The NFL has regularly evolved in the versatility of certain players. We are seeing more and more wide receivers and running backs that can alternate roles, and the move tight end has become a regular feature for dynamic offenses. On defense, Tyrann Mathieu is an example of a versatile threat at the second and third levels of the defense.
In the 2018 NFL Draft there are several options that will be able to play a host of roles. We’ve seen the 49ers mentioned in connection with Alabama defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick and Florida State safety/utility guy Derwin James. However, NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah and Bucky Brooks are looking at a versatile option on the first and second level.
Last week, we talked about Jeremiah’s mock draft that had Virginia Tech linebacker Tremaine Edmunds going to the 49ers. Today, Brooks has joined him in mocking Edmunds to the 49ers. However, what is intriguing is how they view Edmunds.
Jeremiah: Edmunds is one of my favorite players in the draft. He has a rare blend of size, speed and athleticism. He would be a perfect complement to Reuben Foster at the second level of the 49ers’ defense.
Brooks: Versatile playmaker ideally suited to play the “Leo” role in the 49ers’ defense.
NFL.com has started rolling out their scouting reports for the upcoming draft, and they say his size and speed offers a unique skillset. He has long limbs and a sizable frame that makes carrying his 250 pound frame fairly easy. One NFC scout thought a comp was difficult just because of the uniqueness of his size and speed.
“Good luck with your player comp on this one. They don’t come like him. I don’t think there has ever been a linebacker that has had his size and speed. You’re better off comping him with a basketball player.”
The 49ers need help at edge rusher, but also need more options around Reuben Foster. Malcolm Smith and Eli Harold are currently in line to start there in 2018, but the 49ers will be looking for options to upgrade one or both spots. At the same time, the nickel defense is more of a base defense than the basic 4-3, so having someone who can handle the edge is arguably more important in some ways than a player who is better suited primarily as a strong or weak side linebacker. Having someone who can do both is of course all the better.