49ers' 2002 draft makes the grade

"B" stands for better, so that's the early grade we're giving the 49ers for their 10 selections in the 2002 NFL Draft, because they're a better team now than they were Saturday morning before the draft began.

 Here's a rundown on each of the team's picks, going from top to bottom round by round:

 First round: Miami cornerback Mike Rumph may not have been the best player still available on the board when San Francisco selected at No. 27, but he certainly was the best player for the 49ers with their top pick. The Niners might have taken Florida cornerback Lito Sheppard if he hadn't been picked one spot ahead of them at No. 26 by the Philadelphia Eagles. But the Niners were giddy to get Rumph, a big, physical, and long-limbed cornerback who will allow them to do different things in coverage than Sheppard. Bottom line: Solid first pick fills a vital need.

 Third round: Alabama linebacker Saleem Rasheed was a great value pick at No. 69 as the Niners got him (and the No. 102 pick in the fourth round) by trading down eight spots from the No. 61 spot in the second round. Rasheed could push for playing time in base defense as soon as this season and should be a top special teams performer. Bottom line: Rasheed might have been Niners' best pick of draft.

 Fourth round: Picking a kicker in the fourth round, as the Niners did with Florida's Jeff Chandler with the No. 102 selection, is always a risky proposition. Chandler was the best kicker in the draft, however, and the Niners didn't want to take the chance he wouldn't be around when they picked next at No. 127. It will be Chandler's job to lose in training camp, where he needs to show from the start that he's worthy of a high fourth-round pick. Texas Tech safety Kevin Curtis was a good pick at No. 127 and he will add to the depth and toughness at the position. Bottom line: Success of draft could hinge on Chandler's development and performance.

 Fifth round: The Niners went for broke in Round 5 with two interesting picks that could provide big payoffs. BYU quarterback Brandon Doman (No. 163) is an athletic player who could have the tools to excel in the Niners' system, and he'll add a new dimension in the competition behind starter Jeff Garcia. Michigan State defensive tackle Josh Shaw is coming off major knee surgery, and that always makes a player a question mark coming out of the college ranks. He would have been drafted much higher had he not been injured, and could be a real steal with the No. 172 selection. Bottom line: Niners might have struck gold with two key players for future here.

 Sixth round: Wisconsin tight end Mark Anelli (No. 201) brings a big body (265 pounds) who can block, and he also possesses some receiving skills that weren't fully utilized much in college. He'll have a legitimate shot to make the roster as the No. 3 tight end. Bottom line: Niners should have been thinking offensive lineman or wide receiver here, but they felt Anelli was best player available.

 Seventh round: Stanford guard Eric Heitmann tumbled to the seventh round (No. 239) because of a back problem that the Niners say is now OK. He was projected as high as the third round and should have a legitimate chance to make the team. Arizona State tackle Kyle Kosier (No. 248) is a project who has room to grow, while Tennessee cornerback Teddy Gaines (No. 256) appears to be a throwaway pick who did not have a particularly good senior season. Bottom line: Heitmann has the only legitimate chance to contribute this year, with Kosier a practice squad candidate.

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