Niners general manager Trent Baalke entered the NFL as a Jets scout in 1998 and spent his first three seasons under coach Bill Parcells.
Baalke has often mentioned Parcells as an influence, someone who helped shape his thinking regarding talent evaluation.
And it was hard not to recognize that influence while watching “Bill Parcells’ Draft Confidential,” a 90-minute special on ESPN on Tuesday night. The Big Tuna was talking, but it could have been Baalke.
Parcells’ quotes below are from the ESPN special. Baalke’s quotes are from last week’s pre-draft meeting with the media:
PARCELLS: “You have to go back to the basics. You have to go back and you have to remember how does this particular player play in pads, on the football field, under top game conditions. It’s not how does he run a three-cone drill, or a jingle-jangle, or a 40-yard dash, or a vertical jump. That’s not what we’re doing here. We’re drafting players that play football, in pads, on the football field. You’ve got to keep that in mind. – offering general draft advice
BAALKE: “… We try to go back to the film. In my opinion, coming up through the ranks as a scout, the eye in the sky doesn’t lie. We can get enamored with the combine workouts, pro-day workouts, we can get enamored with the interview sessions and things like that, but you have to at some point go back to the film. So we try and base the board and set the board on what the film tells us.” – on tendency to overanalyze players
PARCELLS: “We violated a principle and when you violate principles, invariably, it leaps up and bites you.” – on drafting QB Pat White in the second round in 2009.
BAALKE: “I think the number one thing I learned through the process is you’ve got to stick to your beliefs. Every time you make an exception, you usually get burned.” – on what he learned from running his first draft in 2010
• No telling if Parcells and Baalke are speaking the same language when it comes to this year’s draft class. If they are, though, the 49ers could also be attracted to the players below. Parcells cited them as ones to watch in this year’s draft:
Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue, 6-4, 263
Projection: First round
Kerrigan led the nation with 26 tackles for loss as a senior. He also led the Big Ten in sacks (12.5) and forced fumbles (5). He could end up as a 3-4 outside linebacker. With the Niners? Only if they trade back from No. 7.
Ryan Williams, RB, Virginia Tech, 5-10, 202
Projection: Second round
Williams rushed for 1,665 yards and 21 TDs in 2009. As a freshman. He was limited by a slightly torn hamstring this past season and was limited to 477 yards.
Casey Matthews, ILB, Oregon, 6-2, 237
Projection: Fourth to fifth round
Matthews obviously gets plenty of attention for a mid-round prospect due to his football bloodlines (and his hair doesn’t hurt).
Cedric Thornton, DT, Southern Arkansas, 6-3, 310
Projection: Fifth to sixth round
Thornton, a 215-pound linebacker in high school, walked-on at Division II Southern Arkansas. He’s gotten bigger. And better.
Ricardo Lockette, WR, Fort Valley State, 6-3, 199
Projection: Fifth to sixth round
Lockette has elite speed (I wish I’d come up with Lockette the Rocket), but had very ordinary production (23 catches, 262 yards) at the Division II level this past season.