2011 NFL Draft Results: 49ers Select Aldon Smith; Was This a Good Move?

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2011 NFL Draft Results: 49ers Select Aldon Smith; Was This a Good Move?
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
Aldon Smith Closes In On A Quarterback

The NFL draft was working out very nicely for Jim Harbaugh and the San Francisco 49ers.  I believe they were targeting Von Miller or Patrick Peterson, but these two were already selected. 

Nevertheless, with three offensive players selected in the top six, Cam Newton, A.J. Green and Julio Jones, the 49ers could have picked Prince Amukamara, Robert Quinn, Da'Quan Bowers, Nick Fairley or even Blaine Gabbert.

Instead the 49ers made a very curious pick by taking Aldon Smith, a defensive end/outside linebacker, from Missouri.  Smith is 6'4.5" and a relatively light 263 pounds.  Although Smith played mostly along the defensive end spot for the Tigers, he is most likely an outside linebacker for San Francisco.

Smith played only two years for Missouri, and due to injury, only 23 games.  However, in those 23 games he did make his presence known with 17 sacks and 29 tackles behind the line of scrimmage.  Smith has a big upside as he fills out and gains experience.

The 49ers have made an obvious commitment to bolstering the pass rush and that is Smith's strength.  He has good speed and an ability to split defensive linemen to get into the backfield.

Smith has developed a solid array of pass rushing moves in his two years at Missouri.  He plays hard and with a persistent motor, that resembles 49er defensive end Justin Smith.

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
49er GM Trent Baalke Did Not Get Full Value At Number Seven

If Aldon Smith turns out to be an impact player, that's great, but I think this pick was a mistake at number seven.  I am confident that Smith would have been available somewhere between 10-14, so there was no reason the 49ers should not have traded down. 

A trade down to the 10-14 level would have probably enabled the 49ers to land Smith anyway, as well as pick up extra picks in this draft or for 2012.  Although Smith could turn out great, this was still a reach pick at number seven and the 49ers did not maximize their position.

You always talk about value at the level you have picked a player.  This was not a good value at number seven for San Francisco. 

The NFL draft is like a poker game and the 49ers did not maximize the value of their hand.  This shows the inexperience of new GM Trent Baalke, as he could have gotten a lot more and still came away with Smith a few picks lower.  

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