According to Ryan Fowler of The Draft Network, the 49ers are among three teams to have a top-30 visit with Louisville defensive lineman YaYa Diaby. Calling Diaby an edge rusher doesn’t feel right, although that’s where he lined up. The Cardinals run an odd front, and Diaby does a lot of slanting and stunting. He’s more of a “big end,” in the same mold as Arik Armstead.
The baseline athleticism is there, and then some. At 263 pounds, Diaby ran a 4.51 40-yard dash with a 1.56 10-yard split. Add in a 37” vertical jump and you have an elite athlete.
According to the NFL’s mock draft database, Diaby is projected to go around the 161 overall range, which is toward the end of the 5th round — right in the 49ers wheelhouse.
Diaby plays with terrific energy and effort, and, as you might imagine, has a fantastic first step. He can be disruptive based on his pursuit alone, but he doesn’t have a consistent plan as a pass rusher and plays high, which is why he’s considered a Day 3 prospect.
He’s the type of player who overwhelms guards when he’s playing inside. The 49ers allow their defensive lineman to play fast and on the move, which is where Diaby excels. It’d be up to Kris Kocurek to develop Diaby’s hand usage and ability to shed if he’s going to be a rotational player for the Niners.
Despite the room to grow, Diaby’s production is intriguing. He finished 2022 with 14 tackles for loss and nine sacks. I saw a couple of those sacks, and they were unblocked or the quarterback ran into Diaby, but when you’re constantly hustling and playing behind the line of scrimmage, you’re rewarded.