The day has finally come for the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft to begin. The San Francisco 49ers have a few needs to fill. They’ll need to secure a wide receiver that can stretch the field along with a playmaker in the secondary.
There are some options for the 49ers if they want to get a receiver in the first round but it will likely require a trade up. Odell Beckham Jr. is a name that has been tied to the 49ers. He’s had visits with the New York Jets and the Philadelphia Eagles. They’ll have to move up to get Beckham.
Brandin Cooks is another receiver that the 49ers could consider. He told me that the 49ers were one of the first teams to contact him. He’s been on his share of visits and he said that every visit went well. The 49ers would have to trade up to get Cooks.
Cody Latimer is a receiver that would likely be there for the 49ers if they stay put at pick 30. Latimer has generated a lot of buzz and the 49ers had a 90 minute session going over the playbook with him after a recent workout.
The other need that has to be addressed in this draft is the void left in the secondary due to the departure of Carlos Rogers and Tarell Brown. Kyle Fuller, Bradley Roby, Darqueze Dennard, Jason Verrett and Justin Gilbert are the likely targets at cornerback.
Fuller would be a solid edition due to his nickel ability along with his physicality. Jim Harbaugh was in attendance for his pro day at Virginia Tech. It’s very unlikely that he would go past the San Diego Chargers at pick 25.
Darqueze Dennard doesn’t seem to be a fit for the 49ers. He’s more of a true press corner that has to get his hands on the receiver at the line of scrimmage. He could drop in the draft but it’s not likely that he will be there when the 49ers pick.
Jason Verrett is a corner that many see going to the 49ers. He’s a bit undersized but he makes up for it with his tenacious style of play. His ability to play the nickel will surely be appealing. Some teams may pass on him due to his size. He will probably be there for the 49ers at the bottom of the first round.
Roby is a player that is a tremendous athlete. He was my top rated corner coming into the season. There’s been some off the field issues that may cause him to drop. He is surely a target for the 49ers.
Roby told me that he had dinner with defensive backs coach Ed Donatell. The next day they sat in the office and talked. He said that he feels the coaching staff will make him better and that he is a match for their off man scheme.
There’s been a lot of interest in Roby and he would be a great pick even if they moved up to get him. However, Justin Gilbert is the player that I think the 49ers will select.
Gilbert told me that some teams have told him that they’re very interested in him but they know he won’t be there when they pick.
There have been some questions about his lack of physicality at the line of scrimmage. I asked him specifically about that and he said that it was due to the press-bail technique that he was taught at Oklahoma State. He assured me that he has the strength to press (pointed out his 20 reps on the bench at the Combine). Gilbert uses his athleticism to shadow receivers. He is an absolute ball hawk and is a major threat to score when he gets an interception. Gilbert also will fill the need for an explosive punt and kickoff returner
The 49ers desperately need a play maker at the corner back position. I predict them trading up to either the Detroit Lions at pick 10 or the Tennessee Titans at pick 11. This would require a hefty amount of compensation but the 49ers have an abundance of picks. They could package the 30th pick along with two of their third round picks (77) and (94) to move into position to get Gilbert. They’ll still have both second round picks and a compensatory pick in the third round.