The 2014 NFL draft is coming up soon. This draft class is said to be the deepest in a while. It is said to specifically be deep at corner back. This coincidentally is a position that many expect the San Francisco 49ers to have their eyes on a number of players from the secondary. Yesterday we took a look at some of the offensive players to watch in the upcoming Scouting Combine. Today we will take a look at the defensive players that 49ers fans need to watch.
Defensive Linemen: The 49ers are pretty well set at defensive line for now but they do have Justin Smith’s contract expiring. The Seattle Seahawks showed everyone last year that you can never enough pass rushers to rotate into the game.
Dominique Easley DL09 Group 7 – This high motor defensive tackle would be a first round pick if it wasn’t for his injury. He tore his anterior cruciate ligament and medial meniscus in his right knee this year. In 2011 he tore his ACL in his left knee. Needless to say, he is someone to keep track of when it comes to medical examinations. The reports will leak out and the 49ers need to be on top of the evaluations.
Ra’shede Hageman DL16 Group 7 – Wait until you see how he measures at the weigh ins. This is a mammoth of a man. Watch his splits in the forty yard dash, specifically his first 10 yard split. There have been some questions about his change of pace ability so be sure to watch him in the bag drills. Don’t be surprised to see him put up numbers on the bench that are near the top of the group.
DaQuan Jones DL22 Group 7 – Jones reportedly lost 25 pounds yet he still measures in at 323 pounds. Let’s see how his body is put together during weigh ins. He will surprise some with his agility despite his size.
Joshua Mauro DL30 Group 8 – Mauro played tight end and quarterback in high school so the athleticism is there. Let’s see how he does in the field drills and don’t forget to pay close attention to his performance on the bench.
Outside Linebackers: Aldon Smith and Ahmad Brooks are two of the better outside linebackers. Brooks sets the edge with authority and Aldon Smith is an elite pass rusher. The 49ers also have Corey Lemonier and it wouldn’t hurt to target one of the later round OLBs in this draft.
Jeremiah Attaochu LB01 Group 9 – Attaochu is an athletic player that should weigh in around
6-3 252 pounds. His athleticism will show in the field drills. Expect to see him run a pretty fast short shuttle. Be sure to also focus on his 10 and 20 yard splits which will show why he has such a good get off at the snap.
Trevor Reilly LB24 Group 9 – Reilly has very good lateral agility and that will show during his short shuttle. He is a very athletic player so like some of the others, watch him in the field drills.
Safeties: Eric Reid was a home run last year. The 49ers traded up for him and he came through on the promise. This may be another year where they have to replace another pro bowl safety in Donte Whitner.
Dione Bailey DB03 Group 10 – Bailey is a hybrid linebacker and safety. He is an athletic player that will show how well he accelerates by recording a very fast 10 and 20 yard split. His short backpedal and fluid hips will show in the field drills also.
Deone Bucannon DB10 Group 10 – Bucannon will wow everyone with his physique at the weigh in. He said that he has really been working on showing that his hips can be fluid and that he can change direction well for a big safety. Watch him in the backpedal and change of direction drills. Don’t be surprised if he is also near the top on the bench.
Cornerbacks: The 49ers will probably lose Tarell Brown to free agency and if Carlos Rogers doesn’t take a pay cut, he will be gone as well.
Bashuad Breeland DB08 Group 10 – Breeland is listed at six feet but on tape he looks like he is 6-1 or 6-2. Let’s see what he actually measures in at. If he does measure at 6-1 or taller, that will be a win for him.
Kyle Fuller DB22 Group 10 – Fuller should run well in the 4.4 range. Let’s see how he does in the vertical jump. Also watch how he clicks and closes in the field drills. You will see that he closes fast.
Pierre Desir DB17 Group 10 – Desir is a lanky corner that can really keep his momentum going if he can run well. When I asked him what he predicts he will run at the combine, his answer was simply “Fast.” He will grade out nicely in every drill and excel in the field drills.
Justin Gilbert DB25 Group 10 – The one thing that Gilbert can do to help his draft stock is run well. Expect him to be near the top in the forty and short shuttle.
Stanley Jean Baptiste DB31 Group 11 – SJB as he is referred to as is a lanky corner that will impress with his lean frame at weigh ins. His wingspan will be an asset also. Let’s see how he runs and also what he does in the field drills. Can he click and close well?
Louchiez Purifoy DB44 Group 11 – Purifoy is an athlete that has been compared to Patrick Peterson. Let’s see if he runs anything like him. Purifoy will look good in every drill because of his elite athleticism.
Bradley Roby DB49 Group 11 – Roby is one of the premier athletes at the combine. He will run well and is a very smooth corner. There won’t be an area that he won’t be impressive at the combine.
Jason Verrett DB55 Group 11 – Verrett is a smaller corner but how small is the question. His height and weight could possibly be a hinderance to his being a first day pick. Verrett is a fighter though. He will more than likely have the best vertical jump out of everyone.
These are some names to watch from a 49ers perspective. Players such as Khalil Mack and Anthony Barr were left out because they probably won’t be available. The safety and corner class offer a good amount of additional prospects to look at such as Jimmie Ward, Lamarcus Joyner and Dee Ford. There are always players that surprise at the combine but the question is, who will it be?