As you probably heard, San Francisco 49ers GM Trent Baalke recently had dinner with former Clemson CB Bashaud Breeland after the latter had his pro-day. Depending on how closely you follow the draft process, you might not have heard of Breeland prior to this. No matter, now you have, so let's take a closer look.
I've only watched the four games available on Draft Breakdown, which I don't think is enough to fully judge a player, especially a DB, due to the lack of coaches' film angles. We simply can't see what went on during many of the plays unless they were replayed on the broadcast. Nonetheless, here are my thoughts on Breeland from what I have seen.
His arms and body appear to be much longer on film, which had some wondering if he was well over 6' and had super long levers. He's not quite that tall, but has good length at damn-near 6' (5' 11 3/8") and good bulk at 193 lbs. Arm length is a bit shorter than you might expect at 31 3/4". Nevertheless he looks and plays long on the field, if that makes sense.
When you watch Breeland you'll instantly see his press coverage technique is among his best assets. He uses his hand to disrupt/redirect, then turns and mirrors down the sideline nicely. He's a very physical corner, not only in the passing game, but he's not afraid to mix it up in the run game, where he can be seen coming off the edge on run blitzes as well as sticking his nose into the middle.
He also has good ball skills when he reads the throw/knows it's coming and is in position. He get's his hands on the football via deflections and/or interceptions with frequency.
Breeland plays gunner on the punt team, too, which will boost his value to the 49ers, who love having guys who can pull double duty.
He's so comfortable playing press down the sideline that by comparison he doesn't look quite as good on in-breaking routes. He can be slow to plant and drive on throws in front of him at times, too. The physicality mentioned above can get him into trouble when he's early with his hands while the ball is in the air, leading to DPI calls (some were called, some went un-called in the games available).
While he's aggressive in the run game, he could stand to do a better job shedding blocks, and he's somewhat of a catch-and-drag tackler in the open field. That is to say he tends to let the ball carrier come to him then drag him down, rather than driving through the man.
He doesn't catch every ball in his vicinity, either, though I wouldn't say he has awful hands for a CB.
Breeland would excel in a Cover-3 or Cover-4 scheme where he can use his press skills to cover routes down the sideline area and make plays on the ball. I wouldn't say he can't play zone or off-man coverage, it's just not his strength at this point, but there wasn't anything glaring that scared me off, either.
I can see why the 49ers would like an aggressive player who attacks the run, is physical with receivers, and plays special teams. My guess is he'd be a solid second round candidate, perhaps slipping into the third, but the team may not want to take that chance. I know some have Breeland as one of their top-five CBs, citing his tools and ability to be molded by a good secondary coach.
At any rate I can see him being very successful at the next level, even if he has some initial growing pains adjusting to mixed coverages, depending on where he lands.