The San Francisco 49ers could stand for both some short- and long-term needs at cornerback in the 2020 NFL Draft, and Louisiana Tech’s Amik Robertson is a nice mid-round choice.
Cornerback might be a top priority for the San Francisco 49ers in the 2020 NFL Draft.
On the surface, the idea would be finding a top-tier option to start on the boundary opposite Richard Sherman, which makes sense. Cornerbacks Emmanuel Moseley and Ahkello Witherspoon are the primary competitors at that spot, although an upgrade would be nice.
But there’s a number of long-term needs, particularly after this season.
Sherman, Witherspoon and nickel cornerback K’Waun Williams are all entering contract years in 2020. And while it wouldn’t be a shock to see the Niners re-sign one or more of these pending free agents, there’s also a strong possibility general manager John Lynch looks to the draft to supplement the upcoming needs with younger, cheaper options in the NFL Draft.
Nickel cornerbacks rarely make anything close to what boundary corners get on top-tier markets. And after two productive years in San Francisco, the 28-year-old Williams is still likely to get a good amount of money.
If the 49ers are looking to make a long-term change, they could do worse than target Louisiana Tech cornerback Amik Robertson.
Robertson, 5-foot-8 and 187 pounds, has your slot-type cornerback body. And while it’s easy to assume he’s only equipped to do this, Louisiana Tech didn’t hesitate to play him on the boundary, where he became something of a ballhawk over the last three years:
The number of interceptions and pass breakups point to one element to Robertson’s game: scrappiness.
Robertson, just like Williams, plays bigger than his size. And while it’s going to be a challenge for Robertson to adequately make that adjustment against bigger, stronger NFL-level receivers, the overall package the defensive back showcases suggests he’ll be able to handle this challenge well enough.
Just ask The Draft Network’s Dan Marino:
Fearless competitor that brings the fight regardless of who he is matched up against. He makes your run defense better with his physical style and quick trigger to aggressively attack. Does well to anticipate in coverage and make impact plays on the football as evidenced by his outstanding ball production – 14 interceptions, 34 pass break ups. Savvy in his ability to find the football and remain in correct coverage positioning. There isn’t a point in coverage as routes develop where he is willing to concede anything and he will aggressively crowd receivers. Has outstanding short area burst. Tremendous hitting power and contact balance for his size.
And Bleacher Report’s Connor Rogers also touted Robertson’s physicality in this video clip, too.
Now, there are two elements remaining in question here. First, it’s whether or not the 49ers are considering moving on from their current backup nickel corner, D.J. Reed. Reed has flashed some promise in limited action the last two years and is still on his rookie contract.
Yet there’s an argument Robertson would be a serious upgrade over Reed.
Then, one has to wonder just where Robertson would go in the NFL Draft. Robertson’s lack of size will probably drop him down into being selected no earlier than Round 3, probably in Round 4.
San Francisco currently doesn’t have a pick in either round, having traded them off for wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders last year. But if Lynch trades out from one of his two first-round selections, netting a day-three pick, Robertson would be an excellent target with plenty of upside.
The 2020 NFL Draft kicks off on Thursday, April 23.