In a prior article, the strategy suggested was for general manager Trent Baalke to trade up in the draft and select Michigan State cornerback Darqueze Dennard.
Cornerback is a glaring need for the 49ers, as they have only one defensive back, Tramaine Brock, who can be considered a surefire starting corner.
If the 49ers opt to stay with their selection, the 30th overall pick, their choice should be cornerback Bradley Roby out of Ohio State. At 5'11" and 194 pounds, Roby is not the prototypical cornerback, as he is just a touch small. However, his athleticism and physicality will more than make up for his slight lack of stature.
At this point in the draft, Dennard and Justin Gilbert, the top two cornerbacks, will most likely be gone. However, there could be three fine cornerback prospects available when the 49ers' turn comes up.
Roby is entering the draft as a junior and did not have a particularly good collegiate season. A couple of reasons may have been distractions caused by some off-field problems and the scheme the Ohio State defense utilized, which involved more zone coverage.
CBSSports.com reports Roby, who has outstanding speed, ran a 4.39 40-yard dash at the scouting combine. Roby plays with an aggressive mentality and has the skills to be excellent in tight man-to-man coverage.
Charlie Campbell of WalterFootball.com reports: "Roby needs to improve his game. He gets burned by double moves too often. His eye discipline also must get better."
Campbell also reports that "Roby has a first-round skill set."
The other two top cornerback prospects who merit a look are Kyle Fuller of Virginia Tech and Jason Verrett of TCU.
Both are very good prospects, as is Roby, but they also have some drawbacks. Fuller has played mostly zone in college, while the 49ers play more of a one-on-one scheme. Fuller also has a very lean frame, and there are questions about his durability.
There are also concerns about Verrett's size and durability. He has all the tools to play in the NFL, but he had a lot of injury issues in college.
The 49ers need a reliable cornerback who can step in and play right away. Roby gives them that potential and also has a big upside.
Although Roby is highlighted in this report above both Fuller and Verrett, the ideal scenario would be for the 49ers to move up in the draft and select Dennard.