The San Francisco 49ers will likely head into the 2014 season with their starting linebackers set in Aldon Smith and Ahmad Brooks. Smith is still working through the legal issues surrounding his DUI and weapons charges, but for now, it would appear he should be good to go for 2014.
Behind Smith and Brooks, the 49ers have Dan Skuta and Corey Lemonier. The veteran Skuta and the rookie Lemonier were important contributors in 2013. When Smith left for rehab, Skuta and Lemonier split time opposite Ahmad Brooks, and did solid work. It wasn't the same as having Aldon on the edge, but all things considered, it could have gone a lot worse.
As we approach the 2014 NFL Draft, there have occasionally been people putting together mock drafts that consider outside linebacker in the first two or three rounds. It's a rarity, but I've seen it once or twice over the last month. I think depth is always a welcome addition, but to add a second or third round pick to the mix? It could create an incredibly dynamic rotation, but I'm not sure I see it given the presence of Skuta and Lemonier.
The 49ers of course can do a great job surprising us come draft day, so I won't put anything past Trent Baalke and company. Here is a rundown of the top 25 outside linebackers in Poldarn's consensus Big Board. I did not list defensive ends. Many will be converted to outside linebacker, but it looks like a lot of those likely conversions are listed in here. I've included each player's overall ranking in parenthesis.
1. Khalil Mack, Buffalo (6)
2. Anthony Barr, UCLA (10)
3. Dee Ford, Auburn (25)
4. Ryan Shazier, Ohio State (31)
5. Jeremiah Attaochu, Georgia Tech (37)
6. Kyle Van Noy, BYU (39)
7. Carl Bradford, Arizona State (70)
8. Telvin Smith, Florida State (81)
9. Jordan Tripp, Montana (122)
10. Christian Kirksey, Iowa (124)
11. Adrian Hubbard, Alabama (125)
12. Michael Sam, Missouri (151)
13. Morgan Breslin, USC (160)
14. Jonathan Brown, Illinois (194)
15. Ronald Powell, Florida (198)
16. Prince Shembo, Notre Dame (204)
17. Devon Kennard, USC (208)
18. Boseki Lokombo, Oregon (239)
19. Tyler Starr, South Dakota (240)
20. Howard Jones, Shepherd (241)
21. Shaquil Barrett, Colorado State (251)
22. Kevin Pierre-Louis, Boston College (252)
23. Denicos Allen, Michigan State (260)
24. Derrell Johnson, East Carolina (285)
25. Khairi Fortt, California (309)