By Ryan Ratty @RyanRattyNFL on April 19, 2014
Since Jim Harbaugh took over, the San Francisco 49ers have been one of the league's best teams. Last year, the 49ers took second place to the Seattle Seahawks, who went on to win the Super Bowl. The 49ers and the Seahawks are both really similar. They have excellent defenses that come to play every Sunday. It is vital that the Niners add contributors in this year's draft. Here are five dark horse first-round targets to watch for.
I put Odell Beckham Jr. here because the Niners could trade up for him. Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry combined to be one of the best duos in all of college football in 2013. He has good hands and he is a good route runner. The bad thing about Beckham Jr. is his size. He plays like he is 6-foot-2, but in reality, he is only a shade under six.
The wide receiver class is loaded in this year's draft. Allen Robinson may be the most explosive receiver. At 6-foot-3, 220 pounds, Robinson has the frame to be a real good pass-catcher. Robinson ran a sub-4.5 40-yard dash at his pro day. Colin Kaepernick played much better when Michael Crabtree returned, but the Niners could easily add another receiver to help him out.
Ra'Shede Hageman was once viewed as a top-10 pick because he oozes athletic ability. At 6-foot-6, 315 pounds, Hageman possesses one of the best frames out of any draft prospect. He is quick off the ball, and he is a relentless player when he wants to be. The bad thing about him is that he sometimes takes plays off. Vic Fangio would make this guy a contributor on this defensive line. I compare him to Sheldon Richardson.
Jason Verrett is a bit small, but he plays taller than he is. If Verrett was two inches taller than 5-foot-9, he would most likely be chosen in the top 15. Usually cornerbacks who are smaller tend to have more fluid hips. That's not the case with Verrett. The TCU product is at his best when he is pressing receivers. Like Tyrann Mathieu in last year's draft, many view Verrett as a slot cornerback. Verrett would be a nice pick in the first round.
The 2014 NFL Draft is loaded with pass rushers, and Jeremiah Attaochu is getting no love because of that. In my opinion, Attaochu is the best 3-4 outside linebacker in this class not named Jadeveon Clowney. Aldon Smith is talented, but he can't seem to keep his head on straight. To me, extending Smith would cause a ton of trouble. Attaochu is a dark horse pick because he has the length to be a 3-4 outside linebacker.
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