Editor's note: Eric Crocker is a former AFL/NFL cornerback who now specializes in the defensive back position. This is part of a series in which he'll be providing a unique perspective on DB options for the 49ers.
Isaiah Oliver - Jr, Colorado
Ht/wt: 6-foot-1, 190 lbs.
2017: 26 tackles, 2 INT, 12 PBU
Isaiah Oliver is the ideal size for a cornerback. At 6-foot-1, 190 pounds, he has the length you look for in a long press corner, but also not too long to where it hampers him when guarding smaller receivers.
One of the first things that jumps out to me is Oliver's fluidity. He has an effortless, smooth backpedal with nice bend that will allow him to play off coverage at a high level. With the 49ers playing so much press and press bail coverage, let’s dig into the film and go over what makes Oliver worthy of a top-10 pick to San Francisco.
A lot of times, taller defensive backs have stiff hips. On this play, Washington State receiver Tavares Martin tries to work Oliver’s leverage to get inside. Although the ball was not thrown at Oliver, you can see his patience, feet and great hips come into play here.
When watching Oliver’s film, time and time again you see his ability to play the ball in the air downfield. It did not always result in interceptions, but oftentimes he was able to get his head around and knock the ball away.
Against Texas State he was able to track the ball down, and get his head around in a timely manner to be able to pluck the ball out the air.
Here, Oliver was in such great position that he nearly over runs the play. UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen sees Oliver is step for step with his receiver, so he tries to place the ball back shoulder. I’m still not sure how Oliver did this, but while in the air going upfield, he reaches backwards and still knocks the ball away showing off his elite athleticism.
Receivers in college had no success running away from Oliver. On this play, Washington State was able to use that to its advantage by throwing a perfectly placed back shoulder pass.
The thing that stood out to me on this play was he ran stride for stride with the receiver, was able to lean into the receiver, lock that arm and get his head around. This is perfect technique downfield. Unfortunately a perfect pass beats perfect coverage.
The following play didn’t show up often, but at times Oliver would play a little too far on the upfield shoulder. You would like him to stay lower hip to eliminate comeback routes.
Here, Colorado State's Michael Gallup was effective working Oliver off of the line. But Oliver’s make-up speed allowed him to not panic and once again make a play on the ball downfield.
Fit with 49ers:
The traits Isaiah Oliver possesses would allow him to be a Day 1 starter in the 49ers' scheme. His length, fluidity and track speed enables him to consistently run with receivers in the NFL.
Coming out of Colorado, he will get compared to Ahkello Witherspoon, but I believe he is already further along than Witherspoon in his development. When it's all said and done, I don't expect to see him get drafted in the top 10, but in my eyes, if he were drafted there by the 49ers, it would not be a reach considering they'd be getting a lockdown corner. More likely, though, Oliver figures to be a prime trade-back candidate.
Media courtesy Getty Images