49ers should consider a cornerback at No. 31 in the 2020 NFL Draft

49ers (Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images)
49ers (Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images) /

There’s no exact science to drafting, and with only two picks in the first four rounds of the 2020 NFL Draft, the San Francisco 49ers need to make them count. If given the chance, their best bet is taking a cornerback at pick No. 31.

Whether your team is picking No. 1 overall in the NFL Draft, or you have the 31st pick — like the San Francisco 49ers — it often feels like your team’s scouting department is bunkered up in the war room, waiting for the night of April 23rd with a dart in their hand, and looking at a board filled with faces of Mel Kiper’s first-round draft prospects.

While yes, if there’s anything certain about draft night, it is that nothing is certain (outside of maybe Roger Goodell being booed). But, I think it’s worthwhile to look at who the 49ers may have the chance to grab, and should definitely take with the 31st pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.

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The 49ers are sitting in a weird position for this year’s draft with two picks in the first round — 13, by way of the DeForest Buckner trade, and 31 —  but then, not another pick until Round 5. This means that the margin for error in blowing it on an early-round pick needs to be slim.

Many are suggesting that the 49ers will pluck one of the number of pro-ready WR’s that should be available in the mid-first round with their first pick, however, pick No. 31 is a little more undetermined.

While it would seem fitting to want to replace Buckner with another defensive tackle, shoring up that first-round defensive line again, their depth at the position makes it more practical to look elsewhere.

Perhaps a cornerback? A talented student to learn under the brilliance of Richard Sherman?

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Sharing the backfield with the likes of the aforementioned veteran, Richard Sherman, former undrafted free-agent corner Emmanuel Moseley, and talented nickel corner K’Waun Williams, this prospect would be coming in as just that — a prospect.

With all three of these key backfield contributors under contract for at least another year, the player who did come in would have no pressure to line up in single man coverage right away, allowing them to learn and adjust to the speed and physicality that only the NFL possesses.

The 2020 NFL Draft’s elite class defensive back prospects such as Jeff Okudah, and C.J. Henderson will almost certainly be taken by pick 31, so, the more likely candidates are Kristian Fulton, former LSU Tiger, Trevon Diggs out of Alabama, and Clemson’s A.J. Terrell.

Fulton lined up against arguably some of the country’s best wide receivers during his senior year at LSU and showed that he has the length, hands, and ability to rotate and cover man-to-man against nearly any matchup.

Terrell is similarly athletic and has shown the ability to play elite press-man with not only speed in rotation, but cover, making him a prime prospect to match against the vertical offense.

However, while both Terrell and Fulton offer the ability to play effective man and versatile route coverage, Trevon Diggs is the most suitable defensive back prospect for the 49ers’ scheme.

Having transferred to a more physical 4-3 defense back in 2017 following the hire of defensive coordinator Robert Saleh, Diggs would fit in seamlessly, offering the 49ers a player that has elite athleticism and the physicality to match up with big NFL wide receivers.

Diggs’ aggressiveness and playmaking ability will make him a perfect addition to the 49ers in 2020, not only schematically, but culturally, as he exudes the toughness that has begun to define the current 49ers football team.

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Drafts are anything but an exact science, but let’s hope that the 49ers have some sort of formula on hand, because they really need to make these first two picks count.