Justin Smith recently signed a two-year contract extension in what seems like a deal that will see the cowboy retire as a 49er. Here at Bay Area Draft Guy we like to look at how signings effect draft outlooks. Since we are (sadly) very far from the next draft, we will look at how it changes the perception of the previous one. Until this years draft class hits the field, all they are is a perception anyways.
The most notable and obvious pick that had its perception and future role changed is the selection of Florida State DE Cornelius "Tank" Carradine. He was seen as someone who could have merited a first round selection by the 49ers and certainly could have gone much higher had he not needed ACL surgery during his final season at Florida St. In fact, he routinely out performed fellow Florida St. DE and first round pick, Bjoeren Werner.
Before Justin Smith was signed, it was common knowledge that the 49ers needed a player that could play defensive end in their 3-4 formation. This is a position that requires tremendous size and tenacity, as well as the abilities to occupy multiple blockers while stuffing the run and rushing the quarterback. This a a very difficult list to fulfill with one single player. That's the value in Justin Smith, he is that list. That is also the value in Carradine, even as a player out of college, he can still check off every requirement on that list.
So as far as the perception of this last draft, Carradine has moved from a necessity to more of a luxury. He will still play a key role because the 49ers needed depth along the defensive line. Carradine will no longer be seen as the immediate replacement to Smith however. On draft day this was such a great pick because Carradine could learn behind Smith for a year and then take over for him after Justin's assumed retirement. Well, now that Smith has three seasons left, Carradine is a luxury. He can play the defensive end in the 3-4 to give Justin Smith and Ray McDonald the rest they need, as well as play any position along the line in the 4-3 defense. Heck, if his speed comes back during his recovery they can train him as a spot 3-4 outside linebacker.
The value of a pick is based off the need and talent of the player when he is taken as compared to where he should have been selected. Now that Carradine is a rotation player and not an heir apparent, his value as a pick is much higher because he is no longer essential. Carradine is now just another layer of depth on what may be the leagues deepest team.