By: Barry Barnes, Founder/Senior Writer
The NFL Draft is a special, life changing event where the draftees’ dreams come true, similar to other sports. However, the stage for the NFL is more magnified because it’s the most popular sport across the land. The NFL Draft belongs to the new future stars of the league, and they cannot wait to make their mark on the world’s largest sporting stage. Here are the words of the newly drafted players from the 2013 NFL Draft.
“It feels amazing,” said 49ers’ safety Eric Reid, when asked how it feels to the Niner. “I think I’m a very cerebral player. I pride myself on knowing the defense. I pride myself on being able to get the guys lined up on the team, and being a great teammate and also doing my job. I’m very fortunate to be on such an incredible defense with the guys that are up there now, and I just can’t wait to get to work.”
Reid was the 49ers’ 18th-overall selection Thursday evening and he is projected to be a starter and help fill the huge shoes of former Niner Dashon Goldson, who signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“I play like him (Goldson), I’d say so,” said Reid. “We play with some serious contact at LSU, so it’s definitely something I have on my resume as a football player.”
Defensive end Cornellius Carradine was selected in the second round (40th-overall) and he’s honored to be a Niner and can’t wait to show what he can do.
“I’m very excited, really happy,” said Carradine. “It’s a great moment and time in my life. I’m so happy right now I don’t know what to do. It feels really great. I’m just glad to be a 49er. I had no idea. As a guy that’s coming off an injury, I was just up and running. I had no idea what team would probably want to take a chance on taking me.
“It’s exciting now to know that the 49ers were willing to take me,” he continued. “And I’m excited about it, I’m happy. I just can’t wait to get out there and show everyone what I can do.”
To fill in former tight end Delanie Walker’s role (who signed with the Tennessee Titans), tight end Vance McDonald from Rice was added to the mix as the 55th-overall pick, while defensive end Corey Lemonier from Auburn was bought in via the third round as the 88th-overall selection.
“I didn’t follow Delanie and his role in the offense,” said McDonald. “I know he was an unbelievable athlete and a great player for San Francisco this past season. Something I know that I’m very confident in my ability is just being able to play all over the field. I did play slot a bit at Rice, played inline. But, I’ve also lined up in the backfield and taken reverses from flank position off the ball.
“So, I’m very confident that whenever I get there and I’m developed and told and coached to do, that I’ll be able to perform the way that they’re wanting.”
Alabama’s defensive end Quinton Dial was selected in the fifth round as the 157th-overall selection, linebacker Nick Moody went in the sixth round (180th-overall), and rounding out the seventh round were quarterback B.J. Daniels (237th-overall), tackle Carter Bykowski and cornerback Marcus Cooper (252nd-overall).
“I expect to contribute immediately on special teams and that’s been the plan,” said Moody who is expecting to see some time at linebacker. “I knew that going into the draft that that was the plan for me immediately. Contribute on special teams because of what I did on special teams during my college career. The guys I’ll be around, I feel like I’ll be able to learn a lot playing alongside (LB) NaVorro Bowman and (LB) Patrick Willis.
“It’s a great situation for me, especially for me not really playing linebacker for most of my career, I feel like playing with those guys can really help me elevate my game,” he added.
Clearly, the selection of Saturday for the 49ers was their choice of running back Marcus Lattimore from South Carolina. Lattimore suffered a devastating knee injury last season, which appeared to be career-threatening as ligaments in his right knee was torn. Prior to last season, the 131st-overall pick injured his left knee the year before.
The 49ers have the luxury of allowing Lattimore to heal and red-shirt his rookie season due to Frank Gore’s ability to handle the back field.
“This is a great opportunity with a great organization and I just can’t wait to get there,” said Lattimore when asked about becoming a Niner. “I’ve always been a fan of those guys, just their style of play and how they do everything. I’m so excited I get to work with all the great running backs and everybody on the team. It’s just going to be a great experience.”
Gore sustained a similar injury while in college, but managed to become a four-time Pro Bowler. Gore will help school Lattimore through his mental and physical preparation. Lattimore believes he can emulate Gore’s style.
“He (Gore) was just asking me how I’m handling all this situation (via phone conversation) because he’s been through the same thing with the injuries and all,” said Lattimore. “He’s just told me to keep that positive mindset and that’s what I’ve been doing these past five, six months. And I feel like that’s why I’m doing so great with my rehab.
“He can catch the ball. I feel like I catch the ball well,” he added. “He can pass protect. He’s an all-around back. That’s what I’m trying to emulate my style off because with his success, there’s no question that it works. So, that’s what I’m trying to do. I’m trying to get better in all three phases of those games.”
Lattimore stole the headlines during the 49ers’ draft, but their 128th-overall pick, wide receiver Quinton Patton, will steal the headlines during the season, and he is not afraid to speak about his abilities.
“Quinton Patton, Louisiana Tech, fast, strong (inaudible), a blocker, able to block 60 yards downfield (inaudible). Just an ultimate team player. Ultimate competitor out there on the field,” said Patton when asked to describe himself and his play during his conference call.
Patton plays with tons of swag and is extremely vocal on the field, but he can back it up. Patton has great hands, fundamentally sound, not afraid of contact and has solid game speed. He can easier be compared to Philadelphia Eagles’ wide receiver DeSean Jackson, just not as fast, due to his play.
Nevertheless, Patton has the perfect teammate to help mold him, as his game is more similar to wide receiver Anquan Boldin.
“I’m probably put in the perfect position that I am right now, to learn somebody that’s older (Boldin), is wise and that knows how to play the position,” said Patton.
Among the 49ers’ Big Three pass catchers in Davis, Boldin and Michael Crabtree, Patton will see some playing time on the field, and perhaps as a return specialist. Either way, Patton was a solid pick and will become an impactful player for years to come.
“I’m open to whatever they need me to do,” said Patton. “I’m trying to make an immediate impact on my team in the best way I can. It doesn’t matter what it is, we’ll just do it.”
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