49ers NFL Draft: 3 first-round prospects who could fall into Round 2

Caleb Farley #3 of the Virginia Tech Hokies (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Caleb Farley #3 of the Virginia Tech Hokies (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /
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Caleb Farley, Virginia Tech Hokies
Virginia Tech Hokies defensive back Caleb Farley (3) Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports /

No. 2: Will Caleb Farley’s back surgery prompt a fall to 49ers in Round 2?

Through much of 2020 and early into 2021, Virginia Tech cornerback Caleb Farley was neck-and-neck in line with Alabama cornerback Patrick Surtain II to be the first player at the position to be selected in Round 1 of the draft.

Like Gregory Rousseau, Farley had only one true year of top-end production, 2019, and he also elected to sit out last year in preparation for the NFL Draft and amid the pandemic.

But before news broke about the 6-foot-2, 207-pound Farley had a recent back procedure, the lack of game tape from 2020 wasn’t a deterrent. He was still being viewed as an easy Round 1 selection, potentially going as early as the top 15.

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Yet that surgery is important. And as Pro Football Network’s Tony Pauline said wrote, it’s affecting Farley’s draft stock significantly:

"With a back injury, it can reoccur. And this late in the game, it is not a good sign. I have talked to people in the league, and Farley’s people are trying to pawn it off as it is no big deal, he’ll be ready for football, for camp. People in the league say this is something that will have to be monitored, something we are going to have to watch. This is something that is a concern and will negatively impact his draft stock."

The swarm of injuries the 49ers dealt with could mean a player like Farley, despite all his upside, could be a major injury risk. Not just in 2021 but potentially much longer.

Yet Farley’s undeniable abilities and strengths might prompt the Niners to take that risk, knowing full well they might be taking a massive gamble on his long-term health.

While that should be a first-round deterrent, taking a closer look in Round 2 might make a bit more sense.