San Francisco 49ers: Top 5 NFL draft targets after free agency moves

Quarterback Trey Lance #5 of the North Dakota State Bison (Photo by Sam Wasson/Getty Images)
Quarterback Trey Lance #5 of the North Dakota State Bison (Photo by Sam Wasson/Getty Images) /
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Kwity Paye, Michigan Wolverines, SF 49ers
Michigan Wolverines defensive lineman Kwity Paye (19) Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports /

3. player. 811. . EDGE. Wolverines . Kwity Paye

49ers NFL Draft Target No. 3: EDGE Kwity Paye, Michigan

Unlike 2019, when San Francisco landed EDGE Nick Bosa, there’s no clear-cut stud edge rusher in this year’s draft class. There’s a lot of depth, but each one of the pass-rushers in 2021 has some sort of major question mark, making the use of a first-round selection a risky one.

Still, the 49ers have a need here. While Bosa looks to rebound from his 2020 ACL tear, along with the Niners signing Samson Ebukam, the defense still needs a viable replacement for EDGE Dee Ford, whose back injury is likely to keep him out for the start of the upcoming season if not all of it.

And Ebukam is more of a rotational player anyway, meaning San Francisco still has pass-rushing needs despite investing so heavily in this spot in recent seasons.

Michigan EDGE Kwity Paye never put it all together, at least in terms of sack production at the college level, boasting a mere 11.5 sacks over his four years with the Wolverines. But the 6-foot-4, 272-pound defensive end has all the intangibles including great hand usage, speed and strength.

Plus, with someone like Bosa drawing all the attention, Paye should face plenty of one-on-one matchups against weaker blockers.

It would still be a risk. But if San Francisco can hone Paye’s talents right away, he could end up being one of the league’s next pass-rushing standouts.