With the Senior Bowl having concluded, the next big event in the NFL draft season is the Combine. In the run up to the Combine, and throughout the draft season, we at Nothing But Niners will continue to produce Need to Know pieces on draft prospects 49ers fans need to be aware of. This week, we bring you an assortment of players whose performances at the Senior Bowl earned them greater attention, in addition to two players whose stock is going in opposite directions.

Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech

  • Height: 6’5″
  • Weight: 250 LBS

The 2-time ACC, 3rd-team All-American (2017), Virgina Tech linebacker has been mocked to the 49ers lately by many NFL analysts and the pick makes sense, as SF is essentially depleted at the linebacker position after Reuben Foster. Edmunds is a fantastic tackler (219 career tackles) that is also able to diagnose plays very quickly — and he’s only 19 years old! He has a hell of a knack of causing fumbles, which is a trait any defensive coordinator would love to have. The only issue that arises when discussing Edmunds is: where to put him? Some believe his ideal position would be the “Leo”, primarily focused on rushing the passer. Some feel he is best suited at SAM linebacker (especially in SF), but in the Myles Jack mould, rather than Eli Harold. Edmunds would play some snaps on the line of scrimmage as an edge setter, whilst also being able to drop back into coverage on passing plays. Edmunds possesses the length to be a potential edge setter (but may lack strength out of the gate) and certainly possesses the movement skills to drop in coverage. Unlike current SAM linebacker Harold, Edmunds would stay on the field in nickel and presumed WILL starter Malcolm Smith would likely head off. Lastly, some feel he is best at MIKE or WILL, as a pure off ball linebacker. Edmunds’ versatility is certainly what makes him so attractive as an option, but also difficult to pin down when it comes to projecting where he should be drafted.

Wherever you feel is best suited for Edmunds, one thing is clear — if the biggest problem surrounding him is ‘where do we put him’ then chances are the problem isn’t that big to begin with. Does he have some flaws? Sure he does! However, this kid also has all the talent needed to become a star in the NFL. A linebacking core of Tremaine Edmunds, Reuben Foster and Malcolm Smith wouldn’t bode too badly for me.

Harold Landry, DE, Boston College

  • Height: 6’3″
  • Weight: 250 LBS

The Boston College defensive end has shown tremendous burst when coming off the edge. As the last few seasons have proved, the 49ers desperately need a top-tier pass-rusher. They cannot keep going season after season with no true threat generating repeated pressure on the quarterback. Enter: Harold Landry. Despite an ankle injury causing Landry to only play eight games in the 2017 season, he still totalled 38 total tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss and 5 sacks! The 49ers have been plagued by a lack of sacks  for what seems like an eternity. Well, a solution just presented himself out of Boston College. Landry could come in and be the 49ers LEO right off the bat and if he’s fully healthy, his stock could start to rise again with a solid Combine performance after falling over the past five months or so. Landry is arguably the best pure pass rusher in the draft with his explosiveness and bend and is an ideal fit in San Francisco.

Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller had this to say about Landry:

“Harold Landry is a fantastic edge-rusher with the speed and agility to dip and bend around the corner. At 6’3″, 250 pounds, he might not fit the size profile every scout likes, but has the quickness to be a threat off the right side.”

 

Alex Cappa, OT, Humboldt State

  • Height: 6’5″
  • Weight: 299 LBS

Alex Cappa was one of the hottest names last week at the Senior Bowl. Honestly, it was something I saw repeatedly on Twitter coming out of the reporters that were in Mobile. It’s been 27 years since Humboldt State has had a player drafted into the NFL, but Cappa is definitely going to break that streak come April! In all four seasons of college ball, he won the Great Northwest Athletic Conferences’ Offensive Lineman of the Year, plus unanimous 1st-team All-American! Cappa would be a great addition to the 49ers offensive line. He could line up at guard or tackle in the NFL, and whilst he does need refining, is an excellent mid-round prospect who could surprise a few and establish himself as a starter in the NFL right out of the gate.

 

Rashaad Penny, RB, San Diego State

  • Height: 5’11”
  • Weight: 220 LBS

Penny topped 1,000 rushing yards in his junior year, but he followed that with a 2,000 yard rushing season in his senior year at San Diego State. He has a big frame that he uses to power through defenders — he’s not going down easily. Penny proved himself on the national stage while at the Senior Bowl (9 carries, 64 yards & 73-yard TD reception). He also finished the game as the South’s Co-MVP. Penny has some speed as well — finishing as the 5th-fastest running back with a max speed of 18.61 MPH. The 49ers would set themselves up in a very good position at running back with Rashaad Penny and Matt Breida, even if Carlos Hyde walks. Penny has more versatility than Hyde, particularly as a pass catcher and possesses high calibre vision. He would excel in the 49ers’ zone scheme.

Derek Togerson of NBC San Diego said:

“At the Senior Bowl Rashaad Penny proved what we in San Diego already knew: he’s the best running back in the nation.”

 

DJ Chark, WR, Louisiana State

  • Height: 6’4″
  • Weight: 198 LBS

Talk about absolutely killing it at the Senior Bowl — DJ Chark finished the game with: 5 receptions on 7 targets, 160 yards (with receptions of 75 (TD) and 63) and 1 touchdown. Chark was also named the South’s Co-MVP. However, the bright part of his day was making a tackle on special teams. Chark said:

“I said I really want to make plays on special teams. I finally got my first tackle. And that’s the highlight of my day right there. I told everybody on kickoff, ‘If I get one kickoff, I was going to make the tackle.’ And I was able to do it!”

However Chark can also takeover the game on the other end of special teams — receiving punts and kickoffs. In a 27-23 win over Auburn earlier in the season, he had a 75-yard punt return in a game where he finished with 5 receptions for 150 yards!

Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller said of the Louisiana State wide receiver:

“DJ Chark with a ton of burst. Dude is SUDDEN. Will be better in the NFL than he was at LSU.”

There’s no hiding that the 49ers are top-heavy when it comes to their wide receiver position. After Marquise Goodwin and Pierre Garçon, there is a lot unproven. Sure there was promise shown from rookie receivers Trent Taylor and Kendrick Bourne, but there’s always room for another talented pass-catcher. Especially with a quarterback that can spread the ball as well as Jimmy Garoppolo can. Possessing special teams ability will help Chark get in the door, but don’t be surprised if he excels as a receiver in the NFL. He’s well built, fast and dangerous with the ball in hand. Chark isn’t Odell Beckham Jr. but he would be a valuable Day 2 addition to the 49ers’ wide receiver room.