The NFL Scouting Combine begins on Tuesday, February 26. It’s the San Francisco 49ers’ first critical phase of the offseason as they prepare for the 2019 NFL Draft beginning April 25. On the eve of the combine, we executed our own three-round mock NFL Draft using The Draft Network’s brand-new simulator that made its debut on Monday. Let’s take a look at the 49ers’ two-day haul and how they’d fit on the roster.
Round 1, Pick 2: Josh Allen, EDGE, Kentucky
The draft’s top pass rusher, Ohio State’s Nick Bosa, went first-overall to the Arizona Cardinals in this scenario. With trades unavailable in TDN’s simulator, this left the 49ers with a choice between Alabama defensive lineman Quinnen Williams and Kentucky linebacker Josh Allen, No. 2 and No. 3 on the board, respectively. We went with the latter.
In 2018, Allen racked up 88 total tackles, 21.5 tackles for loss, 17 sacks, five forced fumbles and four pass breakups at Kentucky. He raised eyebrows in the Citrus Bowl with three sacks and a blocked field goal in Kentucky’s 27-24 victory over Penn St. No edge rusher was more effective than Allen in 2018, generating pressure on 23.4% of his pass rush attempts, per Pro Football Focus.
The 6-foot-5, 260-pound linebacker is an ideal fit for defensive coordinator Robert Saleh’s scheme. Allen possesses the speed and athleticism to function as the SAM linebacker on base downs, setting the edge and occasionally dropping into coverage, where he excelled at Kentucky. The majority of Allen’s impact would come rushing the passer in sub-packages and obvious passing situations, which is roughly two-thirds of defensive snaps in today’s NFL.
The 49ers are in dire need of an edge rusher to complement the bevy of first-round investments along the team’s defensive front. Allen represents an ideal combination of both best player available and filling a need at pick No. 2 for general manager John Lynch.
Round 2, Pick 36: Deionte Thompson, S, Alabama
The 49ers fielded eight different safety combinations in 2018. Starters Adrian Colbert and Jaquiski Tartt both struggled to replicate their 2017 success before succumbing to season-ending injuries. The defense’s last line of defense is among the team’s most depleted position groups. Enter Deionte Thompson.
The former Alabama safety would fill a significant void for Saleh. Thompson (6-2, 195) totaled 78 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, six pass breakups, two interceptions and three forced fumbles in 2018. He possesses both the athleticism and instincts to step in at free safety and bring stability to the group.
Thompson is commonly mocked within the first-round by draft analysts, but with wrist surgery sidelining him for the combine, there’s a chance he’s available for the 49ers in the second round.
Round 3, Pick 67: Hakeem Butler, WR, Iowa State
The 49ers are expected to part ways with receiver Pierre Garçon this offseason. The 11-year veteran was signed to a five year, $47.5 million contract in 2017 as one of Lynch and Shanahan’s first marquee free agents. But after two disappointing seasons, both ending on injured reserve, the writing was on the wall for Garçon and his future with San Francisco.
The void left by Garçon had already begun to be filled by a combination of speedster Marquise Goodwin, rookie Dante Pettis and former undrafted free agent Kendrick Bourne. The unit is still in need of significant upgrade, and Hakeem Butler would add an entirely new dynamic to coach Kyle Shanahan’s receiving corps.
At 6-foot-6 and 225 pounds, Butler would be the 49ers’ biggest pass-catching threat to include tight ends. The massive Iowa state receiver racked up 60 receptions for 1,318 yards and nine touchdowns in 2018. Butler averaged an impressive 22 yards per reception. Given his varied ability to win at the catch-point, Butler would give the 49ers a truly intimidating presence both on the perimeter and in the red zone.
How would you grade the haul of Allen, Thompson, & Butler?
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