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For the next three months, brace yourself for spiraling rumors, microanalysis of bench press reps and 40-yard dash times, and speculation on draft-day trades. ‘Tis the joy of the NFL offseason.
Several draftniks have released the first-round of their early 2019 mock drafts. The 49ers have the No. 2 overall selection behind the Arizona Cardinals. Of the 10 mock drafts we gathered, four different players, all defensive linemen, were linked with the 49ers. The team’s high draft pick and glaring need for an improved edge rush makes this year’s draft a bit easier to predict — although it never is.
Keep in mind last year, the 49ers surprised most when they selected Notre Dame right tackle Mike McGlinchey, who was scarcely projected to join San Francisco among the throngs of mock drafts. But the team drafted McGlinchey with the plan to trade incumbent starting right tackle Trent Brown. The following morning, the 49ers dealt Brown and a fifth-round pick to the New England Patriots for a third-round pick.
The 49ers could trade down with a quarterback-needy team this year, but for now, let’s assume they stand pat at No. 2 overall.
Of the mock drafts we collected, here is the breakdown of players linked with the 49ers:
Josh Allen, defensive end/outside linebacker, Kentucky: 5
Rashan Gary, defensive end, Michigan: 2
Quinnen Williams, defensive tackle, Alabama: 2
Nick Bosa, defensive end, Ohio State: 1
ESPN’s Todd McShay: Rashan Gary
“The Niners are seeking an edge rusher — among other things — and Gary provides explosive closing burst and elite athleticism. He’s a nightmare to block and would provide a jolt to San Francisco’s defensive line.”
ESPN’s Mel Kiper: Josh Allen
“The 49ers took defensive linemen in the first round in three straight years (2015 to ’17), but DeForest Buckner is the only true star of the group. And none of those picks has the edge-rushing potential of Allen, who racked up 17 sacks for the Wildcats this season. If you’re talking about pure pass-rushing ability, the 6-foot-5, 230-pound Allen is right up there with Bosa. San Francisco needs to add offensive weapons this offseason, but none is worth taking this high.”
NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein: Rashan Gary
“Watching Allen come off the board at No. 1 is a curveball the 49ers will need to be prepared for. Ohio State’s Nick Bosa is a more polished and game-ready edge rusher than Gary, but San Francisco could opt for explosiveness over refinement.”
The Athletic’s Dane Brugler: Quinnen Williams
“Ideally, the 49ers will be targeting an edge rusher with this pick, but Williams’ ability to create interior disruption will make him tough to pass up. At such a young age, he shows the unique ability to interchangeably use his gifts to defeat blocks and live in the opponent’s backfield. With high draft picks, the goal should be to find impact players and Williams is special — the 49ers shouldn’t overthink it.”
Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller: Josh Allen
“The San Francisco 49ers lose out on the Nick Bosa sweepstakes but still land an exciting pass-rusher with the No. 2 overall selection.
“Kentucky’s Josh Allen dominated the SEC this season with 18.5 tackles for a loss and 14 sacks while showing the length, burst and power on a 6’5”, 260-pound frame that will get scouts excited. Barring a wild trade scenario to land Bosa, this is the next best move for a team desperate to add a pass rush.
“Some might argue selecting another defensive lineman in the first round is a bad idea for the 49ers, but the value in this draft class is in the front four. The only other option for San Francisco would be to trade back, potentially out of the top 10, and let a team in need of a quarterback move up to the No. 2 spot. It could then focus on a cornerback or wide receiver need, but it can’t reach for a need here.”
Sports Illustrated’s Kalyn Kahler: Quinnen Williams
“To no one’s surprise, the redshirt sophomore declared for the NFL draft after the Crimson Tide lost to Clemson in the national championship. Williams had a breakout year in his first season as a full-time starter, proving himself against top-level competition in the SEC. Teams might question whether the 19-year-old’s maturity level, and one scout said teams just don’t know enough about his character to check off that box, but his play on the field is a sure thing. At 300 pounds, he can be a three-down player in any scheme.”
CBS Sports’ Ryan Wilson: Nick Bosa
“This is the best-case scenario for the 49ers. Fans have been clamoring for Josh Allen here, since the assumption is that Bosa will go first overall. And after using first-round picks on defensive linemen in three of the last four drafts, adding Bosa at No. 2 almost feels like a steal.”
CBS Sports’ R.J. White: Josh Allen
“Allen could have entered the draft last year but the odds were slim that someone would have taken him in the first round. Now, unless he has a terrible predraft season, he’s almost certain to go in the top five after a year where he doubled his sack total (to 14) after adding weight.”
The Draft Network’s Kyle Crabbs: Josh Allen
“The good news? The 49ers don’t need a quarterback (we think). The bad news? The 49ers don’t really need a defensive tackle, either. Josh Allen, on the other hand, can provide the outside rush presence that the 49ers are lacking.
“With DeForest Buckner and Arik Armstead in house, the 49ers are set in the middle. Solving the pass rush problems will come with speed of the edge.”
SB Nation’s Dan Kadar: Josh Allen
“Allen going this high will be dependent on him having a great showing at the NFL Scouting Combine in a couple months. If his timing numbers are off, the 49ers will have a tough decision to make. Would they really Alabama’s Quinnen Williams after taking DeForest Buckner and Arik Armstead recently?”