Defensive linemen and linebackers are going through the on-field gauntlet of drills on Sunday, and that is providing a look at edge rushers the 49ers can consider up and down the draft board. Nick Bosa and Josh Allen are the top two considerations for many at the No. 2 pick, but Mississippi State product Montez Sweat offered up an eye-catching 40 on Sunday.
Sweat ran it in 4.41 seconds, setting a record for defensive linemen dating back to 2003. Coincidentally enough, Manny Lawson was tied with Isaac Hilton for the previous record of 4.44. Sweat showed it was not a fluke when he ran it in 4.46 seconds on his second opportunity.
A 40 time is interesting, but for pass rushers, the 10-yard split is more valuable. A pass rusher might have to run 40 or more yards to take down a ball carrier, but when it comes to getting after the quarterback, they need to have burst off the line. Strength is important, but with some of the monster tackles in the NFL, you need to be able to beat them off the edge at times.
Sweat ran the first ten yards in 1.50 seconds, which was second among defensive linemen behind Ben Banogu (1.47), and just ahead of Nick Bosa and Chase Winovich (1.55). Sweat will be competing with Clelin Ferrell, Jachai Polite, Brian Burnes, and Rashan Gary, among others to be in that next group of edge rushers off the board.
Sweat is not a candidate for the No. 2 spot at this point, but if the 49ers were to move back in the first round, he could be on their radar. They worked with him at the Senior Bowl, so they have had plenty of time getting to know him. Robert Saleh talked about him being one of the prospects who stood out and helped his stock. He seems a bit raw in some aspects, meaning he’ll need the right d-line coach to work with him in developing his pass rush techniques. But there’s a lot to like about the physical tools he brings to the table.