The San Francisco 49ers kicked off their rookie minicamp with player arrivals on Thursday, and practice the rest of the week. With OTAs getting started in two weeks, now seems like a good time to start assessing what the 2016 NFL Draft means to the roster. We're going to run through each position on the depth chart and take a preliminary look at how the draft picks might impact it, as well as an initial thought on the bubble watch. Today, we move on to the cornerbacks.
Tramaine Brock, Dontae Johnson, Jimmie Ward (nickel back), Kenneth Acker, Keith Reaser, Will Redmond, Rashard Robinson, Marcus Cromartie, Chris Davis, Prince Charles Iworah
The San Francisco 49ers were plenty busy in adding cornerbacks during the 2016 NFL Draft. They spent third, fourth, and seventh round picks in adding Redmond, Robinson, and Iworah. There was a thought the team needed to add depth at the position, but I think many of us were caught off guard when they used two consecutive picks on the position.
In doing so, they added guys that had various question marks. Will Redmond tore his ACL last October, while Rashard Robinson has not played in a game in 18 months due to various off-field issues. They then added Iworah, who has a lot of raw tools, but needs to develop his cover skills.
The depth chart has a lot of players signed through the 2017 season. Brock, Johnson, Ward, Acker, and Reaser are all signed through 2017. Ward was a first round pick, so next year the team will need to decide whether or not to exercise his fifth year option. The team is reportedly looking to move him to safety. His option salary is based on the position at which he played the most snaps in year three. Right now that looks like cornerback, but we'll see if they get him into safety more than cornerback this year.
The big question will be who is starting. My guess is Brock and Johnson are starting Week 1, with Ward at nickel back. However, Redmond and Robinson could make this interesting at both nickel and outside. And even Reaser could work his way into the mix, although if he makes the roster, I see him spending more time on special teams.
Considering the team added Redmond and Robinson in the draft, it raises some questions for a lot of the young guys on the roster. Jimmie Ward will be on the roster. After that, the team is looking at guys like Brock, Johnson, Ward, Acker, Reaser, Redmond, and Robinson. I would be surprised if Cromartie, Davis, or Iworah made the roster.
From that initial group, who ends up getting released? The 49ers won't take any bad cap hits losing any of them, and at least one of them is likely getting released. Acker got a lot of starts last year, but Johnson seemed to eventually supplant him. Could Acker be the guy that gets cut? Maybe the veteran Brock? Somebody else?