With the 2018 draft season rapidly approaching we asked the Faithful to choose the top two college prospects they would like drafted by the 49ers. Almost unanimously Bradley Chubb the edge rusher out of NC State and Quenton Nelson the guard from Notre Dame were the choices.
The 49ers are in dire need of a pure edge rusher; they currently depend on veteran Elvis Dumervil, who has done a good job but he cannot carry the burden alone for much longer. This is why Chubb would make sense, as the consensus top edge rusher in the draft at this current moment in time. There’s also a huge need along the interior of the offensive line, where it would appear that Nelson would fit seamlessly. Eric Crocker will present his case for drafting Chubb, whilst I (Stewart Mathurin) will be presenting the case for Nelson, a player I am a huge fan of.
The case for Nelson:
Though I have watched many of Nelson’s games through his college career, I have focussed on six of his games this season to help make my judgement, six games which have reinforced my belief that Nelson is the perfect man for the 49ers in the first round. Nelson, a senior, has excelled in college football and was nominated this year for the Outland Trophy (college football’s best interior lineman). Two years ago, 49ers’ guard Joshua Garnett was the winner of the award, whilst last year the award went to Houston’s defensive lineman Ed Oliver. Nelson was also chosen as a unanimous All-American.
At 6’5 330 pounds, Nelson has caught my attention for his power in the run game and smoothness in pass protection. He did not give up a single sack this season, a feat all the more impressive when you consider the ferocious defenses the Fighting Irish faced, such as Miami and USC (the team that leads the nation in sacks). Furthermore, Nelson has shown impressive durability and is a leader who will enhance the 49ers’ offensive line immensely – we’ve all seen the hits and pressures CJ Beathard and apparent franchise savior Jimmy Garoppolo have been suffering. In a division where Michael Bennett, Frank Clark, Aaron Donald and Markus Golden reside the 49ers cannot afford to take any chances with the health of our franchise quarterback. As fans, we are all tired of struggling to run the ball with any consistency along with sub-par pass blocking by some of our offensive linemen and it is absolutely time to do something about it having added Garoppolo.
Additionally, our defense will benefit from a better offensive line, thanks to being kept off the field by a more consistent rushing attack and the ability to sustain drives. How will the Red Bank Catholic HS alum help with that? He destroys people in the run game, earning a 92.7 season run grade from Pro Football Focus. He was part of an amazing Notre Dame rushing attack this year.
Quenton Nelson is a rare dude. pic.twitter.com/aTpqhVMbuc
— Lance Zierlein (@LanceZierlein) December 6, 2017
It’s not all about run blocking with Nelson though, he’s amazing in pass protection. From 436 pass blocking snaps this season he gave up just 3 pressures PFF.
There simply can be no doubt that Nelson is a hugely impressive offensive lineman. It is rare for an offensive guard to go extremely high in the draft, but when they do it’s because they’re special. Zach Martin, Brandon Scherff and David DeCastro are examples of first round guards. These three players are Pro Bowlers, helping to anchor impressive offensive lines and Nelson is this kind of high-end prospect. Drafting Nelson can go a long way to fixing our below average interior offensive line.
Nelson is an elite talent and is arguably the best in the nation regardless of position. Combining him with Trent Brown and the evergreen Joe Staley will give Jimmy Garoppolo a platform to excel throwing the football whilst staying upright. I’m hopeful this will get you excited about the potential of us drafting an offensive guard in the top ten. Others out there will want to talk you into drafting a fourth straight defensive lineman in the first round or state that we’ve drafted Joshua Garnett in the first round. Well Garnett we haven’t seen for an extended period Because of injury, there’s also information out there about him changing his body type. He’s changing his body type because he doesn’t fit the current scheme, coming out of college majority of pre draft evaluations had him fitting a power running scheme because his game is based around power and not finesse or nimbleness. There’s a legitimate chance that he doesn’t work out, it would be counterproductive to hedge our run game and Quarterbacks protection on Garnett. Don’t buy it Faithful, it’s time to help Kyle Shanahan and the offense by selecting Quenton Nelson.
The case for Chubb:
There is a saying, “to consistently win you need a quarterback, someone to protect the quarterback and someone to get after the quarterback.”
After acquiring Jimmy Garoppolo for a second round pick, the 49ers addressed their quarterback situation. So about those other two positions. The 49ers seem set at tackle but have struggle along the interior of the offensive line. At guard, 49ers have seen mixed play after the training camp injury to Joshua Garnett. They traded to acquire Laken Tomlinson, who has generally struggled but had decent play by Brandon Fusco at the other guard spot. Unsurprisingly, the name Quenton Nelson has been thrown around as an ideal candidate to reinforce the interior of the 49ers’ offensive line.
However, with Fusco being ranked the 18th best guard in the NFL per PFF and Garnett (a 2016 first round pick) coming back into the fold, should the 49ers really spend a pick at guard? After all, with over $100 million in cap space and guys like Andrew Norwell from the Panthers available, why not just pay a free agent guard and see what you have in Garnett? That seems a reasonable investment in protecting your quarterback and represents an alternative . way to address the interior offensive line.
Conversely, you can’t normally acquire a big time, legitimate edge rusher in free agency, so the 49ers will be unable to solve their dearth of players who get after the quarterback. Teams don’t typically let those guys walk unless they believe them to be over the hill. You can acquire guys that bring some production (such as Elvis Dumervil) but the 49ers need a long term, starting calibre solution for the LEO spot.
As such, the obvious choice for the 49ers with their first pick in the draft is Bradley Chubb. The 6’4”, 275 pounder is all-time sack leader from North Carolina State, which is extremely impressive considering former number one overall draft pick Mario Williams attended this school as well. I understand most people do not want to see the 49ers address defense line for the 4th straight year but none of the previous guys (Armstead, Buckner, Thomas) were pure edge rushers.
Chubb is a big, do-it-all athletic end, with great bend and hands. His selection not only helps the front seven but also helps a young secondary. Along with the pressure Chubb gets on quarterbacks, he also is great against the run with 26 tackles for loss which ranks him second in all of college football. The 49ers defense is definitely trending upward with guys like Buckner, Foster and Ahkello Witherspoon but are undoubtedly missing the critical guy to get after the quarterback. The 49ers are currently 26th in the league in sacks. The lack of sacks and consistent pressure has made the job on the defensive backs much harder. The 49ers are near last on passes defensed and interceptions. A defensive back’s best friend is a great pass rusher, and the addition of Chubb would go and long way towards solving several of our issues defending the pass. So goodbye to the days of Arik Armstead playing LEO. Or 50 year old pass rusher Elvis Dumervil leading the team in sacks.. and say hello to a generational defensive end in Bradley Chubb.