49ers NFL Draft preview: Team with many needs could target top defenders
This item is part of a series on the positions the 49ers will look to fill in the upcoming draft and the players that are the best fits at those spots. Today's position:
Description: The Seattle Seahawks have selected five cornerbacks in the last five drafts. None has been taken before the fifth round and none has been under 6-feet tall. The Seahawks want longer, physical cornerbacks because A.) the best receivers in the league are tall and physical; the top two in the upcoming draft are 6-4 Mike Williams and 6-3 Corey Davis and B.) the Seahawks like to play a lot of press coverage and re-route receivers to the boundaries. That requires size and strength. Richard Sherman has become their prototype at the position. He's 6-3, plays press coverage exceptionally well and is smart and savvy when the Seahawks play zone.
Who's there now: One of the advantages the 49ers have -- and which other defenses that hired ex-Seahawks coaches did not -- is that they started to see the brilliance of the defense several years ago and tried to mimic it in some ways. For example, last year's fourth-round pick, Rashard Robinson, fits many of the parameters of a typical Seahawks cornerback, and he played well in his six starts as a rookie. With Tramaine Brock no longer on the squad (and with Jeff Hafley remaining as the team's defensive backs coach), Robinson is a frontrunner to win one of the starting roles this season. Other candidates include Dontae Johnson, who at 6-2, 200 also fits the prototype, and last year's third-round pick Will Redmond, who should be fully recovered from 2015's ACL tear.
Need level: 4.1
Perfect fit: This year's draft is absolutely teeming with big-bodied cornerbacks and the 49ers will work out two of them -- 6-3 Kevin King from Washington and 6-0 Chidobe Awuzie from Colorado -- this week. Two others, Ohio State's Marshon Lattimore (6-0) and Colorado's Ahkello Witherspoon (6-3) already have visited the team. Others: Quincy Wilson, Florida; Rasul Douglas, West Virginia; Cordrea Tankersley, Clemson.