Long before the Seattle Seahawks had success with big cornerbacks, Bill Walsh found his ideal cornerbacks in the draft than 30 years ago.
Walsh loved cornerbacks with size. And he often considered Eric Wright (6 foot 1) as the prototype. The 49ers, of course, selected Ronnie Lott (6 foot) in the first round of the 1981 NFL Draft before grabbing Wright in Round 2. (Lott spent the first four seasons of his Hall of Fame career at cornerback before shifting to safety.)
Love him or hate him – and there’s probably not need to identify your level of affection (or lack thereof) on a site that specializes in 49ers conversation – the new ideal cornerback in the NFL is Seattle’s Richard Sherman.
The 49ers figure to be in the market for a cornerback during the May 8-10 draft. So which draft-eligible player most favorably compares with Sherman?
The cornerback in the draft who rates the closest is Nebraska’s Stanley Jean-Baptiste. Like Sherman, Jean-Baptiste entered college as a wide receiver before moving to the defensive side.
Sherman was 6 foot 2 ½, 195 pounds when he attended the NFL Scouting Combine in 2011. Jean-Baptiste stands 6-2 ½, 218 pounds.
Sherman ran the 40-yard dash in 4.54 seconds; Jean-Baptiste checked in with a respectable 4.61. Sherman had 16 repetitions of 225 pounds, while Jean-Baptiste lifted the weight 13 times. Sherman’s vertical leap was 38 inches. Jean-Baptiste jumped an amazing 41 ½ inches.
[RELATED: NFL Scouting Combine: Winners & losers]
Sherman, of course, was a fifth-round draft pick. Jean-Baptiste figures to benefit from Sherman’s success, and his workout Tuesday in Indianapolis did not hurt his stock. He is expected to be a second- or third-round draft pick. There is some question whether Jean-Baptiste will ultimately fit better at cornerback or safety. But any team that grabs him with almost assuredly first give him a long look at cornerback.
The 49ers have a scheduled five draft picks within the first 94 selections in the draft.
49ERS 2014 DRAFT PICKS
1. First round: Own pick, No. 30 overall
2. Second round: Kansas City pick in 2013 Alex Smith trade, No. 56 overall
3. Second round: Own pick, No. 61 overall
4. Third round: Tennessee pick in 2013 draft day trade, No. 77 overall
5. Third round: Own pick, No. 94 overall
6. Fourth round: Own pick, TBA
7. *Fourth round (or third round): Compensatory, TBA
8. Fifth round: Own pick, TBA
9. Sixth round: Own pick, TBA
10. Seventh round: New Orleans pick from Parys Haralson trade, TBA
11. Seventh round: Carolina pick from 2012 Colin Jones trade, TBA
12. Seventh round: Own pick, TBA
* The 49ers are in position to gain at least one compensatory pick due to a net loss of qualifying 2013 free agents. The pick, resulting from Dashon Goldson's departure, is expected to be a third- or fourth round selection.