The San Francisco 49ers head into the offseason likely in need of cornerback help, and Mocking the Draft has doubled down on Oklahoma State cornerback Justin Gilbert. Matthew Fairburn released their latest 2014 NFL mock draft for the site, and for the second consecutive mock, they have Gilbert to the 49ers.
The 49ers' secondary has become an issue. Drafting Eric Reid helped a bit, but the Niners need to add some youth on the boundary. Justin Gilbert has appeared much higher than this in some mock drafts, but he's still somewhat flawed in the finer points of playing cornerback. His size and speed will make him a first rounder, though.
Last week, Todd McShay and Mel Kiper released their own latest mocks, and they had Gilbert going No. 21 and No. 10, respectively. Matt and Dan know their stuff, so I don't think this suggestion of Gilbert down to 30 is entirely crazy, but the opinions seem to vary somewhat wildly on him. CBS Sports ranks him as their No. 2 corner, and No. 20 overall. ESPN ranks him as their No. 1 corner, and No. 11 overall.
It sounds like Gilbert's biggest negative is that he has some work to do to improve his overall technique. He's got solid size for the position, but as Matt pointed out, he's got some things to learn about the position. If he slid down and the 49ers grabbed him, it could be a fairly solid situation for him. Depending on how the team approaches free agency, they could be looking at Tramaine Brock and Chris Culliver as their starting corners, with a guy like Gilbert coming in for nickel duties. We don't know what will happen with Tarell Brown and Carlos Rogers, but there is a pretty good chance we'll see a solid amount of turnover. This opens the door for a rookie to step right in and make an impact.
It is also worth noting he did solid work as a kick returner in college. I don't know that the 49ers would look to Gilbert right away as a return option, but it provides one more option with him.