The Draft Drain

One of the major reasons the 49ers are picking first in the NFL draft on Saturday is because of how they've fared on draft weekend the past three years. That's how once-proud franchises drop to the bottom of the league – they fail in the draft over the course of time. An <i>SFI</i> analysis of San Francisco's past three drafts shows that seven of 27 players from those college lotteries no longer are with the team, and only a handful of others are even close to making it so far in the NFL.

THEY'RE MAKING IT

Eric Heitmann, 2002 seventh round: Has been a competent starter since his rookie season who took virtually every snap at left guard last season. Already has been penciled in as the starting right guard in 2005.

Brandon Lloyd, 2003 fourth round: Some might complain that Lloyd should be making more of an impact and will never be anything more than a complementary receiver. That might be true, but Lloyd proved he can play in the NFL last year when he averaged 13.1 yards on 43 receptions and led the team with six touchdown catches as part of a passing offense that struggled mightily.

Arnaz Battle, 2003 sixth round: Considering where he was selected, Battle could be San Francisco's best value pick of the past three years. He became a star on special teams last year – being named a Pro Bowl alternate as a kick returner – and also averaged 17.9 yards on eight receptions.

Kyle Kosier, 2002 seventh round: Kosier, the recipient of the 2004 Bobb McKittrick Award as the 49ers' best lineman, earned himself a $980,000 payday in 2005 – but he'll be getting it from the Detroit Lions after the Niners declined to match an offer sheet to retain his services.

STARTERS WITH POTENTIAL

Mike Rumph, 2002 first round: Rumph would be in the "making it" category if he could have continued his 2003 progress into 2004. But he missed virtually the entire season last year with injuries and still must prove he can stay healthy and contribute regularly.

Justin Smiley, 2004 second round: It was baptism by fire for Smiley last year in nine starts at right guard, but he should be better this year because of that experience and more comfortable now at left guard.

Andy Lee, 2004 sixth round: Stabilized the team's punting game last year with a promising rookie season. All he needs to do now is continue his progress.

Anthony Adams, 2003 second round: Has had his moments at defensive tackle. Team hopes he can be even better at noseguard despite being limited by size.

HATS OFF TO THE ROOKIE

Shawntae Spencer, 2004 second round: Spencer came in last season as a raw talent who was expected to spend his rookie year developing at cornerback behind starters Rumph and Ahmed Plummer. Instead, he started 12 games in their places and held up reasonably well, establishing himself as the team's best healthy cornerback. He needs to continue his development at the position in 2005.

MUST PRODUCE IN 2005

Kwame Harris, 2003 first round: Struggled at left tackle the past two seasons, but has not been a total bust. Now he must prove himself after being moved to his natural position on the right side.

Saleem Rasheed, 2002 third round: Hasn't done much in three seasons, but could get his opportunity this year in the team's move to a 3-4 defensive scheme.

UNDER THE MICROSCOPE

Rashaun Woods, 2004 first round: Will get an opportunity to show what he can do in 2005 after he was used poorly during seven-catch rookie season.

Isaac Sopoaga, 2004 fourth round: Missed entire rookie season with a back injury. Team expects him to step up now at noseguard.

Derrick Hamilton, 2004 third round: Barely stepped on the field last year, but will get his opportunity to sink or swim this year.

ON THE BORDERLINE

Andrew Williams, 2003 third round: Has contributed virtually nothing in first two NFL seasons. That will have to change this year.

Ken Dorsey, 2003 seventh round: His time behind center last year suggests he might not have the physical skills to make it as a NFL quarterback.

TIME TO TAKE THE NEXT STEP

Aaron Walker, 2003 fifth round: Has been an adequate backup tight end for two seasons; now the team would like to see a little bit more.

Richard Seigler, 2004 fourth round: Contributed virtually nothing to deep linebacker unit as a rookie, but it's too early to write him off.

Keith Lewis, 2004 sixth round: Made some big plays on special teams as a rookie, but still must develop coverage skills to help in secondary.

Cody Pickett, 2004 seventh round: Has some talent, but must show it immediately as team is headed for a quarterback overhaul in 2005.

DOOMED BY INJURIES

Kevin Curtis, 2002 fourth round: He'd probably be a starting safety for the Niners today if knee injuries hadn't ended his career.

THE BUSTS

Jeff Chandler, 2004 fourth round: Is still hanging on with the Washington Redskins, but was a huge disappointment when given several opportunities to take over as a kicker upon whom the 49ers could rely.

Brandon Doman, 2002 fifth round: Couldn't beat out seventh-rounders Ken Dorsey and Cody Pickett in successive years and never took a snap in three seasons with team.

Mark Anelli, 2002 sixth round: Stuck around at bottom of roster for a while but never contributed anything to team:

Josh Shaw, 2002 fifth round: Probably had more chances to make an impression on team than any other rookie during this span, but never succeeded in doing so.

Christian Ferrara, 2004 seventh round: Couldn't even make it out of training camp for a team that was desperate for even marginal backup help along the defensive line.

Teddy Gaines, 2002 seventh round: Throwaway pick had no NFL skills and was team's worst selection over the past three years.


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