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San Francisco 49ers: Scouting Combine Tracker for 49ers' Potential Targets

R. Cory SmithSenior Writer IFebruary 20, 2014

San Francisco 49ers: Scouting Combine Tracker for 49ers' Potential Targets

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    Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sport

    The San Francisco 49ers went 12-4 last season and made it all the way to the NFC Championship Game just a year after making the Super Bowl.

    Needless to say, this isn't a team with a lot of needs at key positions. But with 12 overall picks in the 2014 NFL draft, this is an already loaded roster that has a lot of picks to play with to improve even further.

    At the NFL Scouting Combine, the players are evaluated in a multitude of ways. Whether teams put stock in the speed of players in the 40-yard dash, their strength in the bench-press exercise or drool over their vertical leap results, scouts and coaches get to see everything they want from the best in college football.

    While the 49ers have a good core group of players that can easily get the franchise back to the playoffs and contend for a Super Bowl, there will be several players on their radar to bolster the roster.

    Here's a look at many of those athletes at key positions of need as well as a list of their combine results when they become available.

     

    Note: All height and weight information courtesy of CBS Sports. Round info based on assorted media outlets and personal projections. Height and weight will be updated when available at the combine. Drills results courtesy of NFL.com.

Priority No. 1: Cornerback

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    With one of the best defenses in the NFL, the 49ers already appear to be stacked on this side of the ball. But with the potential to add a top cornerback in this year's draft late in the first round or in the middle rounds, San Francisco could get a shutdown corner to help in another run toward a Super Bowl.

    Several players stand out in this year's class, but the prospect of adding either Justin Gilbert or Jason Verrett in the first round might be too intriguing to shy away from.

    But if either player is already taken by the time the 49ers go on the clock, several top corners will remain on the board and could be huge assets in their rookie seasons.

    Here is a look at the top options at the corner position that the Niners will have their eyes on throughout the combine. 

    NamePos.SchoolProj. RoundHeightWeight
    Justin GilbertCBOklahoma State16'0"195
    Jason Verrett CBTCU15'10"176
    Marcus RobersonCBFlorida1-25'11"180
    Bradley RobyCBOhio State25'10"190
    Kyle FullerCBVirginia Tech25'11"189
    Stanley Jean-BaptisteCBNebraska36'2"215
    Terrance MitchellCBOregon35'11"190
    E.J. GainesCBMissouri35'10"193
    Ross Cockrell CBDuke45'11"189
    Bennett JacksonCBNotre Dame56'0"187

     

    There are several directions the Niners could go when looking at adding a quality corner, but the first-round options are both great players who could make an immediate impact.

    Both Gilbert and Verrett are corners who can play man and take on a No. 1 receiver in the next two to three years.

    Verrett has wowed scouts with his physicality and change of direction in the past few seasons with TCU, but plans to show another huge asset at the combine, according to College Football 24/7:

    #TCU CB Jason Verrett ready to "shock" teams with his speed at combine. http://t.co/KN3XHAYlaN

    — CollegeFootball 24/7 (@NFL_CFB) February 19, 2014

    If the Niners choose to target a corner later than Round 1, Florida's Marcus Roberson, Bradley Roby out of Ohio State and Kyle Fuller from Virginia Tech each have the frame for the position and have proven their worth over the years.

    Another corner that's been getting a lot of hype as of late is Stanley Jean-Baptiste out of Nebraska. Some see him as a safety, some view him as a corner. Some see him as a second-rounder, some view him as a third-round pick.

    Thanks to his early measurables, the huge defensive back has drawn comparisons to arguably one of the best corners in the game and a Niners favorite in Richard Sherman, per Gil Brandt of NFL.com:

    Jean-Baptiste has rare size (6-foot-2 3/8, 215); he looks like a clone of Richard Sherman. [...] Has very long arms (78 3/8 wingspan) and is a willing tackler. Looks fast in coverage and has quickness. If he looks like he can cover in man drills this week, he might move up into my top 100. Smart player who entered 2013 with his degree already in hand.

    In the later rounds, both Terrance Mitchell and E.J. Gaines are strong corners who would fit in nicely in the gritty NFC West for San Francisco. Then there's Ross Cockrell and Bennett Jackson, two experienced defensive backs who played a huge role for Duke's and Notre Dame's resurgences, respectively.

    Any of these players would blend in perfectly with the style of play that the Niners boast on defense, but it simply depends on how many corners San Francisco decides to take and in what round it takes them.

    Name40-yd DashBenchVert. JumpBroad Jump3-Cone Drill20-yd Shuttle60-yd Shuttle
    Gilbert 4.37 20 35.5 126   
    Verrett 4.38  39 128   
    Roberson 4.61 8 37.5 120   
    Roby 4.39 17 38.5 124   
    Fuller 4.49 12 38.5 128   
    Jean-Baptiste 4.61 13 41.5 128   
    Mitchell 4.63  34 117   
    Gaines 4.38 11 36.5 122   
    Cockrell 4.56 10 36.5 122   
    Jackson 4.51 13 38 128   

Priority No. 2: Wide Receiver

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    When talking about positions that go extremely deep in the 2014 NFL draft, the wide receiver class should be one of the first on the list.

    But with a late pick in the first round, the 49ers will likely miss out on a few of the top receivers in the class like Sammy Watkins, Marqise Lee and even Mike Evans.

    If any of those players are left and San Francisco can't get the defensive back it wants, a player like Kelvin Benjamin or Brandin Cooks would fit in perfectly.

    While the 49ers might be working out a deal with Anquan Boldin, according to Matt Maiocco of CSN Bay Area, there will still be a need in years to come. Therefore, a late first-round or second-round receiver getting a chance to learn from Boldin in his first year wouldn't be a bad situation.

    NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said this might be one of the best years to get a receiver, per Maiocco:

    It's the best wide receiver draft I've seen in years.

    [...] This is the deepest and best draft class I've seen in probably 10 years. That's been reinforced by most of the general managers and scouts I've talked to throughout the league. I had one GM tell me the other day that having a Top 20 pick this year is very similar to having a Top 10 pick last year.

    Here is a look at a few of the options that the 49ers will likely have on the board in several rounds to add to their depth at wideout.

     

    NamePos.SchoolProj. RoundHeightWeight
    Kelvin BenjaminWRFlorida State16'5"240
    Allen RobinsonWRPenn State1-26'2"220
    Brandin CooksWROregon State1-25'10"189
    Jordan MatthewsWRVanderbilt26'3"212
    Jarvis LandryWRLSU25'11"205
    Martavis BryantWRClemson36'4"211
    Robert Herron WRWyoming35'9"193
    Devin StreetWRPittsburgh46'3"198
    Cody Latimer WRIndiana56'2"215

     

    As previously mentioned, much of the top talent in the draft likely won't be available late in the first round, but getting a player like Kelvin Benjamin with the 30th pick could be huge.

    Players like Allen Robinson and Jordan Matthews are also intriguing options that the 49ers could pick up in the second round. Both project at nearly the same height, but have proven to be hard-working and extremely athletic receivers.

    In fact, Matthews made a big name for himself in the weeks leading up to the Senior Bowl when he asked for film on cornerbacks that would be participating, according to Matt Miller of Bleacher Report:

    With so many kids dropping out of Sr. Bowl, sure makes you appreciate Jordan Matthews--who contacted them for film on all the CBs.

    — Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) January 17, 2014

    Along with the top prospects, Martavis Bryant and Devin Street also offer the size that San Francisco might need to replace a player like Boldin in the future. Though Cody Latimer and Jarvis Landry don't add quite the same size, they both have speed and reliable hands that can help Colin Kaepernick.

    If the Niners choose to move forward with a different type of wideout, Brandin Cooks is a great threat out of Oregon State along with Robert Herron. Either one could be inserted in the slot to give Kaepernick another threat across the middle on third-down situations.

    Name40-yd DashBenchVert. JumpBroad Jump3-Cone Drill20-yd Shuttle60-yd Shuttle
    Benjamin4.611332.5119    
    Robinson4.60  39*127*    
    Cooks4.33*1636120   
    Matthews4.46 2135.5120    
    Landry4.77 12 28.5 110    
    Bryant4.42 1639*124    
    Herron4.48 1835.5 125   
    Street4.55  37 124    
    Latimer 23*     

    The Niners would be wise to keep an eye on Cooks, who had one of the fastest 40-yard dash times of all performers at the scouting combine. 

    The Beavers product blitzed through that event and also put on great performances in the vertical and broad jump drills. His 16 reps of 225 pounds on the bench proved he has a lot of strength packed inn his 5'10", 189-pound frame. 

    Other options worth exploring after the combine are Robinson, who showed he's an incredible leaper, and Matthews, a freakish athlete that could add another dimension to the San Francisco offense.

    Landry might be a prospect to stay away from, as he was one of the worst wide outs (in terms of athleticism) to make an appearance at Lucas Oil stadium.

Priority No. 3: Safety

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    It's not one of the deepest or even one of the most coveted positions in this year's draft, but adding a safety is another necessity for the 49ers.

    While taking one in the first round doesn't appear likely with their needs at both corner and receiver, San Francisco will have several options to get the guy it wants in the second or even middle rounds of the draft.

    Jimmie Ward and Deone Bucannon look like the best options to take early on in the draft, but several gems will be scattered throughout the middle of the selection process to add depth at the position of need.

    Here is a look at some of the players that the 49ers will keep an eye on throughout the combine and leading up to draft day.

    NamePos.SchoolProj. RoundHeightWeight
    Jimmie WardSSNorthern Illinois1-25'10"191
    Deone Bucannon SSWashington State26'1"216
    Craig Loston SSLSU36'0"214
    Ahmad DixonSSBaylor3-45'11"205
    Vinnie Sunseri SSAlabama55'11"210
    Isaiah LewisSSMichigan State5-65'10"200
    Alden DarbySSArizona State65'10"192
    Hakeem SmithSSLouisville6-76'0"186
    Sean ParkerSSWashington75'10"193

    As previously mentioned, the depth in strong safeties isn't quite as strong as other positions for the 49ers. But with good players in the middle rounds and three possibilities in the early rounds, including Craig Loston, San Francisco might have a great player for years to come with a second-rounder.

    The middle of the draft brings players like Ahmad Dixon and Vinnie Sunseri, two players who have grown accustomed to hitting hard with Baylor and Alabama, respectively. Both could add depth before ultimately competing for a starting role.

    As for the later rounds, several options like Isaiah Lewis of Michigan State and Alden Darby of Arizona State can already hold their own in the backfield, but might need time to develop on the NFL stage.

     

    Name40-yd DashBenchVert. JumpBroad Jump3-Cone Drill20-yd Shuttle60-yd Shuttle
    Ward  9     
    Bucannon 4.49 19 36.5 125   
    Loston 4.65 12 32.5 119   
    Dixon 4.64      
    Sunseri  18     
    Lewis 4.60 15 36.5 122   
    Darby       
    Smith       
    Parker       

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