The Senior Bowl collected a group of cornerbacks that has the physical attributes associated with the defense the 49ers have borrowed from the Seattle Seahawks.
Of course, there is one player after whom the new wave of NFL hopefuls mainly try to pattern their games.
Richard Sherman is listed at 6-foot-3, and had four All-Pro selections in his seven seasons with the Seahawks before signing last offseason with the 49ers.
“I’ve watched a lot of Richard Sherman,” Penn State cornerback Amani Oruwariye said. “He uses his body, his length to his advantage. That’s something I admire. I watch a lot of film on him. He attacks the ball, too. That’s something I’ve been doing that I want to improve on. Just going to getting the ball and being a playmaker.”
The group of cornerbacks that assembled in Mobile, Alabama, was certainly not lacking in size. Six of the 10 cornerbacks measured at 6-foot or taller, including Isaiah Johnson (Houston) and Lonnie Johnson (Kentucky), who checked in at 6-2 ¼.
Johnson set himself apart for his willingness and ability to make the big hit. But none of the cornerbacks stood out for sticking with the collectinon of all-star pass catchers.
It is doubtful any of the cornerbacks in Mobile will be selected in the first round of the draft. Those spots projected to go to underclassmen like Greedy Williams (LSU), Deandre Baker (Georgia) and Byron Murphy (Washington).
The 49ers invested third-round picks the past two years in cornerbacks Ahkello Witherspoon and Tarvarius Moore. They could be in the market for another cornerback this year to add to the depth and competition. The 49ers coached the South squad, which featured 6 foot-plus corners Isaiah Johnson, Lonnie Johnson and Sheldrick Redwin (6-foot 3/8) of Miami.
The evaluation process for the taller corners in Mobile consisted mostly of determining whether the size of those players restricted their agility to cover to receivers when contact is allowed only within the first 5 yards of the line of scrimmage.
“My agility was good, and it’s gotten a lot better,” said Oruwariye, generally regarded as the top cornerback prospect in Mobile. “I have to use my length and my size to my advantage, especially in this league with the 5-yard radius you have. You got to use it.”
Jordan Brown of South Dakota State began his college career as a wide receiver. But at 6-foot ¾, he transitioned to cornerback because his body type fit the mold.
“I knew I had the height to play corner and I was a prototype coming up in this day and age in the NFL,” said Brown, who has also studied Sherman’s game to incorporate into his own.
“He’s definitely an instinctive player. Growing up, even when I wasn’t playing cornerback, I watched him. He’s very smart, an intellectual corner and makes plays on the ball.”