When the 49ers selected cornerback Keith Reaser out of Florida Atlantic in the fifth round it was the second of the eventual three players drafted still recovering from knee surgeries. At the time Reaser was drafted corners like EJ Gaines (Missouri), Loucheiz Purifoy (Florida), and Marcus Roberson (Florida) were still on the board so this pick was a bit puzzling. Particularly because thought Reaser would go undrafted.
Unfortunately, DraftBreakdown.com doesn't have any cut ups of Reaser and there isn't a ton of information out there on him; but what is, isn't great. It's hard to provide an accurate assessment on his potential with the limited amount of information so let's take a look at others are saying about him.
Arm Length: 30 ¾"
Hands: 9 ½"
Bench: 22 reps
40 time: clicked between 4.3 & 4.4 before injury.
NFL.com's Nolan Nawrocki's report on Reaser:
Has a solid build and showed strength at the combine, bench-pressing 225 pounds 22 times. Demonstrates nice balance and body control in his pedal -- turns his feet over rapidly and is comfortable in reverse. Confident in off-man coverage -- maintains good cushion and keeps receivers in front of him. Nice shadow and mirror in man coverage. Smooth-hipped. Good football intelligence. Understands run fits. Respected team leader.
Average agility and long speed. Lacks strength in run support and could stand to be more aggressive filling. Tackles low. Not explosive. Nonchalant football-playing demeanor. Does not play with confidence or trigger quickly to what he sees. Average ball skills.
Round 7-Priority free agent
Good-sized, smooth-moving, man-cover corner who showed the ability to mirror before a knee injury cut short his senior season. Mental toughness and determination will be put to the test, as he faces rehabilitation for a second surgery and an uphill battle to earn an NFL job.
CBSSports.com's report on Reaser is a bit more positive:
STRENGTHS: Good-sized cornerback who brings strength - 22 reps at 225 pounds at the Scouting Combine. Can play off coverage, keeping receivers in front of him with the instincts to break on the ball. Also solid in man coverage. Kickoff return experience.
WEAKNESSES: Durability concerns as he recovers from ACL surgery last fall and subsequent setback that required a second surgery in February. Lacks bulk and strength to be real factor in run support. Mediocre ball skills.
So why would the 49ers take a corner in the fifth round when many believed he wouldn't have been drafted at all? Well there are some things to like. The reported speed is rare for a corner with his length. Obviously Vic Fangio and Ed Donatell saw something they liked. They believe he's moldable and someone that can compete for a roster spot, most likely in 2015-16.
The good news is the 49ers don't NEED Reaser to play right away. He can take the time to fully recover, immerse himself in the playbook and film room, and provide the 49ers will quality depth next season.
At the very least, Reaser figures to be a candidate to contribute on special teams when he eventually works his way to full health. The 49ers put a premium on special teams and by all accounts Reaser would be a nice fit.
What if Reaser's injury actually helped him get drafted? Let's face it, in no way were the 49ers going to fit 13 players on the roster. Maybe they saw very little difference in the potential of the remaining corners on the board and Reaser. They could however, stash Reaser on the PUP and "redshirt" him. Sort of a win, win. No?
Either way, I wouldn't expect anything from Reaser this season. He'll be a name to watch this time next year.