San Francisco 49ers: The Draft Experts Are Wrong!

Bryan GoldbergSenior Writer IApril 27, 2009

NEW YORK - APRIL 25:  NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell poses with with San Francisco 49ers #10 draft pick Michael Crabtree at Radio City Music Hall for the 2009 NFL Draft on April 25, 2009 in New York City  (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

Based upon the "consensus" view from the so-called draft experts, the San Francisco 49ers continued their losing ways by executing poorly in this year's draft.

USA Today gave them a "D+" while grading guru Pete Prisco doled out a similarly lackluster "C-" for the weekend.

Was I watching the same draft as these guys?

By the time I turned off my television on Saturday evening, my thoughts immediately turned to Coors Light and champagne, and a night of celebratory dancing was fast approaching on my horizon. After all, we 49ers fans have almost forgotten what it means to have a hugely successful afternoon.

Saturday, April 25 was a hugely successful afternoon.

Let me begin my defense of this statement by first offering a word of caution. I think that the "professional" Draft Gurus are usually full of hot air. They focus way too much on their assessment of the late rounds.


Because they like to show off how much they know.

By taking a strong stance on their opinion of the eighth highest-rated wide receiver, and congratulating (or jeering) whichever team selects that player in the fifth round, the "professional" analysts can make themselves feel important and knowledgeable.

And while I'll be the first to agree that late-round miracles like Tom Brady do happen occasionally, the vast majority of top-tier talent comes in the first two rounds.

In fact, five of this season's six top passers were taken in the top 32, and the league's brightest young talent—Jay Cutler, Matt Ryan, and Joe Flacco—were also first rounders.

So, while I'll be the first to agree that the 49ers didn't set themselves apart with Sunday's selections—with the possible exception of Scott McKillop—a real Draft "guru" should be smart enough to say "Who cares?"

The Niners hit the nail on the head in the first two rounds, and I'll gladly base 90 percent of my score on those rounds.

My grade? A+.

As a loyal 49er fan, I was shocked when they took Crabtree at No. 10. It was the first time in several years that I have seen them do the sensible thing when given an obvious decision.

How did this man fall so far? It was almost the thing of dreams. It required a little bit of craziness—courtesy of Al Davis—as well as some convenient differences in strategic needs.

One must be truly thankful that Green Bay had already wrapped their minds around B.J. Raji, as the temptation must have been significant.

His free fall was also a result of group-think. A reasonably minor foot injury? That spooked a few suitors.

Unsubstantiated rumblings about a supposed "attitude problem"? His own coach from Texas Tech vehemently denies such a thing.

The last time the "draft experts" used that logic on a receiver was for Randy Moss, who fell to the late first round as a result of supposed "behavioral problems." Guess how that played out.

The short of it is that nine NFL teams convinced themselves out of taking Crabtree, and now the 49ers have themselves arguably the most talented, and certainly the most explosive, player in the draft.

Oh, and they are going to pay him substantially less than $72 million.

What about the second round?

Like most 49ers fans, my heart was racing in the picks leading up to No. 43, in hopes that Everette Brown would remain available.

He was the best available player, and ostensibly fit our needs at DE. When the decision was made to trade the pick, I was a bit surprised, but this is a situation where I do trust that the organization listened to Singletary, a man who would have had every incentive to make that pick were he confident in the Florida State prospect's talent.

And the trade itself was a steal.

Historically, a second and third rounder usually equates to a first rounder, all else being equal. San Francisco only gave up a second and fourth.

What's more, a pick in 2010 will be far more valuable than a pick in the reasonably weak class of 2009.

The Panthers have to be awfully cocky to assume that they will be playoff-worthy next year. Having seen them play quite a few games last year, I am not nearly as confident as their front office. I expect this to be a top 20 pick next April.

I fully understand that some critics will talk about urgency—and yes, the team needs to fill a lot of holes right now. But the strategic value of having two first rounders in what will be a very deep 2010 draft is simply too powerful to ignore.

I'm even slightly optimistic that one of the picks can be leveraged in acquiring a real QB (possibly a certain under-appreciated youngster from Cleveland).

Any way you look at it, the so-called experts are wrong about the 49ers. They had the best first round bargain of any team, and made a sensible move to gain footing in next year's vastly superior draft.

And that earns them a "D+"

Give me a break.

This was a weekend worth celebrating.


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