The San Francisco 49ers saw history repeat itself in the 2016 NFL Draft. For the second straight season, the team spent a first round pick on a University of Oregon defensive lineman. A year after selecting Arik Armstead with the 17th overall pick, the 49ers selected DeForest Buckner with the seventh overall pick.
The question now is what kind of role do we expect from Buckner in his rookie season. He spent much of the offseason workout program working with the third string defense, but moved up to second team in minicamp. It is not surprising to see a rookie start at the bottom upon arrival, but I don’t think anybody expects him to remain down there when the team kicks off the 2016 season against the Los Angeles Rams.
The folks at National Football Post put together a look at all the first round picks, and who they would replace in each team’s lineup. We’ll take a look at the Joshua Garnett portion later, but for now, here’s what NFP had to say about Buckner:
The Buckner selection makes it two Oregon defensive ends in two straight first rounds. Buckner and Arik Armstead are the two starters now. Buckner takes over for Glenn Dorsey and Quinton Dial. The 49ers heavily rotated their defensive ends last season. Dorsey and Dial will be good backups now.
Buckner will be a starter on the 49ers defensive line at some point. The question is how soon. I suspect we see him in the nickel to start, but I know some folks that think he’ll replace Quinton Dial in the starting lineup. Dial signed a contract extension, so he’ll get plenty of playing time, but if Buckner impresses, who knows what will happen.
I’ve decided to include a poll to see what people think about Dial vs. Buckner. Rather than say who will be starting when, let’s figure out who ends up with more defensive snaps in 2016. The base defense is not necessarily going to be the 3-4 because the team will get plenty of work in their nickel and dime sub-packages. At the same time, does Dial find himself playing some nose tackle if Ian Williams and Glenn Dorsey miss extended time? I think Mike Purcell ends up with some of that work, but who knows what Jim O’Neil and company have in mind.
So, go ahead and vote. Which of the two linemen will play more defensive snaps in 2016?