Last year, the San Francisco 49ers took advantage of a surplus of picks and were able to take injured standout players Tank Carradine (second round) and Marcus Lattimore (fourth round) with an eye on the future. Both players missed the 2013 season, but the team is counting on Carradine, a defensive tackle, and Lattimore, a running back, to contribute in 2014.
It wouldn’t be a surprise if the 49ers -- with few immediate needs and a projected 12 draft picks -- to again show interest in injured players to develop. But unlike last year's draft, there aren't many top rated players recovering from an injury this year.
The best prospect coming off an injury may be Florida defensive lineman Dominique Easley. He was a first-round talent, but had a torn ACL. He is now projected as a late-second or early-third round pick, according to ESPN draft analyst Steve Muench.
Muench said Virginia Tech cornerback Antone Exum (the position is one of the 49ers’ top needs) could be a mid-round steal. He is coming off a knee injury that kept him out of most of last season.
LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger is coming off a torn ACL that will affect his draft status. But Muench said he doubts he is a fit for the 49ers, which may be looking in the draft for a quarterback to groom as a backup.
Still, as we learned last year, the 49ers will not be swayed by injury. They are willing to wait for the right player.