It takes five years to really judge an NFL Draft. How did the San Francisco 49ers do back in 2011, now that five years have passed?
We always say that it takes about five years to properly judge an NFL Draft.
You see so many immediate-after-the-fact analysis of draft classes, but that’s based on speculation and projection rather than any actual facts of the matter. Not until players have actually been in the league for a few years can you really accurately judge how well the team did.
The grade that the 49ers got for their 2016 draft is meaningless, compared to where the team will be in 2020 or so.
Five years ago, Trent Baalke was working on his first draft as full-time general manager; while he called the shots in the 2010 draft, he was also taking over for Scot McCloughan in mid-stream. At the time, players like Danny Watkins, Jonathan Baldwin and Derek Sherrod were consider first-round values.
Richard Sherman, Andy Dalton and DeMarco Murray weren’t considered worth the risk in the first round. A lot of things can change when people get onto the field and start producing.
Mel Kiper gave the 2011 draft a C+ way back then, before the players ever took the field, but in retrospect, that seems mighty low. While the top two picks the 49ers made in this draft are both at significant crossroads in their careers, it’s a draft class that helped the 49ers made three consecutive NFC Championship Game appearances and come within a yard of winning a Super Bowl.
It’s not as good as the 2010 draft class, which was a full and solid A in retrospect, but it’s far above a C+–only five or six teams can really claim they came out of the draft with more talent than the 49ers did.
Let’s take a walk back down memory lane, see who the 49ers took in that 2011 draft, and re-grade it, with what we know now.
Next: Aldon Smith