The San Francisco 49ers hold an astonishing 13 picks in the 2013 NFL Draft, and although they will likely trade quantity for quality, it will be interesting to see which position of need the 49ers will target first. And even though the “need” will greatly depend on the picks before them, I believe they will target defensive line.
I have listed five defensive lineman the Niners should target based on their production, character, measurable’s, and football smarts. These players have all been evaluated as first-round grades according to my big board and would provided much needed depth to the position.
1. Bjoern Werner (Florida St.)- I had Werner as a top 10 talent coming out of college, and although his draft stock may have slipped, he would provide great value with the 31st pick. He has a non-stop motor and is a relentless pass-rusher off the edge. He only played five years of organized football, so his football IQ is unquestioned. He would be a great insurance policy for DE Justin Smith and a great player to groom.
2. Datone Jones (UCLA)- This guy is my favorite of the group. He absolutely shined at the Senior Bowl and is drawing interest from numerous teams which includes the Cincinnati Bengals. The UCLA product would be an ideal 3-4 defensive end and has the H-W-S (Height-Weight-Speed) the 49ers covet, as he ran a 4.8 40-yard dash. Not only that but Jones showed great work ethic in the weight room by knocking out 29 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press.
3. Margus Hunt (SMU)- Hunt has been climbing up draft boards as small school college players tend to do. He provided one of the best NFL combine’s last month and was considered this year’s “workout warrior.” However, it remains to be seen how it translates onto the field. He dominated college but it was no where near the powerhouse conferences such as the SEC or Pac-12, leaving talent evaluators to project his talent.
4. Alex Okafor (Texas)- This player reminds me a lot of former San Francisco 49er DE/OLB Chike Okeafor. A “tweener” that has the strength to bull rush lineman and speed to run around them. Okafor may never be a 10 digit sack artist but may provide 6-8 sacks for the next 10 years. A solid stat line if you ask me.
5. Kawaan Short (Purdue)- Like Datone Jones, Short had an impressive Senior Bowl weekend. His ability to take on double teams while shedding blockers and stop the run is invaluable. With the 49ers losing NT Isaac Sopoaga via free-agency, the 49er quickly resolved that issue with NT Glenn Dorsey, however they need more fire power and Short will provide another big body down in the trenches.