The San Francisco 49ers enter training camp in two weeks with 11 players in their 2016 draft class, not including undrafted free agents. Each player enters camp with different expectations, and odds are pretty good expectations will have changed for some of them by the end of training camp.
With that in mind, I thought it would be fun to take a look at the best and worst case expectations for each player (players and links listed at the bottom). We’ll also try and come up with “realistic expectations,” but those extremes of best and worst will give us a framework heading into training camp. I want best and worst to be somewhat measured in realism, so we won’t have “gets cut” as the worst case scenario for every player. The same holds true for pie in the sky optimism.
Today, we’ll look at cornerback Rashard Robinson. The 49ers selected the LSU product in the fourth round with their first comp pick of the draft. He joins a depth chart that includes Tramaine Brock, Jimmie Ward, Dontae Johnson, Kenneth Acker, Keith Reaser, Chris Davis, Marcus Cromartie, Will Redmond, and Prince Charles Iworah.
Best case scenario
I suppose we could argue that he works his way into the base defense starting lineup, but I think a more realistic best case would be that he becomes the nickel back. Right now, Chris Davis and Keith Reaser have been working at the slot, with Dontae Johnson as the first outside cornerback off the bench. Kenneth Acker got starting time last year, and is likely in the mix. Robinson’s best case sees him surpassing all these guys, and claiming that first corner off the bench role. It could mean Ward goes inside to the slot in the nickel package, but we’ll see if Robinson gets any slot work in training camp.
I don’t know what it means stat-wise, other than to say he is playing starter-level snaps because the 49ers spend so much time in their sub packages. And off the field, it means he stays out of trouble after a college career that dealt with a failed drug test, academic issues, and an arrest for unauthorized entry into a teammates apartment.
Worst case scenario
Robinson has missed a year and a half of football due to various issues in college. In the worst case scenario, that absence is felt, and he is unable to climb up the depth chart. He gets some opportunities during the season, but ends up inactive a decent amount of the season. As far as the off-field issue, Robinson finds his way into trouble, whether it be a failed drug test, or some other problem.
I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt about the off-field issues for the time being. On the field, I could see him emerging as the third corner off the bench, depending on injury issues on the cornerback depth chart. I see him as dime back who gets work as part of a regular rotation in the secondary. If injuries happen, he would be one of the guys getting bumped into significant playing time.
1 (7). DeForest Buckner, DT, Oregon (best case/worst case)
1 (28). Joshua Garnett, OG, Stanford (best case/worst case)
3 (5). Will Redmond, CB, Mississippi State (best case/worst case)
4 (35). Rashard Robinson, CB, LSU (best case/worst case)
5 (3). Ronald Blair, DE, Appalachian State (best case/worst case)
5 (6). John Theus, OT, Georgia (best case/worst case)
5 (35). Fahn Cooper, OT, Ole Miss
6 (32). Jeff Driskel, QB, Louisiana Tech (best case/worst case)
6 (36). Kelvin Taylor, RB, Florida (best case/worst case)
6 (38). Aaron Burbridge, WR, Michigan State (best case/worst case)
7 (28). Prince Charles Iworah, CB, Western Kentucky