Cody Latimer has been rocketing up draft boards this offseason.
The Indiana receiver was considered by many to be a borderline prospect at the beginning of the draft process—someone who could go in the sixth or seventh round and be a developmental prospect.
A phenomenal pro day, however, has teams turning their heads. According to Terez A. Paylor of The Sacramento Bee, Latimer put up a 4.39 40-yard dash and a 39-inch vertical leap at his pro day, and has since rocketed up the charts to be a borderline first-round selection.
He’s one of 30 prospects to be invited to the draft itself.
He had another individual workout on Friday, which brings his rise back around to the 49ers. After the workout, NFL.com's Gil Brandt reported that Latimer and San Francisco wide receivers coach John Morton spent over an hour going over the playbook.
.@49ers paid particular attention to Cody Latimer yesterday. WR coach John Morton spend 1.5 hrs w Latimer after workout going over playbook.— Gil Brandt (@Gil_Brandt) April 26, 2014
That’s more significant than just attending his workout—it could be a signal that the 49ers are considering taking Latimer with their first-round selection.
At 6’2”, 215 pounds, Latimer definitely has the sort of physique you’re looking for in a pro wide receiver. He’s tall, with a solid frame. His hand size and arm length are also above average. Combine that with his experience as a basketball star, and you have a big, talented player.
He has a very large catch radius too. With soft hands and good extension, Latimer is a nice, big target that doesn’t require pinpoint accuracy.
Get him the ball in space, and he’ll find a way to come down with it.
He’s willing to go over the middle as well as post up in the red zone, using his physicality to box out defenders and make room for himself in the end zone.
His speed at the pro day was a bit of a surprise. He doesn’t show that sort of explosiveness on game tape. His speed is purely a straight-line sort of thing—he’s not going to be pulling off a lot of double-moves or cuts to make multiple defenders miss when he has the ball.
If you’re sold on a receiver that puts up lots of yards after the catch, Latimer probably isn’t your guy.
The other red flag when it comes to Latimer is his health. The reason Latimer didn’t run at the combine was due to a left foot injury, which he struggled with through most of the 2013 season.
The fact that his pro day went as well as it did, however, helps alleviate some of those concerns.
Add it all together, and you have a tough, physical receiver who is willing to block and go over the middle. He still needs some polish, especially in his route-running skills, but he has the potential to be the next Keenan Allen—a big, physical receiver with great hands who isn’t afraid to initiate contact.
Of course, picking Latimer would run counter to Chris Mortensen (h/t Rotoworld's Evan Silva) reporting that the 49ers are looking to trade up.
Latimer is looking more and more like a good value at 30th overall in the draft, but he’s not one of the top five receivers available. If the 49ers are going to trade up, they’re not going to be doing so for Latimer.
Perhaps Latimer is a fallback plan. If the team can’t find a decent deal to go up, it could sit back and let Latimer, Marqise Lee or Kelvin Benjamin fall back into its slot.
Alternatively, it could be part of a double-move. The 49ers could conceivably trade from their current spot into the middle of the first round to pick a player like Oklahoma State cornerback Justin Gilbert and then trade back up to the end of the first to take Latimer.
One way or another, it seems the 49ers at least have Latimer well within their sights as a potential player to take in the first round of the draft.
We’ll find out in a few weeks whether the interest will amount to anything or if it’s just a standard predraft smoke screen.