LaMichael James

Draft Grades: San Francisco 49ers

The San Francisco 49ers had a chance to fill some holes in this draft but reached too often and failed to add any instant-impact players. It was a disappointing haul for a team hoping to make another deep playoff run in 2012.

A.J. Jenkins is a talented receiver but was a huge reach in the late 1st round. He put together a solid 2011 season, but has always been inconsistent and had a history of clashing with his coaches at Illinois. Ron Zook openly criticized his attitude on multiple occasions. It will be interesting to see how he gets along with Jim Harbaugh, who isn’t the type to put up with diva receivers.

LaMichael James is a dangerous weapon, but this was too early for a player who projects as a career backup with character and injury concerns. He’ll have to compete with Kendall Hunter and Brandon Jacobs for carries behind Frank Gore, and could legitimately end up as the 4th-string running back.

Joe Looney was a solid value in the 4th round. He’ll have a chance to compete for the starting job at right guard.

Darius Fleming will compete for a backup job at outside linebacker behind Ahmad Brooks and Aldon Smith.

Trent Robinson could be a steal in the 6th round. He’s a prototypical free safety who could compete for playing time if Dashon Goldson continues to struggle in coverage as he has the past few years.

Jason Slowey is a developmental prospect who will be groomed to potentially replace 33-year-old Jonathan Goodwin in a few years.

I love the selection of Cam Johnson. He’s had a history of injuries which likely led to his fall, but could be one of the better steals of this class. If healthy, he’s a better prospect than Darius Fleming.

The 49ers whiffed with their first two picks. Even if Jenkins develops into a quality receiver, they missed an opportunity to add someone who could make a more immediate impact. But while their early picks were disappointing, they did find some value in the later rounds which could allow them to salvage something from this draft class.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 49ers, Draft Grades - 2012 Leave a comment

LaMichael James scouting report

LaMichael James RB Oregon #21
Ht: 5’9″Wt: 185
Strengths:
Elite speed and overall quickness. Exceptional change-of-direction ability. Always a threat to take it the distance. Consistently makes defenders miss; rarely brought down by one man once he’s in the open field. Willing to go between the tackles despite lack of size. Effective receiver out of the backfield; relatively good hands. Gives a decent effort when asked to block. Some experience returning punts.
Weaknesses:
Vastly undersized. Does not have the build to hold up as a full time starter at the next level. Doesn’t have the strength to shed tackles; once he’s wrapped, he’s down. Has a somewhat reckless running style; doesn’t have great body control once he’s moving at full speed. Skill set doesn’t match what NFL teams want from their feature back. Limited experience on special teams; only 16 career kick/punt returns. Arrested on domestic violence charge in 2010. Missed two games with dislocated right elbow in 2011. Injured left elbow in 2011 regular-season finale. Suffered knee injury in 2010.
Comments:
James was an explosive collegiate running back, but he will likely be relegated to the role of specialist in the NFL. There’s always room on an NFL roster for a player who can take it to the house on any given play, but his lack of size and strength limits the situations in which he can useful in an NFL offense.  The best recent comparison for James may be Jerome Harrison, who lit up the Pac-10 in 2005 with the Washington State Cougars, but has only been marginally effective in the NFL. In the right offense he can still be a weapon, but will never be the go-to guy.
Videos:
2011 vs LSU
2011 vs Arizona 

 

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Scouting Reports - 2012 Leave a comment