Heading into the 2013 NFL Draft, the San Francisco 49ers knew that they had some wiggle room to work with. Coming off a Super Bowl appearance and wielding a plethora of draft picks, not every selection needed to be a home run.
That, however, doesn’t mean that reaches were completely excusable.
When the 49ers drafted Auburn defensive end Corey Lemonier in the third round, they reached. The career underachiever has never lived up to his potential as an edge rusher, and certainly won’t live up to expectations after San Francisco made him the No. 88 overall pick this past April.
If the draft was based strictly on physical tools, Lemonier would have gone more in the late-first to early-second round range. The measurables are off the charts, especially when it comes to speed and burst off of the line. Lemonier’s athleticism is simply undeniable.
For a third-round pick, though, the production and film just aren’t there. Throughout his college career, Lemonier appeared to depend solely on his quickness around the edge to make plays. Meanwhile, his technique, get-off and overall understanding of the position fell by the wayside. He failed to develop a repertoire of effective countermoves and played undisciplined. Put simply, Lemonier just leaves you wanting more whenever you look at his on-field performances of 2012.
You want an example? Just look up the film of Lemonier against Texas A&M left tackle Luke Joeckel, now of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Throughout the entire game, Joeckel stonewalls Lemonier, not allowing him an inch in the pass rush. Not only does he struggle to put any sort of pressure on the quarterback, but is routinely the last person to get off the ball. My opinion of him isn’t based solely off that game, but it was a prime example of how ineffective Lemonier can be against an NFL-caliber tackle.
That’s not what you want to see, especially from a player coming off of the board that early. Frankly, I’m not sure why the 49ers saw it fit to snag Lemonier that early.
When it comes down to it, Lemonier reminds me a lot of Aaron Maybin, one of the biggest non-QB busts in NFL history. He was underwhelming during his junior season, and will likely offer the 49ers more of the same at the next level.
Jim Harbaugh is a master of bringing out the best in football players, but Lemonier just seems like too tall of a task, especially in the third round.