The best of the last, Part 2: We have a winner

We know all about Cam Newton’s quotes and Jake Locker’s accuracy and Patrick Peterson’s Wonderlic. But NFL history has repeatedly shown that a few prospects we know absolutely nothing about will become better pros than some of the pre-draft darlings.

Who will be this year’s sixth-round celebs? The Niners, who currently own six picks after the fifth round, could have a few chances to discover whatever hidden treasures are in April’s draft. And they hope to continue their recent string of late-round success – eight of their 10 sixth- or seventh-round picks from the past three years remain on the roster.

The Niners, for all their Raushan Woods-esque bombs, have actually drafted fairly well long after the commissioner has left the stage at Radio City Music Hall. In fact, they’ve drafted enough late-round players — ranging from functional to very good — to inspire “The 49ers’ Top-10 Sixth- or Seventh-Round Picks Since 2000” series.

Here’s Part 1, which includes Nos. 6-10. And here’s Part 2:

5. Kyle Kosier, G, Arizona State
Year: 2002
Round, pick: 7th, No. 249 overall
Three offensive linemen drafted before Kosier: Eric Heitmann, Stanford, 49ers (7th, No. 239 overall); Chris Massey, Marshall, Rams (7th, 243); Kevin Shaffer, Tulsa, Falcons (7th, 244).
Offensive linemen drafted after Kosier: Victor Rogers, Colorado, Lions (7th, 259).
Analysis: Kosier, who played three seasons in San Francisco, has been a versatile offensive lineman who has made 109 starts in nine seasons, the past five as a left guard with the Cowboys. Not bad for a guy who was 13 draft spots away from being Mr. Irrelevant.
Best 6th- or 7th-round offensive lineman in 2002: Heitmann.

4. Andy Lee, P, Pittsburgh
Year: 2004
Round, pick: 6th, No. 188 overall
Three players drafted before Lee: Andy Hall, QB, Delaware, Eagles; Etric Pruitt, DB, Southern Miss, Falcons; Josh Harris, QB, Bowling Green; Ravens.
Three players drafted after Lee: Craig Terill, DB, Purdue, Seahawks; Josh Sewell, OL, Nebraska, Broncos; Troy Fleming, RB, Tennessee, Titans.
Others punters taken in draft: B.J. Sander, Ohio State (3rd, 87th overall); Donnie Jones, LSU (7th, 224).
Analysis: Lee is a two-time all-Pro and arguably the second-best punter in the league behind Oakland’s Shane Lechler. But he isn’t higher on the list because the sixth round, or thereabouts, is generally where the NFL’s best punters are drafted – if they are drafted at all. Of the NFL’s top 10 punters last year (in terms of average), three were seventh-round picks, three were fifth-rounders and two were undrafted free agents. Miami’s Daniel Sepulveda, a fourth-round pick, was the only top-10 punter selected before the fifth round.
Best 6th- or 7th-round pick in 2004: Patrick Crayton, WR, NW Oklahoma State, Cowboys (7th, 216).

3. Delanie Walker, TE, Central Missouri State
Year: 2006
Round, pick: 6th, No. 175 overall
Three TEs drafted before Walker: Jeff King, Virginia Tech, Panthers (5th, 155); Quinn Sypniewski, Colorado, Ravens (5th, 166); Charles Davis, Purdue, Steelers (5th, 167).
TEs taken drafted Walker: T.J. Williams, North Carolina State, Buccaneers (6th, 202); Tim Massaquoi, Michigan, Buccaneers (7th, 244).
Analysis: Based on his modest career numbers – 83 catches for 923 yards and 2 TDs – this ranking might seem too high for Walker. But on another team — that is, one without Vernon Davis — Walker would have a much higher profile. When Davis missed most of the Denver game with an ankle injury this past season, Walker responded with five catches for a career-high 85 yards.
Best 6th- or 7th-round TE in 2006: Walker. Not much competition – Williams and Massaquoi never caught a pass in the NFL.

2. Josh Morgan, WR, Virginia Tech
Year: 2008
Round, pick: 6th, No. 174 overall
Three WRs drafted before Morgan: Kenny Moore, Wake Forest, Panthers (5th, 136th overall); Matt Slater, UCLA, Patriots (5th, 153); Marcus Henry, Kansas, Jets (6th, 171).
Three WRs drafted after Morgan: Kevin Robinson, Utah State, Chiefs (6th, 182); Paul Hubbard, Wisconsin, Browns (6th, 191); Jaymar Johnson, Jackson State, Vikings (6th, 193).
Analysis: We know about quarterbacks. But do you think it might be hard to project how college receivers will fare in the NFL? The eight wideouts drafted directly ahead of Morgan have combined for 80 career catches and 806 yards. Morgan has 116 catches for 1,554 yards in his career and ranked 14th in the NFL in yards per reception (15.9) in 2010. Morgan actually has better career numbers than the first four wide receivers drafted in 2008 — second-rounders Donnie Avery, Devin Thomas, Jordy Nelson and James Hardy.
Best 6th- or 7th-round WR in 2006: Pierre Garcon, Mount Union, Colts (6th, 205); Steve Johnson, Kentucky, Bills (7th, 224).

1. Eric Heitmann, C, Stanford
Year: 2002
Round, pick: 7th, No. 239 overall
Three offensive linemen drafted before Heitmann: Pete Campion, North Dakota State, Panthers (7th, 213th overall); Mike Pucillo, Auburn, Bills (7th, 215); Joaquin Gonzalez, Miami, Browns (7th, 227).
Three offensive linemen drafted after Heitmann: Chris Massey, Marshall, Rams (7th, 243); Kevin Shaffer, Tulsa, Falcons (7th, 244); Kyle Kosier, Arizona State, 49ers (7th, 248).
Analysis: The reliable and consistent Heitmann became the first 49ers rookie offensive lineman to start a game in 15 years when he debuted in 2002 and has since become a three-time winner of the Bobb McKittrick Award, the top honor given to a Niners offensive lineman. His future appears uncertain after a broken leg and neck injury wiped out his 2010 season, but he’s already logged 114 starts. That’s a nice investment on the 239th player selected in a draft.
Best 6th- or 7th-round offensive lineman in 2002: Heitmann.

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