5 defensive NFL Draft prospects 49ers must have atop big board

Houston Cougars cornerback Marcus Jones (8) Mandatory Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports
Houston Cougars cornerback Marcus Jones (8) Mandatory Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports /
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Boye Mafe, Coran Taylor, Minnesota Golden Gophers, Illinois Fighting Illini
Minnesota Golden Gophers defensive lineman Boye Mafe (34) sacks Illinois Fighting Illini quarterback Coran Taylor (7) Mandatory Credit: Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports /

852. Scouting Report. EDGE. Minnesota. player. Pick Analysis. Boye Mafe. 4

No. 4 player on 49ers defensive NFL Draft big board: EDGE Boye Mafe, Minnesota

It’s a good year to be in need of a pass-rusher in the 2022 NFL Draft. And while there are only a few clear-cut studs in this year’s class (and those will be long gone by the time the Niners select), there are nevertheless plenty of solid edge rushers to be had from late in Round 1 all the way through the latter stages of day three.

San Francisco would like to pair a complementary pass-rusher with Pro Bowl EDGE Nick Bosa this offseason, and it sure doesn’t look like oft-injured EDGE Dee Ford will ever come back, and the remaining crop of options are rotational at best.

There are plenty of potential fits for the 49ers here, but one player who’ll probably either wind up selected late in Round 1 or at least by the halfway point of Round 2 is Minnesota EDGE Boye Mafe, who steadily showed improvement and prowess over his collegiate tenure.

Boye Mafe 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 Minnesota Big Ten FR DL 6 7 5 12 0.5 0.5 0 0 0 1 0 0
*2019 Minnesota Big Ten SO DL 7 8 6 14 3.5 3.0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2020 Minnesota Big Ten JR DL 6 18 9 27 5.5 4.5 0 0 0 2 0 2
*2021 Minnesota Big Ten SR DL 12 26 8 34 10.0 7.0 0 0 0 0 0 1
Career Minnesota 59 28 87 19.5 15.0 0 0 0 3 0 3

Provided by CFB at Sports Reference
Generated 4/13/2022.

At 6-foot-3 and 255 pounds, Mafe is the definition of a speed rusher, which has been a point of emphasis for the Niners defensive line since the slowish group that graced the field in 2020.

He’ll still need some polish and shouldn’t anchor a team’s No. 1 outside pass-rusher spot.

Luckily for San Francisco, it already has Bosa to do that, making Boye a top target if he falls late in the second round.