Each year, we like to run a series of posts called "90-in-90." The idea is that we'll take a look at every player on the roster, from the very bottom to the top and break them down a few ways. This roster will certainly change, and some days we'll have more than one so it's not exactly 90 players in 90 days. At this point, it's a name we're keeping around for street cred.
A lot of folks here were excited when the San Francisco 49ers drafted Corey Lemonier. In fact, it seemed as though more people knew who Lemonier was than Aldon Smith back when the 49ers took him in the first round. Smith's pick was met with a lot of questions about who the heck he was, and while we saw a little of that with Lemonier, I thought it was great to see that a lot of folks did their homework and knew what he was capable of doing.
Lemonier wasn't slated to get a ton of playing time as a rookie, until Smith had his DUI and checked himself into rehab. The 49ers had Ahmad Brooks on one side, and a combination of Dan Skuta and Lemonier while Smith was away. I was expecting big things -- not necessarily in regards to sacks, but big things -- and I was not disappointed.
While Lemonier put up just one sack, he had a few quarterback hits and, at least by Pro Football Focus' estimation, 20 quarterback hurries and 24 total pressures. I went back and watched all of Lemonier's stuff a couple months ago, though I didn't chart down the hurries. Twenty sounds just a tad low to me but it was right around there.
Sticking with PFF, they ranked Lemonier as the most-efficient pass-rusher among rookies, including above guys like Ezekial Ansah, who had nine sacks, and Barkevious Mingo, who had five. Lemonier took less snaps than both of them -- by a wide margin -- and still had comparable pressure numbers.
We didn't get to see a ton of Lemonier dropping back to defend the pass, but he's very agile and light on his feet. In my opinion, it's something he'd be able to handle if he gets the proper coaching (something tells me the 49ers can provide that). It was a strong season, in my opinion.
Why he might improve:
Lemonier is entering his second season in the NFL, and is just 22 years old (he'll turn 23 in November). Improvement isn't just possible, it's expected by just about everyone. If there's a dissenting opinion on this, I'd love to hear it. Lemonier should get more opportunities as Smith is likely to serve some kind of suspension, and I imagine they'd want to work him onto the field even when Smith is around.
Why he might regress:
Maybe I'm wrong and he doesn't get as much playing time as we expect. I think Lemonier could make the leap into becoming a full-time starter while Smith is away, rather than split time with Skuta. But if that doesn't happen, he could conceivably see fewer snaps, especially if the league hands down a minor suspension of two to four games for Smith.
Odds of making the roster:
Lemonier is here to stay -- he's young, he showed great promise in his rookie season and obviously he's coming on the cheap. Aaron Lynch may have a thing or two to say about Lemonier's spot in the starting lineup in the near future, but there's room for both on the roster at the position.