For the 1-4 49ers, draft season has officially arrived — these are the names to know

A 3rd loss in a row has the Niners falling toward the top of the draft board

Tommy Call
October 08, 2018 - 5:22 pm

Heading into the 2018 season, a 1-4 record through the first five games seemed like a scenario only dreamt up in the Niners’ worst nightmares. That nightmare is now a reality, but it isn’t too early to start dreaming of a top-five draft pick in the spring.

Injuries have exposed the 49ers lack of depth and a team that once looked to be prime for a playoff spot is looking like a team destined for a top-10 draft pick for the fourth consecutive season.

A positive to the 49ers lackluster record is they’re currently on track to land a top flight caliber prospect in a class loaded with talent at several positions of need for the 49ers. With the way things are going in Santa Clara, it’s time to look at some positions and names the 49ers could be targeting for their 2019 draft .

Edge Rusher

The 49ers passed on an edge rusher in the 2018 draft and it’s shown to be a problem as the team has generated zero pass rush through five games. Lack of pass rush exposes other levels of the defense, putting extreme pressure on the secondary. Luckily for the 49ers, edge rusher is looking like the 2019 class’s strongest position group.

Montez Sweat, Mississippi State:

Sweat is a guy rising up draft boards as you read this. He dominated in Mississippi State’s upset win over Auburn. Sweat had three sacks, and a bevy of pressures on Jarrett Stidham. Sweat is prototype outside rusher, standing at 6’6, 240 lbs, Montez could thrive after adding some muscle in a NFL workout program. There isn’t a player like Sweat on the 49ers roster, making him a name to keep an eye on as draft season begins.

Jachai Polite, Florida:

Speaking of guys firing up draft boards, Polite might be the biggest early riser in the entire 2019 draft class.

Polite has a fearsome motor, and I say that with hesitation because most young prospects should have a motor, but Polite’s is something special. The guy never stops, whether it’s pass rush, tackling down the field, he’s really done it all for the Gators to start the season. Polite’s energy and motor is the type that rubs off on the rest of the team.

Polite would provide an immediate spark on the field and to the 49ers locker room. Polite was the center of Florida’s upset over LSU this weekend, with relentless attacking moves like this that continuously blew up LSU’s offense:

Josh Allen, Kentucky:

No not the quarterback Josh Allen, the edge rusher leading the Kentucky Wildcats to football relevancy.

Allen has been a PFF darling this season grading out at 90.0 through the start of the college football season. Allen plays like a man with his hair on fire, excuse the cliche, it’s just the best way to explain how good Allen has been this season in Lexington. He does a little bit of everything for the Wildcats, most importantly rushes the passer, but he’s also been in coverage a handful of times.

Allen pops up all over the field for the Wildcats, he’s extremely versatile, something the 49ers need on a defensive line that is rather one dimensional.

Other names to know: Nick Bosa - Ohio State, Brian Burns - Florida State, Jalen Jelks - Oregon

Wide Receiver

In training camp the 49ers receiving corp look like a dynamic group that co-existed in head coach Kyle Shanahan’s offense perfectly.

Unfortunately, with a injured quarterback it’s been tough to evaluate the group. One thing we do know for sure is they seriously lack a red zone threat. Marquise Goodwin provides a speed threat, Dante Pettis looks like a dynamic possession receiver and George Kittle is a tight end on the rise. Adding a big playmaking, red zone mismatch could tie this group together.  

DK Metcalf, Ole Miss:

The best way to describe Metcalf is saying he’s the college football wide receiver version of the Hulk. He’s a physical freak with unique footwork for a guy his size at 6’4, 225 lbs. He has the footwork and speed to lose guys at the line of scrimmage and the ball skills to nab anything that comes his way. Ole Miss has the best receiving corp in college football and Metcalf stands out as the best.

Hakeem Butler, Iowa State:

If you’ve watched college football this season and aren’t familiar with the name Hakeem Butler you should be.

He consistently makes big play after big play, something the 49ers lack. Butler stands at 6’6 and is very strong for his slender build. Butler plays in an offense at Iowa State that relies on the run game, but seeing him featured in a Shanahan offense could be scary for opposing defenses.

Other names to know: N’keal Harry - Arizona State, Collin Johnson - Texas, J.J Arcega-Whiteside - Stanford

Secondary

Heading into 2018, the 49ers secondary looked to be young and upcoming with players like Jaquiski Tartt, Adrian Colbert and Ahkello Witherspoon. Veteran free agent signing Richard Sherman has been great when healthy, but the young players have fell flat, showing the 49ers need for a playmaker in the secondary. If the 49ers plan to ever keep up with Rams, addressing the secondary in the draft is a must.

Greedy Williams, LSU:

If you can get past the best name in college football you’ll see that Williams is more than just a name.

He’s a feisty, larger corner with plus athleticism for his size. When evaluating players for the draft its a rule of thumb to watch them vs the best competition, when Williams matched up against the aforementioned Ole Miss receiver DK Metcalf, Williams locked him up. Only allowing three receptions for 37 yards. Williams had 10 total tackles vs. the Rebels. With Sherman still around in Santa Clara as a mentor, it could be the perfect fit for Williams.

Alijah Holder, Stanford:

We all know how much general manager John Lynch likes his Stanford alums, so why not mention the Palo Alto product as a name to watch?

Holder is legit and fits what defensive coordinator Robert Saleh wants in a corner, a big rangy body that has Sherman-esque qualities. Holder is fiesty and loves to press. Holder was all over the field in Stanford’s comeback win vs. Oregon. A good start to a campaign that could wind up keeping Holder in the Bay Area as a pro.

Other names to know: Deionte Thompson - Alabama, Taylor Rapp - Washington, Deandre Baker - Georgia, Byron Murphy - Washington, JoJo Mcintosh - Washington

Offensive Line

The 49ers showed how important investing in the offensive line was last season, signing Weston Richburg early in free agency and drafting Mike McGlinchey in the first round of last year’s draft.

Unfortunately, for them their offensive line is far from complete. Joe Staley is only getting older and offensive guard has been a rotating door through five weeks. Drafting a linemen early isn’t the sexy pick, but if the 49ers want to protect Jimmy Garoppolo from another season ending injury, the offensive line is something they should definitely look into.

Dalton Risner, Kansas State:

Risner is a versatile big man who has potential to play guard or right tackle in the NFL — sound familiar?

We all know how much Shanahan loves versatility. Risner has been lock down at for the Wildcats at right tackle making him a solid candidate to take over at right tackle for the 49ers. Risner isn’t a guy who will go in the top-10, but he could be a value pick early in the second round.

Jonah Williams, Alabama:

Williams deserves some credit for Tua Tagovailoa’s wild success to start the season. He’s been consistent against fierce competition.  

Williams is proving to be the only solid offensive line prospect that already is deserving of a first-round grade. Some offensive linemen will climb the board for line-hungry teams in April, but it will take something serious to knock Williams off as the number one offensive linemen in the 2019 class.

Other names to know: Trey Adams- Washington (Out for the season), Greg Little- Ole Miss

 

Draft season is a ever-changing process with new names popping up weekly. Keep it locked on @957TheGame for the best NFL draft coverage in the Bay Area. Follow @tommy_iii for continuous draft coverage and questions.

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