49ers NFL Draft 2021: 5 ‘boom or bust’ prospects to worry about

Gregory Rousseau #15 of the Miami Hurricanes (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
Gregory Rousseau #15 of the Miami Hurricanes (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /
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Walker Little, Stanford Cardinal
Walker Little #72 of the Stanford Cardinal (Photo by David Madison/Getty Images) /

Walker Little. 2. player. 871. . Offensive Tackle. Cardinal

49ers Boom-or-Bust Risk No. 2: OT Walker Little, Stanford

Scouts are a bit all over the place when it comes to evaluating Stanford offensive tackle Walker Little. Some see him as a potential late first-round target, while others are viewing him as a third- or even a fourth-round option.

Given 49ers general manager John Lynch’s connections to Stanford, one can’t automatically cross Little off the Niners’ interest list. Sure, San Francisco re-signed left tackle Trent Williams to a long-term deal. But there’s a potential question mark at right tackle with Mike McGlinchey possibly being a free agent in 2022, depending on his fifth-year option being exercised.

The 49ers may want a long-term replacement for McGlinchey anyway, and Little does make sense from a scheme-fit standpoint.

But there are a tremendous amount of concerns.

Little started all 13 games for the Cardinal in 2018. Yet one week into the 2019 season, Little suffered a torn ACL and missed the rest of the year. Then in 2020, Little elected to opt out amid the global pandemic, meaning that lone contest in 2019 is the last bit of game tape scouts have on the 6-foot-7, 313-pound prospect.

The injury concern is already there, but it’s mostly overshadowed by the fact Little has missed so much time since his last game played. Nothing makes up for the amount of actual on-field reps, and Little will have a long way to go to proverbially “shake the rust off.”

The Niners could be patient here, yes, but the 2021 draft has plenty of other NFL-ready talents for the offensive line anyway.