The 2013 NFL Draft was a very good one for the San Francisco 49ers. I approved of all the picks, but I was a bit surprised by no cornerback being drafted until the seventh round. Trent Baalke and company must have felt content with the group of corners that they already have, feeling they didn't need to use an earlier pick on the position.
Enter Rutgers CB Marcus Cooper, a seventh round selection, pick No. 252. Could Cooper really crack the 53 man roster? The odds are high that he doesn't, but never say never. More than likely, Cooper will land on the practice squad, giving him more time to develop and fine tune his skills.
40 Yard Dash: 4.45
Bench Reps: 20
3 Cone: 6.89
Do Your Homework - Watch Cooper's pro day and 2013 highlights
- Height/Speed combination: Being 6'2 and able to run a sub 4.5 forty are great assets. Any team can use a guy that can battle against the speedy tall receivers in the NFL.
- Special teams experience: Cooper defended punt returns and field goals (blocking two in the video). This is a nice added bonus to a player vying for at least a spot on the practice squad.
- Physical: Cooper doesn't mind playing press coverage and putting his hands on a receiver. He's willing to physically engage who he's covering. Cooper will have to improve on off coverage and zone coverage, but the 49ers clearly loved the physicality that Cooper possesses.
- Hard hitting: Cooper can hit exceptionally hard for a corner at times. Although he still needs to improve on tackling, being able to lay the wood is a nice bonus at the cornerback position.
- Ball skills: Only one interception last season and three passes broken up. He'll have to improve in this area if he wants to find success in the NFL, and with his height there's no reason why he can't improve his ball skills.
- Tackling: Cooper can hit hard, but he isn't the most fundamentally sound tackler. He will go too high instead of squaring a player up more often than not. What will help Cooper is being around the best tackling team in the NFL. His fundamentally sound teammates will be able to show him how you should tackle.
- Lack of experience at the position: Has only played cornerback since 2010, was a wide receiver prior to that.
What they are saying
Taylor Price (@TaylorPrice49) June 4, 2013
Trent Baalke gave Cooper some kudos after the draft:
"A guy that has the traits you're looking for," general manager Trent Baalke said of Cooper after the draft. "You bring him in and hopefully he can develop."
I agree with Baalke, Cooper does have some traits you're looking for in a corner. However, they need to be developed before he can be considered ready to play in the NFL. Cooper fell into the lap of a team that can teach him how to become better at his craft. Defensive backs coach Ed Donatell will guide him along, as well as the 49ers veteran cornerbacks. Cooper appears to have a good attitude and a will to succeed. Let's hope we see him shutting down elite receivers as soon as 2014.