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What the 49ers 2016 NFL Draft results mean for the defensive line depth chart

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The San Francisco 49ers drafted two defensive linemen, and signed three such players as UDFAs. Time to break down what it means for the 49ers defensive line depth chart.

Previous posts: QB | RB | OL

The San Francisco 49ers kick off their rookie minicamp on Thursday with player arrivals, and practice follows that on Friday. With OTAs getting started in two weeks, now seems like a good time to start assessing what the 2016 NFL Draft means to the roster. We're going to run through each position on the depth chart and take a preliminary look at how the draft picks might impact it, as well as an initial thought on the bubble watch. Today, we move on to the defensive line.

Defensive Line

Quinton Dial, Arik Armstead, Ian Williams, DeForest Buckner, Ronald Blair, Glenn Dorsey, Mike Purcell, Tony Jerod-Eddie, Kaleb Ramsey, Garrison Smith, Demetrius Cherry, Darren Lake

The 49ers added some heft to their defensive line in the 2016 NFL Draft, selecting DeForest Buckner in the first round, and Ronald Blair in the fifth round. Buckner will get plenty of opportunities early on, but Blair could be the sleeper to watch from this year's draft class. Make sure and read David Neumann's scouting report, explaining why Blair could be the day three player most likely to impact the 49ers.

The 49ers signed Demetrius Cherry and Darren Lake as UDFAs, and also added Alex Balducci. However, Balducci is expected to transition over to the offensive line. The only other notable offseason move was re-signing Ian Williams. The nose tackle was expected to sign a multi-year deal, but we learned later that he had multiple surgeries on his ankle. The deal was turned into a one-year deal with significant roster bonuses, as there are questions as to whether he'll be ready for Week 1.

The other big question on the depth chart is Glenn Dorsey. He tore his ACL last fall, but appears to be making good progress. He could conceivably be back for Week 1, but it seems like a decent likelihood he ends up on the PUP list to start training camp. If he is able to return in time for Week 1, this defensive line will potentially boast more depth than any other position on the roster.

Bubble watch

We know that the locks include Quinton Dial, Arik Armstead, Ian Williams, DeForest Buckner, and Glenn Dorsey. I'd say we include Ronald Blair as well considering Trent Baalke said he was one of his favorite players this year. And while fifth round picks can get cut their first year, I just don't see it happening.

After that, the next level of competition includes guys like Mike Purcell and Tony Jerod-Eddie. After that, we're talking about Kaleb Ramsey, Garrison Smith, Demetrius Cherry, and Darren Lake. The status of Williams and Dorsey will impact these six names. If both are slow returning and open the season on the PUP list, that opens up two roster spots. If one or both can play, not so much.

The 49ers carried seven defensive lineman at the start of last season, and finished with six after Dorsey went on IR. My guess is Mike Purcell makes the roster as a nose tackle option. Then, it's between Tony Jerod-Eddie and the other four players for that final spot. We'll also see one or two defensive linemen end up on the practice squad.