Will the 49ers select more redshirt players in this draft? It’s certainly possible.
Last year, the Niners drafted two highly touted prospects, running back Marcus Lattimore and defensive lineman Tank Carradine, despite the fact each had suffered an injury in his final college season and would be unavailable to play in 2013.
Lattimore and Carradine are healthy and fit now after sitting out a season, and could be big contributors in 2014.
Now the 49ers – with a still-deep roster and 11 picks – might consider doing the same thing again in the draft that begins May 8.
The 49ers have former Oklahoma cornerback Aaron Colvin in for a visit this week. Colvin tore his ACL in January during a practice for the Senior Bowl, and isn’t expected to be able to play in 2014. He had surgery in January and has been rehabbing in Florida, according to Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee.
Colvin, who is 5-foot-11 and 177 pounds, has long arms – a favorite trait of 49ers GM Trent Baalke – and is reported to be a physical cornerback who is good in coverage and run support. He had 33 career starts for the Sooners, for whom he twice received all-Big 12 honors. The knock on Colvin is a lack of burner-type speed, but he’s a solid pro prospect who could be a late-round pick by a team willing to wait on him to get healthy. San Francisco certainly fits that description.
“Adding injured players to a loaded roster has become a draft strategy for the 49ers,” wrote Barrows this week. “They are able to obtain a player in a lower round because he is injured and perhaps allow him to ‘redshirt’ his initial years with the team.”
In addition to Colvin, Barrows notes there are several other players available in the draft with ACL injuries who could be redshirt candidates for the 49ers, including: guard Brandon Thomas of Clemson; Florida defensive lineman Dominique Easley; Virginia tech cornerback Antone Exum; Nebraska guard Spencer Long; quarterbacks Aaron Murray of Georgia and Zach Mettenberger of LSU; and safety Vinnie Sunseri of Alabama.
While Colvin is an attractive player, ESPN draft analyst Steve Muench said this week that he may be too much of a risk because of a history of past injuries – he missed all of the 2011 season with a shoulder injury – and the fact he’s dropped about 15 pounds since his season ended.
Still, Muench said Colvin is talented – and the secondary is an area of need for San Francisco. If the 49ers take him, it would be for long-term help. The team also needs immediate help as well – and could use its top overall pick on a cornerback, too.
“He’s got the tools to be an effective No. 3 corner,” Muench said of Colvin on ESPN.com this week. “He’d see the field a lot with how often teams line up with three or more receivers. He’s instinctive, he has above-average cover skills and he tackles well.”