very valuable to Jim Harbaugh's big formations. Expect him to be a solid contributor from the get-go in San Francisco.

    Career outlook: Quality No. 2 tight end

Corey Lemonier, 3rd Round, 88th Overall

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    At 6'3" and 255 pounds, it's clear that Corey Lemonier needs to put on some bulk to be a three-down outside linebacker in the NFL. 

    But if you look at him and think of Aldon Smith, you're not alone.

    To be clear, Smith was far more productive in college, and although they both have long arms, Smith's are about an inch longer. Still, with a year of conditioning and coaching under his belt, Lemonier could be a sack artist in the pros.

    He'll be in a great situation as a rookie. As long as Smith and Ahmad Brooks stay healthy, he won't see the field at all on first and second downs. It's possible he could work his way into the lineup as a situational pass-rusher. 

    Down the road, expect Lemonier to be an above-average pass-rusher but not a Smith-like quarterback masher.

    Career outlook: One Pro Bowl selection

Quinton Patton, 4th Round, 128th Overall

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    Quinton Patton should fit in perfectly in San Francisco. 

    The Niners want receivers who can block effectively, and the former Louisiana Tech star loves to throw his body around. 

    With Michael Crabtree, Anquan Boldin and Mario Manningham all under contract for this season, don't expect Patton to be on the field all that often in his rookie season.

    However, all three could be gone next year. That means he could be the No. 1 receiver by 2014. 

    How he and A.J. Jenkins play this year could have a big impact on the future Crabtree negotiations.

    I expect Crabtree will eventually re-sign with the Niners. Patton may not put up big-time stats, but he should be a valuable No. 2 or No. 3 receiver for the duration of his career. 

    Career outlook: No. 2 receiver 

Marcus Lattimore, 4th Round, 131st Overall

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    Will Marcus Lattimore be the next Frank Gore?

    Not only is the former South Carolina running back similar in stature and talent to Gore, but he also finished his college career with a brutal knee injury.

    Gore was healthy enough to pick up 608 rushing yards in his rookie season, but he exploded for 1,695 yards in his second year. 

    The 49ers are hoping Lattimore will see a similar trend. 

    It would be a bit reckless to expect Lattimore to have a monster rookie season. He tore his ACL, MCL and PCL in October, after all. 

    But by the beginning of the 2014 season, Lattimore could be back to full strength. As long as he stays healthy, he could be one of the most productive running backs in the NFL for a long time. 

    Career outlook: One Pro Bowl selection 

Quinton Dial, 5th Round, 157th Overall

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    Quinton Dial has the versatility to play nose tackle and defensive end in San Francisco's 3-4 defense, which should help him snag a roster spot as a rookie. 

    Dial probably won't ever be used in San Francisco's pass-rushing schemes. He only had 2.5 sacks in two years at Alabama.

    His specialty is stopping the run, and if he has a great training camp, he could immediately get into the rotation with Ian Williams and Glenn Dorsey.

    In time, he could be the starting nose tackle, but at the least he projects to be a serviceable depth player.

    Career outlook: Rotation player 

Nick Moody, 6th Round, 180th Overall

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    Nick Moody may never play a single defensive snap for the 49ers in his rookie season. That's because All-Pro linebackers Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman hardly ever take a rest. 

    That being said, Moody has a good shot to make the team because he's a good open-field tackler, and that's the most important skill when playing on coverage teams. 

    Moody will have the opportunity to learn from the best linebacking corps in the league, but he likely won't ever make a big impact in the NFL.

    Career outlook: Rotation player

B.J. Daniels, 7th Round, 237th Overall

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    Can Jim Harbaugh turn another dual-threat quarterback into a superstar?

    Well, B.J. Daniels hopes so, but it's more likely that he'll be a practice-squad player this year. 

    He simply doesn't have the skill set to outplay Scott Tolzien and Colt McCoy and move into the backup quarterback spot.

    Daniels is such a good athlete that he could make an impact on special teams, but the Niners have several other players under contract that have more special teams experience. 

    In the long run, Harbaugh might mold Daniels into a serviceable quarterback. I'll believe it when I see it. 

    Career outlook: Practice-squad player

Carter Bykowski, 7th Round, 246th Pick

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    The 49ers don't have much depth at the tackle position, which means Carter Bykowski has a good shot at making the team. 

    The Iowa State tackle will have the opportunity to learn from two of the best in the business, Anthony Davis and Joe Staley. 

    I predict he'll make the team, but he won't see much action in his 49ers career.

    Career outlook: Rotation player

Marcus Cooper, 7th Round, 252nd Overall

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    It's pretty telling that the 49ers didn't address the cornerback position until their last pick of the draft.

    With six other cornerbacks vying to make the team, Marcus Cooper will likely be relegated to the practice squad or cut.

    His best chance is to make a big difference on special teams. 

    He may make an impact in the NFL, but I bet it won't be for the 49ers.

    Career outlook: Practice-squad player

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