With the 7th pick in the 2011 NFL Draft the San Francisco 49ers select Aldon Smith DE/OLB Missouri! Wait, what, who, huh? Many “experts” and fans alike tabbed Prince Amukamara, Robert Quinn or even Blaine Gabbert if Patrick Peterson and Von Miller were off the board. Instead the 49ers took Smith a young 20 year old pass rusher from Missouri. Initially Smith’s selection was met with surprise from nearly everyone including many 49er fans who voiced their disapproval of the pick all over the web.
After taking a deeper look at Smith this pick shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. In his short time at Missouri Smith has proven he has natural ability to rush the passer evident in his record 11.5 sacks as a FRESHMAN. Many will point to Smith’s lackluster statistics from his sophomore season ignoring the fact that Smith played with a fractured fibula and still turned in a solid season with 5.5 sacks.
Smith flew up draft boards in recent days because he is seen as one of the cleanest DE/OLB’s with the fewest issues in the draft. In a draft loaded with players at his position that says a lot about Aldon Smith’s ability to step right in and contribute despite his young age. The 49ers also liked Smith’s versatility as he has shown the ability to drop back into coverage and is thought to possess tailor-made qualities for the creative, multi-package 3-4 defense Vic Fangio intends to employ in SF.
The point is draft “experts” are working for news publications and not NFL teams for a reason. The 49ers and probably many other NFL teams had Smith rated as the 2nd best pass rusher in the draft and the best fit for their team. This is only a surprise because we were force fed the opinion that Robert Quinn was superior to Aldon Smith. The reality is that the 49ers picked a guy they have rated high at a position of great need. Isn’t that the point of the draft?