Trent Baalke hit the lotto two years in a row with his third round picks — NaVorro Bowman and Chris Culliver. Neither pick drew oohs and aahs at the time. More like who’s and wha’s.
Bowman stepped in for Takeo Spikes last year and played at an all pro level the entire year. Culliver zoomed up the depth chart in his rookie year and looks primed to take over for Carlos Rogers, should Rogers leave via free agency.
That’s good drafting. The previous two third round picks, by Scot McCloughan, were Glen Coffee and Reggie Smith. That’s bad drafting.
Culliver was a tweener who was good at both tweens, and Smith was a tweener who was good at no tweens. Coffee had no heart for the game, and that’s bad research into a guy’s character. Or failure to recognize a liar when you meet one.
But McCloughan had an excuse for his less than stellar last two drafts. His head was in the bottle and his marriage was on the rocks. That’s a fine combo for a bloggin man dude or a poet, but not that great for keen player evaluations.
By the time many of you begin to gloss over today’s post, Peyton Manning will already be a free agent. He and Jim Irsay will shed a few tears over each other at noon EST today. Then the great shroud of mystery surrounding Manning’s right arm will finally be lifted. NFL paparozzi will follow his every move, feeding a hungry offseason football nation a steady diet of clues about which team Manning will decide to join next.
Many 49er fans would love to see Manning come here, but a more realistic curiosity would be whether he joins the Arizona Cardinals. The Cards have made no secret of their lustful intentions, which can’t be making Kevin Kolb all that happy. If Manning comes, Kolb goes. That’s pretty much the deal with the devil that any team will have to make if they sign Manning.
But it’s hard to imagine Manning leaving the AFC for an NFC team. Starting over is hard enough, but Manning has 14 years of AFC experience versus zero years of NFC time, so staying in the same conference would definitely make him more comfortable and knowledgeable going forward. Everybody talks about Miami as a destination, but there’s another team in Florida, too. One that’s in the same familiar division, with a great running game, and a young QB who would be thrilled (and maybe relieved) to sit behind Manning for a couple of years.
49er fans will have to make do for another week until free agency kicks in league wide. It would be surprising if we don’t see several current players re-signed in this period. Alex Smith and Carlos Rogers are the two biggest names in this group, but it would be nice to see Ted Ginn, Adam Snyder, and Josh Morgan re-up, too.
We’re getting close to the official beginning of the 2012 league season, though. One more week. How’s the wife? How’re the kids? How’s the boss? How’s your mistress? Hey, just kidding. You looked a little tense there, though. Anything I should know?