This will be the final installment of a series that took a look at the 49ers 2011 draft picks and how they project to the NFL.
Today, I will be looking at former Florida A&M standout, Curtis Holcomb. In doing so, I will analyze a couple different scouting reports and give you my take on what Holcomb can bring to the 49ers; if anything.
College career: Played 45 games in his career and recorded 12 interceptions. He ran a 4.47 in the 40 during his pro day.
Scouting report: He has a lot of experience, as a four-year player in college but needs to work in his technique against the better competition he'll face in an NFL training camp.
How he fits with 49ers: He'll be competing for a roster spot in the 49ers' secondary -- much like seventh-round pick Phillip Adams a year ago
Throughout all the "mini" reports that I read on Holcomb what was written above continued to be a theme. He has the experience and skill set to play at the next level, but needs to refined his technique. Playing against lesser competition in the MEAC, Holcomb really never had to worry much about technique. Instead, he was able to rely on his physical ability against lesser receivers. Obviously, this will not be the case once/if he makes the 49ers roster.
Experience does work in Holcomb's favor, as he did play in 45 career college games; starting most of them. The comparison to Phillip Adams, who played at South Carolina State, is a favorable one for Holcomb; as they both are extremely physical and athletically talented players, but extremely raw in their abilities.
Positives: Cover corner with good ball skills, will make quarterbacks pay when staring down his receiver on short throws by making the pick. Sticks with nose in against the run, whether on the edge or even in the hole when uncovered outside. Good hips for press-bail, strong off-coverage presence who will close quickly on balls thrown into his area. Quick feet to adjust to routes when receiver is in front of him.
Negatives: Shorter than scouts prefer at the position, best chance to succeed when plays are in front of him. Lacks great functional strength, receivers can dominate him in the run game, though he does give effort to hustle to the play. Fails to recognize routes, lacks recovery speed on double-moves or the length to get back into plays if he's a step behind. Probably has a nickel-back ceiling at the next level due to size.
The 49ers really need a "cover corner with good ball skills", but as a player projected to be an undrafted free agent, I am not sold on the idea that Holcomb is their man for that. Watching a little, and I mean little, tape on Holcomb, one thing jumped out to me; and it was addressed in CBS Sports Line scouting report. I loved the way he played off-coverage, utilizing his athletic skills to close on the balls. More often than not, I saw Holcomb play real good press coverage, but read the route more than the ball; that is a solid attribute to possess when you have good on ball skills.
If his ceiling is a "nickel back", the 49ers got a steal in Holcomb as a compensatory 7th round selection. Nickel backs are usually brought in the game in passing situations, so that would mask his lack of ability against the run.
"Length to get back into plays when a step behind"? Do they mean speed? Because Holcomb ran an extremely fast 40 yard dash at A&Ms pro day. If they mean length, I have no idea what the parallels are between that and not being able to catch up to the receiver.
Synopsis: Holcomb may struggle to make the 49ers 53 man roster. In fact, I hope he doesn't. This would mean that San Francisco was able to bring in a top tier free agent and retain Nate Clements services at a reduced price. We really don't need three "project" type corners on our roster. The jury is obviously still out on Chris Culliver and we have no idea how Phillip Adams is going to respond to his devastating 2010 injury.
If Holcomb does make the roster, I hope it is as a special teamer. You can never have enough athletically gifted and fast special teams players. He could act as a gunner on the outside and help to slow down other teams return games.
I do believe that Holcomb does have a lot of talent and with the right coaching could end up actually contributing in the regular corner rotation for the 49ers moving forward. I just think that his future with the team is more down the lane than in 2011.