There are some fans who believe taking Joe Haden in the first round would be their best option.
I on the other hand think that the 49ers would be making a major mistake in drafting Haden in the first round, when essentially the best move for the 49ers since they have two picks in the first round, would be a running back and possibly an offensive linemen, defensive linemen, safety, or a linebacker.
49ers fans understand the struggle in terms of the offensive line and their ability to block a running back because the 49ers need another play-maker besides Frank Gore. Glen Coffee is not going to be a good enough backup, and linebacker Takeo Spikes is getting up their in age and has had injury issues in the past as well.
Most NFL experts have Haden as the number one corner in the draft and I'm scratching my head for the reason why. None of Haden's stats in his three years are eye popping.
In three years Haden had 197 tackles, two forced fumbles, and eight interceptions.
Besides not having eye popping stats, what wide receivers did Haden go up against that would allow him to be considered the number one prospect?
I'm struggling to see any SEC receivers in the last three years that Haden shutdown.
Florida is consistently being questioned for playing inferior schools in their out of conference schedules with teams such as Troy, Western Kentucky, Florida Atlantic, The Citadel, Charleston Southern, etc.
That further complicates things with Haden. In 2009 Haden's best game came against South Carolina with 10 tackles, an interception, and a pass defended. Yet, in the game before that against Vanderbilt, Haden had only one tackle and a pass defended.
In terms of the receivers that you could call talented from the SEC, (Drafted NFL players) Haden would have gone up against Mohamed Massaquoi, Mike Wallace, Kenny McKlinley, Earl Bennett, Keenan Burton, Steve Johnson, Robert Meachem, Sidney Rice, and Courtney Taylor, while playing for Florida.
Meaning in the three years he played at Florida, Haden went up against nine wide receivers.
While practicing for the Gators, Haden went up against Louis Murphy, Percy Harvin, and Andre Caldwell.
I've seen Haden listed at 5'11" and a 193 pounds. That's a decent size for a corner but I wouldn't be too excited about it as a 49er fan. There are other corners in the draft that have more strength than Haden.
Patrick Stoudamire is 5'10" and 205 pounds; Myron Lewis is 6'2" and 205 pounds; Javier Arenas is 5'9" and 200 pounds; Jerome Murphy is 6'0" and 200 pounds; Akawasi Owusu-Ansah is 6'1" and 210 pounds; Chris Cook is 6'2" and 215 pounds.
Most of the players I have listed were among the top rated corners in the NFL draft projected anywhere from the second round to the fifth round.
Again the NFL draft this year is deep in corners, taking one in the first round in my opinion, is not the best option for the 49ers.
If the 49ers were too take a corner-back in the draft they should take Syd'Quan Thompson from the University of California. In four years he had 250 tackles, a forced fumble, and seven interceptions.
Thompson was among the best corners in the Pac-10 from his sophomore season and he also has the ability to return punts as well.
Besides making his marks returning punts, Thompson is also an excellent tackler consistently making tackles in the backfield.
Thompson's hurt draft stock and why he has fallen to a projection of the fourth or fifth round is due to him battling injuries torward the end of his senior season. He only recorded one interception and Pac-10 teams refused to throw in his direction because of his ability to make plays on the ball.
The knock on Thompson is his height, he's 5'9" but he also weighs 191 pounds. So, even though he may not be as tall as Haden, he is built and would be physical with wide receivers.
Besides being able to match up physically, Thompson faced off against more players that were drafted into the NFL, than Haden did.
If you look at just the past three years like I did with Haden you will see that Thompson went up against Patrick Turner, Mike Thomas, Brandon Gibson, Sammie Stroughter, Matt Slater, Dwayne Jarrett, Steve Smith, Jordan Kent, Jason Hill, Michael Bumpus, and Syndric Steptoe. You would find that each player went up against nine players that were drafted to the NFL.
Since Thompson played all four years at California, he had one more year of going up against players with NFL talent including, Reggie Bush, Derek Hagan, Demetrius Williams, and Mike Haas.
In terms of totals, Thompson went up against 15 wide receivers that were drafted to Haden's nine.
In practice, Thompson went up against Lavelle Hawkins and Desean Jackson. So, Haden had the advantage of going against three players that were drafted, compared to the two that Thompson faced in practice.
Yet, I would also have to say, based on past performance of corner-backs being drafted out of each school, the edge would go to Thompson.
In the past decade only three corner-backs from Florida have made the NFL and only Lito Sheppard has made a name for himself. Even though Reggie Nelson maybe on a the verge with Jacksonville.
California on the other hand has Nnamdi Asomugha, Dante Hughes, and Deltha O'Neal.
O'Neal has had a solid NFL career and made a name for himself and Asomugha is considered the best corner in the NFL by some experts.
Hughes on the other hand has not done anything yet heading into the fourth season of his career.
With that being said, I'd rather see the 49ers draft Thompson than Haden, one because of the competition he faced in his four years at California, size wise.
Even though Thompson is the shorter of the two, but he is stronger and more physical. He is the better tackler, and he gives the 49ers more versatility than just being a corner because of his ability to return punts.
Right now the 49ers have on the roster six corner-backs and four safeties.
They have Tarell Brown who is coming into his fourth season; Shawntae Spencer who was finally healthy last year and will be one of the starting corners for the 49ers; Nate Clements as the other starter; Walt Harris will be certainly be gone based on his injuries and his age; the 49ers already have signed Karl Paymah to a one year contract, and there's Keith Smith will be around probably for special teams.
At this point in time it looks like the 49ers are set with the number of corner-backs the team has and again with the depth of the draft class in terms of corner-backs it really doesn't make any sense for the 49ers to draft Haden when they have needs elsewhere that can be made too improve the team.