The 2017 NFL Combine gets started in just under two weeks, and we are officially into the most prominent time of the year Mike Mayock. The NFL Media Draft analyst released his first round of position rankings on Tuesday. You can view them all, but I thought we would pull out some of the more pertinent positions.
The San Francisco 49ers did not get great seasons from their cornerbacks in 2016, but I saw some things that were impressive. Rashard Robinson appeared to emerge as a viable option. Tramaine Brock got burned badly in high profile situations, but he was generally strong, and got the toughest assignment on a regular basis. Jimmie Ward looked good for stretches, but missing five games does not help with concerns about his ability to say healthy. Meanwhile, Dontae Johnson slipped almost entirely out of the picture, while Keith Reaser saw a big jump.
With that all in mind, here is a look at Mayock’s top five cornerbacks.
1. Sidney Jones, Washington
2. Marshon Lattimore, Ohio State
3. Marlon Humphrey, Alabama
4. Teez Tabor, Florida
5. Tre'Davious White, LSU
The 49ers have more pressing needs than cornerback, but if they think there is a true shutdown corner in this group, would a high pick on the position make sense? Daniel Jeremiah recently mocked Lattimore to the 49ers at No. 2. In six mock drafts (Mel Kiper, Todd McShay, four NFL.com mocks), Lattimore has been going in the top five or six picks, and Jones has been going in the 10-15 range. McShay will release at least two more versions of his rankings, so the top of it could very well change.
Where does cornerback make sense? If the 49ers don’t see a lockdown option to take early, do they wait for day three sleepers to add into the mix? And of course, with the 49ers making a switch to a Seahawks style defense, do they move Jimmie Ward into a safety role? The cornerback need is in a bit of flux given all the questions surrounding the team.