Draft Review- 04/22/2001
The 49ers seem to have had a very successful draft. The team addressed it's primary concern of a lack of pass rush in the first round, added depth at linebacker in the second with a possible starter, and got what seems to be a steal of a running back in the third. In round six the team found a kick returner and possible fourth receiver, a cornerback to add depth to the position and a defensive tackle who can push Reggie McGrew and Cederick Killings. In the seventh round the 49ers drafted another linebacker, this time solely for depth and ended the draft with a tight end, a position few people thought the 49ers would address.
The addition of Andre Carter at defensive end is huge for the 49ers. Carter is a student of the game, and his dad a former nose tackle, and now coach has been teaching Carter the game since he was a youngster. His father even used video of Carter playing at college to teach players in the NFL. Carter is miles ahead of any other defensive lineman coming out of college in terms of technique.
Jamie Winborn is a really solid linebacking prospect. Winborn will compete with last years draftee Jeff Ulbrich who spent the season on the injured reserve. Winborn is a fast, read and react, intelligent linebacker that could make an impact on the 49ers defense. At the very least he will provide much needed depth to a position that should be stronger than originally anticipated with the loss of Tubbs and Norton.
The 49ers are quite happy that Kevin Barlow dropped into the third round. The running back was one of the backs the team felt could help, and will be given the chance to become the first offensive rookie starter on the 49ers in a long time. Barlow is hard hitting back that finishes every run moving forward. He has played in the West Coast Offense and has good hands and football instincts. At the very least Barlow will rotate with Hearst, Smith and Lewis in a running back by committee method that may take place this season.
The 49ers didn't have another pick until the sixth round. Many including myself thought the team would trade up into the fourth or fifth round, but apparently there wasn't a player the team felt was worth losing picks over. In the sixth round the 49ers first selection was Cedrick Wilson. Wilson, a wide receiver will spend most of his time returning kicks for the 49ers. He is expected to compete with Dwight Carter for the fourth receiving position.
Rashad Holman was the 49ers next selection. The picking of Holman, a cornerback, likely means that the 49ers wont go into next season with the same members of the defensive backfield as this season. Holman has size and speed and could be a contributor in nickel and dime packages.
The 49ers final pick of the sixth round was a defensive tackle. Menson Holloway, is a bit of a tweener, being a little too short for end, and a little to small for tackle. He has a good motor, and was likely drafted to jump start Reggie McGrew, Walsh's first pick since being back with the 49ers. The 49ers need help at defensive tackle, and are still looking to add Dana Stubblefield to the mix.
In the seventh round the 49ers went after another linebacker to add some extra depth to the position. Alex Lincoln was there man. Lincoln is not the most talented of players, is a self made football player, but is more determined than almost anyone. He will be a good back up for this defense, and could become a regular contributor if he benefits from NFL coaching.
The 49ers final pick of the draft, who is dubbed "Mr. Irrelevant" every season, was tight end Eric Johnson. Johnson will compete with Justin Smith and Terrence Dupree for a back up tight end position, and may out play one of them. Johnson is more of a receiving tight end than a blocker, and would be a help for the West Coast Offense. He will need to work on some mechanics to make it at the next level.
All in all the 49ers had a successful draft. The team addressed it's primary concerns and added much needed depth in many positions. The team will likely sign a bunch of Undrafted Free Agents shortly after the draft in the hopes of finding a few gems that way, and to fill out the roster. If Andre Carter turns out to be as good as predicted, this draft coupled with last season's could become the cornerstone of the franchise for years to come.