49ers NFL Draft: 5 prospects who could be Day 1 starters in 2022

Kerby Joseph #25 of the Illinois Fighting Illini (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)
Kerby Joseph #25 of the Illinois Fighting Illini (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images) /
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Arnold Ebiketie, Penn State Nittany Lions
Arnold Ebiketie #17 of the Penn State Nittany Lions (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) /

EDGE. Penn State. 806. player. Scouting Report. Pick Analysis. Arnold Ebiketie. 1

49ers prospect No. 1: EDGE Arnold Ebiketie, Penn State

San Francisco has a lot of decent supplementary pass-rushers heading into 2021, such as Jordan Willis, Samson Ebukam and the recently returned Kerry Hyder.

Aside from Pro Bowl EDGE Nick Bosa, it wholly lacks an upper-echelon option.

Good thing the 2022 NFL Draft has plenty of high-end pass-rushing prospects, even a good number of options in the middle rounds who’d be enticing. While there are few home-run, no-brainer pass-rushers in this year’s draft, there are nevertheless options for every scheme and fit up and down the first five rounds or so.

One of those who broke out in a big way last year after transferring from Temple was Penn State EDGE Arnold Ebiketie, whose production alone suggests he found the right home to finish off his collegiate career:

Arnold Ebiketie Defense & Fumbles Table
Tackles Def Int Fumbles
Year School Conf Class Pos G Solo Ast Tot Loss Sk Int Yds Avg TD PD FR Yds TD FF
*2018 Temple American FR DE 3 4 0 4 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0
*2019 Temple American SO DE 7 9 3 12 2.0 2.0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2020 Temple American JR DE 6 28 14 42 8.5 4.0 0 0 0 0 1 1 3
*2021 Penn State Big Ten SR DE 12 34 28 62 18.0 9.5 0 0 0 1 0 2
Career Overall 75 45 120 28.5 15.5 0 0 0 1 1 1 5
Temple 41 17 58 10.5 6.0 0 0 0 0 1 1 3
Penn State 34 28 62 18.0 9.5 0 0 0 1 0 2

Provided by CFB at Sports Reference
Generated 4/8/2022.

The 6-foot-2, 250-pound Ebiketie is slippery. Despite his relatively smallish size, his work in the pass-rush department is in the speed game and not by overpowering blockers.

So, why would Ebiketie be considered a starter? And would he slip down into Round 2?

For starters, he might be a SAM-hybrid sort of player on base downs, staying on the strong side of the formation, then likely moving to the weak side on passing downs and allowing Bosa to exploit greater mismatches on the opposite end.

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It’s anyone’s guess whether or not Ebiketie falls. Like so many other prospects in this year’s draft, it’s awfully fluid after the first 10 selections or so, and a player projected to be taken in the 20s could easily slip late into the second round.

And vice versa.

At any rate, Ebiketie might be a nice fit for a variety of defensive roles, but he’d primarily help Bosa out. The Niners need that.

Next. 49ers' 15 best first-round NFL Draft picks of all time. dark