© Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
With NFL Combine workouts concluding Monday, let’s review how potential 49ers’ targets performed. Whose draft stock rose, fell, or remained the same?
It’s important to look at the EDGE crop outside of the top two players because the 49ers could trade their No. 2 overall pick for more assets. Their view of the top guys likely didn’t change much, at least based on the Combine’s workout portion.
Ohio State’s Nick Bosa: Stock unchanged
The draft’s top prospect still holds that title after a solid turnout. Bosa lifted 29 bench reps. He ran a 4.79 40-yard dash, 7.10-second three-cone, and 4.14-second short shuttle time. Those are good numbers. He didn’t blow anyone away, but he didn’t have to. If he is available with the No. 2 pick, it would be surprising if the 49ers picked someone other than Bosa.
And if his comments over the weekend are any indication, he seems to think he fits with the 49ers. He met with the team Saturday night.
Kentucky’s Josh Allen: Stock unchanged
Allen is the player most commonly linked with the 49ers after Bosa. Allen, who compared himself to Khalil Mack and Von Miller over the weekend, performed well in his workouts. He ran a 4.62-second 40-yard dash, 7.15 three-cone, and 4.23-second short shuttle. He lifted 28 bench reps.
Allen did nothing to change his status as a top-five prospect.
Florida State’s Brian Burns: Stock up
Burns’ most important measure preceded his workout. After playing the 2018 season around 230-to-235 pounds, Burns weighed in at the Combine at 249 pounds, a major breakthrough.
Apparently, the added bulk didn’t negate his speed and athleticism.
The Florida State star ran a 4.53 40-yard dash, ranking third among all EDGE players. He finished second at the position with a 129-inch broad jump. His 7.01-second three-cone and 1.61 10-yard split are good times. He continued to show off his fluidity when he snagged a low pass during coverage drills.
Brian Burns got hands
— Cameron DaSilva (@camdasilva) March 3, 2019
Florida’s Jachai Polite: Stock down
The team interviews are arguably the most important part of the Combine because they are one of the few times teams have face-to-face interaction with players before the draft. The 49ers were sold on Mike McGlinchey last year by the way he commanded the room during his 15-minute interview.
Polite seemingly did the opposite. The Florida State EDGE told reporters that the 49ers are one of the teams that “bashed” him.
“A lot of people bashed me, I’m not going to lie,” Polite said. “They didn’t even really speak about football.”
Based on video of the interview, it seems he could have been half-joking.
Some have said reading the exchange makes it seem worse than the video shows. I’d agree. pic.twitter.com/DySHyjdAEH
— Zach Heilprin (@ZachHeilprin) March 3, 2019
Regardless, there are many ways he could have answered differently. That he felt teams were bashing him, not critiquing him, is telling enough.
Mississippi State’s Montez Sweat: Stock up
The 49ers coached Sweat at the Senior Bowl last month. After an impressive week of practice, he was contained in the game, deeming his Combine performance as an important step in boosting his draft stock.
He redeemed himself in a big way. Sweat blazed his way to a 4.41 second 40-yard dash, the fastest time for a defensive lineman in Combine history. Of this year’s defensive linemen, Sweat finished tied for fourth in broad jump (127 inches), tied for fifth in three-cone (seven seconds), seventh in the short shuttle (4.29 seconds), and tied for eighth in vertical jump (36 inches).
Sweat could be an option for the 49ers in a trade-down scenario.
The 49ers are looking to replace Pierre Garcon, who was released last month, at the “Z” position in Kyle Shanahan’s offense. The free agent receiver market isn’t very deep, but the upcoming draft class is.
Ole Miss’ AJ Brown: Stock unchanged
Over the weekend, Brown said he is the best receiver in the draft. If other teams feel similarly, he won’t drop to the 49ers at No. 36 overall. If he does, he would be a steal.
Brown was among the most productive receivers in college football in his final two seasons at Ole Miss. He caught 75 passes for 1,252 yards and 11 touchdowns in his sophomore year. He was better his junior year, amassing 85 catches, 1320 yards (a school record), and six touchdowns.
He posted solid scores across the board during his Combine workout. He ran a 4.49 40-yard dash and lifted 19 bench reps. Brown didn’t participate in either the three-cone or 40-yard shuttle, which are drills the 49ers value. But he didn’t do anything to hurt his status as one of the draft’s top receivers — and seemingly a perfect fit for the 49ers.
South Carolina’s Deebo Samuel: Stock up
The 49ers are interested in Samuel. They coached him at the Senior Bowl last month, and he stood out as one of the week’s top performers. The 49ers met with him again at the Combine. One takeaway from the meeting: he was pleasantly surprised to meet new receivers coach Wes Welker.
Samuel isn’t an eye-popping athlete, but he posted good times over the weekend. He ran a 4.48 40-yard dash, which is better than most expected. His vertical was 39 inches, another solid number. The small-area drills are where Samuel expected to shine, and he did. He produced a 4.14-second short shuttle time and 7.03-second three-cone time.
Few draft experts and evaluators have a bad thing to say about Samuel. He is another option for the 49ers with the No. 36 pick, or if they are lucky, at No. 67 overall.
Georgia’s Riley Ridley: Stock down
Ridley met with the 49ers over the weekend. A physical wideout who prides himself on making tough catches, Ridley fits at the “Z” receiver in Shanahan’s system. After an unimpressive Combine workout, it’s possible he falls to San Francisco’s No. 67 pick.
Ridley ran a 4.59 40-yard dash. He posted a 30.5-inch vertical jump, which falls in the fifth percentile. He ran a middling 4.28-second short shuttle, though his 7.22 three-cone was the third-fastest of the receivers who participated in the drill.
The Combine isn’t made for a player like Ridley, but a couple of his scores (particularly the vertical) were disappointing.
Michigan’s Devin Bush: Stock up
This year’s linebacker class features the two Devins and everyone else.
LSU’s Devin White is a potential top-10 pick. Bush’s projections range from early second round to top-15, but after his dominant Combine performance, it would be surprising if isn’t selected in the first round. He’s the type of rangy, instinctual linebacker that is coveted around the league.
Bush’s 40.5-inch vertical was the best among linebackers, his 4.43-second 40 yard dash ranked third, and his 6.93 three-cone time was the seventh-best.
Minnesota’s Blake Cashman: Stock up
Here’s a name you should know.
Cashman racked up 104 tackles and 15 tackles for a loss in his junior season that ended in a third-team All-Big Ten nomination. Those numbers placed him alongside some impressive company.
Only 82 players since 2000 have had a season with at least 100 tackles and 15 TFL
List includes Khalil Mack, Navarro Bowman, Ryan Shazier, Danny Trevathan, Sean Weatherspoon and other notable NFLers
Blake Cashman from Minnesota is one of those guys https://t.co/91LkPM4gnc
— jf (@jeff_feyerer) March 4, 2019
Cashman stood out over the weekend. He posted a 4.12 short shuttle (ranked fourth among linebackers), 124-inch broad jump (fourth), 4.50-second 40-yard time (fifth), 37.5-inch vertical leap (sixth), and 6.95 three-cone (seventh).
The 49ers have plenty of rotational defensive backs with NFL experience, but Richard Sherman is the only locked into a starting role for Week 1. The 49ers will likely add a cornerback in the draft. And if their efforts to sign Earl Thomas — or another free agent at the position — are unfulfilled, they will likely draft a free safety.
The 49ers covet cornerbacks who are at least 6-feet tall and have 32-inch-plus size hands. Those measurables are seriously emphasized in the draft. Last year, the 49ers used a third-round draft pick on Tarvarius Moore with the plan to convert him from safety to cornerback because he fits the prototype.
Clemson CB Trayvon Mullen: Stock up
Mullen was Clemson’s top corner on its National Championship-winning team. He helped his pro prospects at the Combine after clocking a 4.46 40-yard dash and 123-inch broad jump. Mullen is a fringe first-rounder.
Houston CB Isaiah Johnson: Stock up
At 6-foot-2, 208 pounds, Johnson emerged as one of the class’ elite athletes after dominating his workouts Monday. He ran a 4.40-second 40-yard dash, the third-fastest among cornerbacks. His 4.06-second short shuttle finished second. His 133-inch broad jump ranked third. He jumped a 36 1/2-inch vertical.
Virginia S Juan Thornhill: Stock up
Thornhill tallied 10 interceptions over the past two years with Virginia. He would be a welcome addition to a 49ers secondary devoid of much playmaking. The question is whether he will be available at No. 36 overall, particularly after his historic Combine performance.
OKAY. @Juan_Thornhill just jumped 44" in the vertical!
— NFL (@NFL) March 4, 2019
Come within one inch of the Combine’s vertical jump record, and you’re sure to turn heads. But this was simply reaffirming — Thornhill has been considered one of the top safety prospects in the draft.
In addition to the 44-inch vertical, he posted an 141-inch broad jump, the best among defensive backs. He also ran a 4.42-second 40-yard dash.