Day One: Division Rivals

The business of football is all about keeping up with the Joneses. How did Mr. Jones of St. Louis, Mr. Jones of Seattle, and Mr. Jones of San Francisco do yesterday? Find out here.

San Francisco:

The rich (Patriots) got richer and the 49ers got two first round picks.  They drafted Patrick Willis, who is basically a higher-rated version of Buster Davis.  Willis was #1 in the middle linebacker ratings, Davis was #2.  Willis is four inches taller (6'1" vs. 5'9"), three pounds heavier, and three-tenths of a second faster (4.41 vs. 4.69) than Davis.  While that looks good on paper, I don't think he's that much better than Davis.  At least, not 58 selections better (11th overall vs. 69th overall).  He's a better fit for the 3-4 than Davis is, which is precisely what Mike Nolan wants.  However, it's my opinion that he will not play up to his press clippings.

What they did by mortgaging their future (1st round pick in 2008) and their present (4th round pick in 2007) was get Central Michigan's Joe Staley, who is a guy that I think will be an excellent pro.  It also appears to spell an end to the Jonas Jennings experiment.  Staley is a huge prospect (6'6", 307) with great feet that can run for a big man (4.81).  He needs to get stronger and get used to playing against a higher level of competition.  Good pick.

Second round pick Jason Hill from Washington State has good size (6', 210) and blazing speed (4.38).  Since the 49ers like to throw the ball down the field, he's a good pick for them.  Can't trash it, can't laud it.

In the third round, they took Florida's Ray McDonald.  McDonald was one of the featured players in an article I wrote entitled Five Guys to Avoid.  'Nuff said.

Grade: C.  They got two starters in the first round, but they also got McDonald.

Seattle:

Without a pick in the first round (once again, New England gets richer) as a result of the Deion Branch trade, Seattle was able to sit and watch the chaos of the first round before finally getting on the clock at 55th overall.  When they submitted their first card of the day, they took Maryland's Josh Wilson.

Wilson is short (5'9"), skinny (188), and fast (at 4.38 in the 40, he might actually play faster than his stop watch time).  He will help immediately in the return game (a la Devin Hester) and in nickel and dime situations, but I can't see him challenging for a starting job right away.  Without ball skills and size, I would say he's pretty much going to be a specialist and I would suspect he'll have difficultly staying healthy.  But, on a team as loaded with talent as the Seahawks, he may just provide enough of an x-factor to get them back to the Super Bowl.

In the third round, they took Cal defensive tackle Brandon Mebane.  He's the type of guy that Seattle likes to have in their ridiculously deep line rotation.  He's got good size (6'1", 309), an excellent first step, and a decent motor.  He has struggled getting off blocks at the point of attack and we had him rated as a 4th round prospect at best, though, so it's difficult to say why Seattle pulled the trigger on him this early.  Given their history, though, they probably know something we don't.

Grade: B.  They did well for themselves without a first round pick on a team that doesn't have a lot of needs.

St. Louis:

At 14th overall, they took Nebraska's Adam Carriker, who I obviously have an intense man-crush on.  Carriker will help them immediately and can play both tackle and end in the 4-3.  Jim Haslett will find multiple uses for him in multiple situations and he will not come off the field on third down.  Excellent pick.

They continued their run of success in the second round with Brian Leonard of Rutgers.  Leonard is a bruising back that is unselfish and will fit perfectly into Scott Linehan's system.  Teaming him up with Steven Jackson is bad news for everyone in the division and everyone in the league.  Both backs are big, explosive, and catch the ball well.  I have a feeling that Linehan is already working on some formations that feature both these guys in the backfield, creating more of a smashmouth version of the Reggie Bush/Deuce McAllister situation in New Orleans.

To close out the first day, they took Tennessee's Jonathan Wade.  Wade is a little guy with exceptional cover skills.  He will help immediately on third down and known passing situations, but will most likely earn a starting role.  The Rams needed a cornerback in this draft and they found a pretty good one in the middle of the third stanza.

Grade: A.  Solid first day from top to bottom.  Drafted quality players at the right time and got talent, versatility, and playmaking ability at positions of need.


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