49ers safety prospect No. 1: Nick Cross, Maryland
Kerby Joseph might be a one-year collegiate wonder. Maryland safety Nick Cross, however, has made his stamp known for a little while now.
At 6-foot-1 and 215 pounds, Cross is a physical specimen who has the playmaking ability to be far greater a presence on the back end of the defense, notably an upgrade over a prospect such as Bryan Cook. Cross not only has blazing-fast speed, having ran a 4.34 40-yard time at the NFL Scouting Combine, but he uses his body to deliver big hits, too.
Essentially, he could easily be the 49ers’ defensive enforcer.
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Those attributes likely peg him as an excellent free safety option in a single-high defense where he can use his ranginess and hard-hitting abilities to great advantage. Should the Niners deploy more traditional Cover 2 looks with both safeties deep, Cross would pair well with Jimmie Ward. Or, if Ward is moved closer to the box, Cross is perhaps the best option feasibly available to San Francisco in Round 2 to man the last line of defense.
Again, it’s hard to say if Cross will fall that far, and it wouldn’t be overly shocking if he somehow slips into Round 1.
If he’s there for the 49ers at No. 61, though, don’t be surprised if Cross is the pick.