I read Bleacher Report just about every day. Sometimes I read every article in the newsletter. I read everything they write about the San Francisco 49ers. So I was anxious to hear their assessment of the Niners' just-completed NFL draft. I'll tell you up front, I'm pretty dubious. Trent Baalke, the Niners' GM, has earned a rep as a draft wizard and those who have criticized his past picks have not fared well when the season played out.
But Ted Johnson went through the Niners' eight top picks and rated the first pick an "A" and all the others a "B". Gimme a break. In a couple of cases the only way Johnson could even defend his eval was to fall back on "Trent Baalke knows more than we do."
Yeesh. Maybe Johnson belongs in the front office as a flak for the Niners. He's mastered the art so well.
FWIW, here are my grades of the Niners' picks:
A. J. Jenkins, Illinois, WR. This guy's fast but he's small even by the Niners' diminutive standards at 6-0. I'll agree with Johnson's A here, though. He may have some serious potential even as a rookie.
LaMichael James, Oregon, RB. He's too small (5-8, 194) and clearly not ready for NFL Prime Time. That makes him a B before I throw in the fact that we've got too many freaking running backs already! As a pick, this is a low C this high in the draft.
Joe Looney, Wake Forest, OL. At 6-3 and 315, this guy's a moose and his rep is for having great hands and a mix-it-up attitude. He could get the start or 1st backup at RG. Smallish school but he seems like a decent fit. I'll agree with Johnson and grade this one a B.
Darius Fleming, Notre Dame, OLB?. He has a rep as a decent edge rusher but I can't see him higher than 3 on the depth chart behind Ahmad Brooks and Parys Haralson. Average pick gets a C.
Trenton Robinson, Michigan State, S. Robinson comes in at 5’9” and 193 pounds, which is a lot of weight on a small frame for an NFL safety. My guess: he won't be a regular for at least two years and probably never make a real mark. My grade: D.
Jason Slowey, Western Oregon, OL. At 6-4/315, Slowey has size, speed and strength. He's from a really small school which makes it hard to assess his NFL potential. He's likely to end up as a center for the Niners. I'm picking him to be the draft surprise and giving his pick an A.
Cam Johnson, Virginia, OLB. Could be another surprise smart pick. At 6-2 and 268, he has the size and build to be an immediate contributor at OLB, which was a weak position for the Niners last year if only in its lack of depth. He could also play DE when called on and that's a big plus. I like this guy. Give him an A. (A- but I don't let myself do + and -).
Overall. USA Today ranked the Niners' 2012 draft quality overall at 23rd out of the 32 teams. I think they got it about right.