No. 3: Elijah Riley, Cornerback, Army
Consider this as a sort of vanity pick on the part of this writer, as Elijah Riley makes this not off the back of the Shrine Bowl, but more as an intriguing prospect in the later rounds of the draft.
If the name is familiar, that’s because you would have read it among the players the 49ers met with on the opening slide. The really interesting thing is his production at Army.
During his senior year, Riley had three interceptions, four sacks, and eight tackles for loss. Those last two stats are especially surprising from a defensive back.
Riley had seven interceptions overall during his collegiate career, along with 6.5 sacks and 17.5 tackles for loss. He played well in losses to Oklahoma and Michigan over the last two years, and has a good frame at 6-foot-1 and 200 pounds.
That enables him to both play against the run and match up with tight ends in coverage.
Given his ability to cover multiple kinds of receiver, as well as his blitzing talent, Riley projects as a nickel corner in my eyes. The 49ers are set for nickel defenders, but with the defense often playing with five defensive backs, there’s room for another player in the secondary.
Where better to find that player than in via the draft?
Riley is a very interesting prospect, and one I who feel the 49ers can make use of.