2014 Draft Sleepers Who'd Fit Perfectly with the 49ers
How do you define a draft sleeper? Some believe the term strictly describes a late-round prospect. In the case of this study, we'll be looking at sleepers in lieu of their draft projection. So, a prospect who is projected to go in any of the early rounds is fair game.
With the San Francisco 49ers having six picks in the top 100 selections of the 2014 NFL draft, we could see them dictate this draft rather easily. Of course, we could also see the front office taking a rather passive approach, as well.
The 49ers are in a great position to either move up or down in this draft. Many expect them to make a big jump up the draft board in the first round, but we could see general manager Trent Baalke take an alternative route in May.
Instead of climbing what is considered one of the deepest drafts in the last 10 years, we could see Baalke stock up on picks in 2015.
Additionally, don't be surprised if Baalke decides to draft for the future. We all know the 49ers needs at this point in the process, but things usually don't go as planned during the draft.
Let's get started.
Ra'Shede Hageman, DE/DT, Minnesota
Ra'Shede Hageman is considered the classic boom-or-bust prospect coming out of the University of Minnesota. I wouldn't be surprised if Hageman becomes the gem of the 2014 draft class, nor would I be shocked if he was out of the league in three years.
Hageman needs a team with an experienced coaching staff and proven talent. The 49ers provide both in abundance, which should make Santa Clara a perfect destination for Hageman.
In terms of athleticism, you won't find a prospect like Hageman. At 6'6", 310 pounds, Hageman's athleticism allows him to play all over the defensive line. Hageman can play the 0-technique and 5-technique in a 3-4 defense, while also having the versatility to line up as a 3-technique in a four-man front.
Initially, Hageman will likely play in nickel situations. Other teams would require more production from a first-round pick; however, for the 49ers, playing the waiting game falls right in their wheelhouse.
While I still believe his strengths outweigh his weaknesses, there are some concerns that could scare teams away. For starters, Hageman is a 24-year-old rookie.
Additionally, Hageman's tape isn't all that impressive. If you put on the tape, Hageman disappears far too often for a man boasting all the physical traits in the world.
Hageman was considered a first-round lock a few months ago, and while he has Day 1 potential, I believe he will fall in this draft. Expect some team to select Hageman somewhere in the second round.
Marcus Roberson, CB, Florida
Darqueze Dennard is still the top corner prospect on my board, but my favorite player in this draft is Marcus Roberson. Like Hageman, Roberson has all the physical tools to be a dominant player at the next level.
Roberson has excellent height and length for the position, which automatically puts him on the 49ers' radar. The 49ers desperately need another outside corner to play opposite Tramaine Brock.
At this point, the biggest question mark is his speed. Roberson ran a 4.61-second 40-yard dash at the NFL combine according to NFL.com, which is very concerning. The 40-yard dash is a useless tool more times than not, but for defensive backs, I don't completely disregard this measure.
Roberson plays much faster on tape than in shorts, so Baalke will have to trust what he sees on film. If he does, the 49ers should get a first-round talent somewhere in the third or fourth round.
Morgan Moses, OT, Virginia
Like Roberson and Hageman before him, the 6'6'' Morgan Moses is an athletic freak at his respective position. The 49ers don't have an overwhelming need along the offensive line, which makes this pick unlikely.
However, in terms of fit, Moses is the type of player Baalke covets.
At 6'6'', 314 pounds, Moses has excellent size and length to play both left and right tackle. Moses also has the versatility to shift inside to guard, if needed.
Some doubt his ability to be a top-notch run-blocker at the next level, but with the physical tools he posses, good coaching is all this guy needs. Moses needs to work on his technique, as well.
He is a combination of both Anthony Davis and Ryan Clady. Between the two, Moses reminds me more of Clady because of his potential as a pass-blocker.
Moses could definitely find himself in the first round, but don't be surprised if he slips into Day 2 of the 2014 draft.
Terrence Brooks, S, Florida State
With two second-round selections and three third-round selections, the 49ers will be looking for athletic players like Terrence Brooks. Even with the Antoine Bethea signing, the 49ers will likely be looking for a young prospect to groom.
On tape, Brooks reminds me of New Orleans Saints safety Jairus Byrd. With Eric Reid occupying the free safety position, why would the 49ers draft a player who plays the same position?
Well, in Vic Fangio's defense, the safety position is interchangeable. In today's NFL, you need safeties who can both cover and hit. With Reid and Brooks, Fangio could have a fearsome combination at safety for years to come.
Brooks can cover tight ends and slot receivers, while also providing the physicality to win near the line of scrimmage as a prototypical box safety. He does need some work with his technique when tackling, but good coaching should help him in this area.
The safety position isn't that strong in this draft, so Brooks could be overvalued heading into the draft. As a third- or fourth-round selection, Brooks would be a great addition to this 49ers squad.
Phillip Gaines, CB, Rice
Phillip Gaines is another athletic prospect who could hear his name being called early in the 2014 NFL draft. If you want a sleeper pick who could turn heads, Gaines is a prospect to watch.
At 6'0'', 193 pounds, Gaines has the speed, height and length that teams covet at the cornerback position. His tape is a little inconsistent, but in the right scheme, Gaines can instantly compete for a starting gig at the next level.
While he has more experience in zone coverage, Gaines does have the body type and physical intangibles to play press man coverage. With his speed and length, he should also have no trouble defending bigger receivers.
Gaines has issues in run support, but that's more about technique. On tape, he tends to take really poor angles when coming in to wrap up ball-carriers. Again, this issue can be resolved with good coaching.
If the 49ers fail in landing either Dennard or another top corner prospect, snagging Gaines in the second or third round would be a solid consolation prize.