2016 NFL Draft: Five High-Risk, High-Reward Prospects for 49ers
By Jerod Brown
Alex McCalister-EDGE-University of Florida
The 49ers currently have Aaron Lynch penciled in as a starter at outside linebacker, but the other side is slightly less settled.
The team could opt to start Ahmad Brooks or recently-drafted sophomore Eli Harold. The 49ers have even suggested that Tank Carradine could have an opportunity to play at outside linebacker.
Regardless of who earns the starting nod, the team will likely be selecting an EDGE defender in the 2016 NFL Draft. If they decide to address other needs early, one player that could be of interest is Florida’s Alex McCalister.
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McCalister is long–he’s 6’6″ with 36″ arms–but he’ll need to bulk up if he has any hope of cracking a starting spot for the 49ers. He’s only 239 pounds and he plays thin at the point of attack. As a Florida Gator, McCalister amassed 12.5 sacks over two years, despite limited playing time.
He ended his junior season injured and reports surfaced at the end of the year that he was dismissed from the team altogether, leading to his declaration for the 2016 NFL Draft as an early-entrant. He was suspended for the first game of the 2015 season for violation of team rules and his second suspension, earned at the end of the season, was likely what led to his dismissal.
McCalister showed flashes of impressive play during his time at Florida. The initial burst he shows off of the line is tremendous, evident in his short shuttle drill time at the 2016 NFL Combine. He ran it in four seconds flat.
For reference, Leonard Floyd, University of Georgia’s linebacker and a projected first-round pick, ran it in 4.32 seconds. McCalister is nearly the same size and ran the drill three tenths of a second faster. That’s impressive.
Much of McCalister’s issues stem from the fact that he doesn’t have enough bulk to his frame and will need to get bigger if he plans on becoming anything more than a one-trick pony on the edge. He gets washed easily at the point-of-attack in the run game and struggles to pair multiple moves together as a pass-rusher.
His one move is impressive, though. He’s at the top of the screen as a defensive end over the right tackle.
The 49ers could draft McCalister in the sixth round of the draft and let him spend a year getting bigger and getting his apparent issues sorted out. Although the reasons weren’t clear, suspensions and a dismissal don’t look good.
The reward of a long-armed and rangy outside linebacker is in direct conflict with the risk of taking another guy with character issues.
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