49ers must avoid this edge prospect at all costs after 2024 NFL Combine

The Niners don't need to waste draft capital on developmental edge rushers.

Kansas edge Austin Booker at the NFL Combine
Kansas edge Austin Booker at the NFL Combine / Michael Hickey/GettyImages
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Kansas edge Austin Booker enters draft season as a raw prospect, but his 2024 NFL Combine performance should deter the 49ers from drafting him.

It seems cliche to say this on almost a yearly basis, but the San Francisco 49ers have to ace their 2024 NFL Draft class.

With an aging and ever-expensive roster, one that'll soon have to absorb what'll be a massive contract extension for quarterback Brock Purdy beginning in 2025, general manager John Lynch and Co. will have to hit on as many of their 11 scheduled draft picks as possible, thereby taking advantage of those cheap rookie contracts for the next four years.

San Francisco doesn't have an overwhelming number of needs in this year's draft, which is good. But the team could stand to add another long-term pass-rusher to pair with All-Pro Nick Bosa. And getting pass-rushing depth is certainly a boost, too.

Could someone like Kansas edge Austin Booker be in the mix?

Certainly. Booker has already interviewed with the 49ers, announced at the 2024 NFL Scouting Combine. So, there has to be at least some modest interest there.

But, following Booker's not-so-impressive combine workouts, paired with how notably raw of a prospect he is entering draft season, the Niners probably want to avoid using any draft capital on him whatsoever.

Austin Booker underwhelms at NFL Combine, 49ers should steer clear

Booker is certainly one of the more provocative edge-rushing prospects in this year's NFL Draft class.

The 6-foot-6, 240-pound transfer from Minnesota certainly put up the numbers in his lone year with the Jayhawks, tallying eight sacks and 12 tackles for a loss despite starting only one game during his collegiate career.

But, it's important to note he was merely a situational pass-rusher at the college level with only 505 career snaps, and he will need to add more functional weight in order to adequately compete at the NFL level.

Then, the NFL Combine happened.

Booker was initially anticipated to run in the 4.6s in the 40-yard dash but clocked in at a relatively sluggish 4.79, which might not be awful for many outside pass-rushers but certainly was underwhelming for someone with his kind of frame.

He also had a lackluster 32.5-inch vertical and opted out of agility drills, which will only hinder his draft stock.

Possibly a day-three draft target, a team like the Niners can only afford to go after him if he somehow slips late into the very last rounds. Even then, they'd be wise to use those late-round picks on players who'd have the best possibility of making the 53-man roster right away.

Considering the need to hit on other prospects who have an excellent chance of being cornerstone pieces for the next few years, Booker is shifting more toward a developmental prospect only.

San Francisco should pass.

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