Let’s examine Trent Baalke’s draft resume.
According to the Niners media guide, Trent Baalke has called the shots on draft weekend the last two years. Here’s what it says about him: “Prior to being named the 49ers GM, Baalke served as Vice President of Player Personnel for the team in 2010, as he oversaw all aspects of player personnel, including the team’s draft process. For the first time in his career, he commanded a NFL team’s draft room, and netted eight selections that went on to make the team’s opening-day roster.”
There have been rumors since 2010 that Baalke didn’t really want to draft Taylor Mays – Mike Singletary commanded him to pick the Trojan. I don’t know anything about that. Baalke’s resume says he commanded the war room and takes credit for all eight of those 2010 draft picks, so I’m giving him the credit for Mays and everything else.
Let’s brake down each draft pick he’s made the last two years and give him an overall grade.
1st round – 11th pick: Anthony Davis. Baalke traded up two spots, costing the Niners a fourth round pick, for 20-year old right tackle expected to start right away. Stunk right away, of course. Improved, and could be one of the best right tackles in the league in his prime. He’s certainly athletic enough, and he’ better than the next RT drafted in 2010 – Bryan Bulaga. Grade: B+.
1st round – 17th pick: Mike Iupati. Can’t miss left guard who’s been good since Day 1. Still, Baalke missed out on Dez Bryant and Rob Gronkowski. Grade: A-.
2nd round – 49th pick: Taylor Mays. Traded to the Bengals in August for a seventh rounder. Baalke missed out on Ben Tate, Toby Gerhart and Javier Arenas. Grade: F.
3rd round – 91st pick: NaVorro Bowman. All-pro inside linebacker last season. The 8th linebacker drafted, but the best one in hindsight. Baalke knocked this pick out of the park. Grade: A+.
6th round – 173rd pick: Anthony Dixon. He’s failed as a short-yardage back in his young career, but he has the size and athleticism to be good. He’s going to have to beat out Brandon Jacobs in training camp. This is doable – Jacobs is the softest big running back in the NFL Grade: C.
6th round – 182nd pick: Nate Byham. Baalke drafted him to be a blocking tight end and missed out on stud wideout Antonio Brown, whom the Steelers drafted 13 picks later. Byham tore his knee up the first day of training trying to catch a pass in the flat with no one around him. Grade: D-.
6th round – 206th pick: Kyle Williams. The best wide receiver available, but Baalke should have draft WR Antonio Brown with his previous pick. Grade: B.
7th round – 224th pick: Phillip Adams. Played 13 games as rookie, but broke his ankle at the end of the season and got cut the following training camp. Baalke missed Cal CB Syd’Quan Thompson, whom the Broncos drafted 1 pick later. Apparently Baalke doesn’t watch Cal games. Grade: D.
1st round – 7th pick: Aldon Smith. Pushed the defense over the top. Grade: A+.
2nd round – 36th pick: Colin Kaepernick. Backup last season; could be the third-stringer this year. Baalke drafted him to be a three-year project, so it’s tough to judge him until 2014. Grade: INC.
3rd round – 80th pick: Chris Culliver. Instead of drafting Prince Amukamara in the first round, Baalke picked a pass rusher and waited until the 80th pick to address the Niners’ biggest need – cornerback. Culliver was a very good nickel back his rookie season and has the potential to be a No. 1 CB one day. Baalke gets bonus points for recognizing the potential because Culliver was a safety in college. Baalke dominates the third round two years in a row. Grade: A+.
4th round – 115th pick: Kendall Hunter. Productive right away as a change-of-pace running back. Not good running between the tackles, but excellent on outside runs, big-time potential in the screen game. Grade: A.
5th round – 163rd pick: Daniel Kilgore. Baalke traded up to draft this interior lineman whom the coaches like very much. He could start as early as this season at right guard. He’s slotted for the center job after Jonathan Goodwin leaves Grade: A.
6th round – 182nd pick: Ronald Johnson. Didn’t make the team out of training camp on a team desperate for wide receivers. Small and slow. Baalke missed on Stanford wide receiver Doug Baldwin, who had a very good rookie season for the Seahawks. Baalke has a history of drafting terrible Trojans. Grade: F.
6th round – 190th pick: Colin Jones: Good special teams player right away, which is exactly what Baalke wanted. Grade: B+.
7th round – 211th pick: Bruce Miller. Defensive end in college who is already a very good NFL fullback. Can block, catch and run. Grade: A+.
7th round – 239th pick: Mike Person. Made the team his rookie year and appears to have a future as on the Niners as a versatile backup offensive lineman. Think the next Adam Snyder. Grade: A.
7th round – 250th pick: Curtis Holcomb. Ruptured his Achilles tendon the first day of training camp. Grade: INC.
Before I give give you Baalke’s draft GPA, let me explain how I calculated it. I weighted all draft picks the same. Why should Baalke get less credit for drafting NaVorro Bowman in the third round than if he had drafted Bowman in the first round? That wouldn’t make sense.
Baalke’s job is to make every pick an A+, so I graded him accordingly.
Baalke’s draft GPA: 2.9
That’s a low B, and that’s because he has two F’s and two D’s on his report card. The good news – three of those awful grades came in 2010, so Baalke’s improving.