Sports Out West

NFL Draft 2014: 49ers might look heavily at cornerback in first round

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If there is one trend Trent Baalke has shown during his time as general manager of the San Francisco 49ers, it’s the tendency to move up in the draft when possible in order to secure the player he has targeted. From Anthony Davis to Colin Kaepernick to Eric Reid, the 49ers have made trades when necessary to ensure the players they covet are wearing red and gold.

Expect nothing different in 2014.

With questions surrounding the team’s cornerback position, it’s a safe bet the 49ers will target one early, most likely within the first couple of rounds. Considering they will have a myriad of picks to work with, don’t rule out an aggressive move to shoot up the draft board at some point to select the top corner on their board.

Below is a look at some cornerback prospects who could be in play for San Francisco. 

Darqueze Dennard, Michigan State

Dennard is considered by many to be the top cornerback in the draft and has been off the board as early as pick number 10 in some mock drafts. He was a three-year starter who had one of his finest seasons to date in 2013, intercepting four passes and defending another 10. Those numbers are very similar to his 2012 campaign (three interceptions and 10 passes defensed) which speaks to Dennard’s consistency.

The 49ers will most likely have to make a significant jump to get Dennard, but do have the fire power to do so.

Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State

Already one of the top defensive backs available, Gilbert only helped his stock with a strong performance at the NFL combine. Gilbert has the size and speed to be able to lock down receivers and played at a consistently high level in 2013. He has natural big play ability which can lead to game-changing plays. Gilbert returned two of his Big 12-leading seven interceptions for touchdowns last year.

In addition to his coverage skills, Gilbert can also provide a spark in the return game, as he has taken six career kickoff returns back for scores.

Justin Verret, TCU

Verrett is a scrappy, physical corner who plays smart and sound in his coverage. He is limited in size (5-foot-9) but his speed (4.38 40) makes up for it. If the 49ers are truly content with Tramaine Brock and Chris Culliver on the outside, Verrett could be a nice addition to the team’s nickel cover role, which would currently be held by either Eric Wright or Chris Cook.

 

Kyle Fuller, Virginia Tech

If the 49ers stay put in the first round and pick 30th, Fuller could fall right into their laps. He is technically sound and can play the run and the pass equally well. There is some concern about his frame, as he stands six feet tall but weighs 190 pounds. If he can’t bulk up, there could be some issues matching up against some of the league’s bigger wide receivers

Photo: USA Today Sports

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Al Sacco

Al Sacco is sports expert who knows football, baseball, basketball and hockey. He has spent his time as a sports journalist covering the San Francisco 49ers as a staff writer for 49erswebzone.com and 49ersgab.com. He is also a contributor to Yahoo! Voices and has had his work used on ESPN NFL Insiders.