In a piece now posted on ESPN.com, senior writer John Clayton writes on the recent injury to 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree and the trend of members from the 2009 draft class that are no longer with their original team.
Crabtree enters the final year of his rookie contract in 2013, and the cap-tight 49ers will need to make a difficult decision next offseason which could be tied to how he recovers from the recent setback.
While Crabtree performed at a high level last season, the class has largely (and especially among the first-round selections) failed to meet expectations that greeted them upon their NFL arrival.
While Sebastian Vollmer (second round) has evolved into arguably the best right tackle in the NFL and Julian Edelman (seventh round) proved last season that he can be an integral piece when healthy, the Patriots' 2009 class didn't pan out the way many expected. The team had four choices in the second round, with the three other besides Vollmer now playing for different teams (Ron Brace, Redskins; Darius Butler, Colts; Patrick Chung, Eagles).
That class was a Patriots-specific reminder that the draft is a difficult process for teams to consistently master, and also that "grades" are best handed-out at least a few years after the draft takes place.
And while the Patriots likely wish they could re-do some of those 2009 picks, it turns out, as Clayton notes, that they aren't the only team who hasn't seen the return on their investments that they anticipated.