The NFL Draft inches closer and closer, which means the 49ers will spend these next couple of weeks visiting with dozens of potential prospects the team feels will help them in the immediate and near future.
According to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, the latest player scheduled to visit the Niners is Western Kentucky edge rusher, DeAngelo Malone.
In 2021, Malone led the Conference USA in tackles for loss at 16.5 and was second in with eight sacks. He also led the nation among defensive linemen with 88 tackles. He’s on the older side at 23, but Malone was named the conference’s Player of the Year in both 2019 and 2021. Malone was also first-team all-conference for three consecutive seasons.
Malone didn’t participate during the NFL Combine, but he put on a show during Western Kentucky’s pro day last month:
Another one a lot of folks were waiting on.— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) April 9, 2022
DeAngelo Malone is a DE prospect in the 2022 draft class. He scored a 9.03 RAS out of a possible 10.00. This ranked 144 out of 1479 DE from 1987 to 2022. https://t.co/FL0927qIJG #RAS pic.twitter.com/TXqx0qCUdo
For what it's worth, Malone actually ran a 4.58 40-yard dash at his pro day with a 9-foot-11 inch broad jump. So, he’s even more explosive than the numbers above indicate.
On the field, Malone played the weak-side edge rusher position in an even front. He spent most of his time standing up. Malone has experience as a wide-9 rusher, which only makes his projection to the Niners easier.
Sports Info Solutions has a “hand on ball” percentage that tracks whether a player broke up or intercepted a pass and forced or recovered a fumble. Malone ranked sixth among all draft-eligible prospects. In the top-10 in tackles for loss per game, Malone was ranked 11th in the fewest missed tackles percentage.
Malone possesses traits you cannot teach, like a quick first step, relentless motor, and athleticism. He also has a repertoire of pass rush moves which is why he won so often in college.
Malone tends to run up the field, lose his gap integrity, or play a bit out of control. He also doesn’t have the strength to hold on the strong side of the formation. Pair that with playing too high, and Malone figures to be a sub-package player to start his career.
Malone is generally mocked in the late third-round range. If he lasts until pick No. 93, that would be tremendous value for the Niners if they elect to draft a different position in the second round.