If you step back from looking solely at this year's draft class and instead take in the two combined draft hauls under the new(er) Scott Pioli-helmed regime, you may find some consistencies that could have led us to predict a few of this year's draft picks. And certainly, none of us saw the second round choices coming this year (or even anything after that).
On the outside, the two draft classes look completely unique. Tyson Jackson was considered a reach by nearly everyone and it filled a draft need more than the traditional "best player available" approach. It was also a choice where finances of a top-three pick came into play. This year, it was the total oppposite for Eric Berry. Sure, safety was a need, but four (or more) other positions could make that same claim. Yet it was the ability to grab a potentially elite playmaker that earned Berry's name on the draft card, finances be damned.
Yet below the first-round picks, it was clear even last year that Pioli apparently loved a certain quality in his defensive backs: sheer athleticism. Eric Berry and Javier Arenas share the same trait that they excel with their athleticism. And that's exactly what was written about last year's cornerback, Donald Washington. The knock against Washington was his lack of experience and the questionable choice to leave school when his last year was one where he could excel out from under the shadow of fellow Ohio State corner Malcolm Jenkins.
But he still became a fourth round pick, albeit a raw one, for his incredible athleticism, including his 45-inch vertical leap at the Combine as well as his 11'3" broad jump -- the best of any draftees from the class of 2009. Combined with his quickness, Washington still holds a lot of promise as a cornerback in the NFL and should mix well with the new company from the class of 2010. And, after a couple draft classes, perhaps we're making some sense of how Pioli likes his defensive backs to measure up.