The San Francisco 49ers have now used a first round pick on a defensive lineman three years in a row. DeForest Buckner (No. 7 overall in 2016) and Solomon Thomas (No. 3 overall in 2017) join Arik Armstead (No. 17 overall in 2015) as San Francisco's trio of Round 1 investments.
Buckner made the Pro Football Writers of America All-Rookie Team after recording six sacks and 73 tackles in 2016. Thomas recorded 8.5 sacks and 14 tackles for loss this past season as a redshirt junior at Stanford. Armstead is recovering from a shoulder injury that caused him to miss a majority of the year.
The three serve as youthful building blocks that have the potential to be longtime cornerstones on San Francisco's defense.
"I think it's going to be exciting to watch these guys mature and grow over the next few years," said Stanford head coach David Shaw during a recent phone interview with 49ers.com. "DeForest is so big and physical and long. What is best about both of them is that they're versatile. They can line up outside. They can line up inside. They're good against the run. They're good against the pass."
Shaw got to know Buckner well during the defensive lineman's four years at Oregon. In 2015, Buckner posted 10 tackles, one tackle for loss and .5 sacks. His 6-foot-7 frame certainly caught the attention of Stanford's head coach.
"DeForest's length is a problem," Shaw said. "You could have him right where you want him, but when he extends those arms, he can just move you off of his body, and he can get from one gap to another.
"Solomon's explosion and quickness and tenacity are exciting. I'm excited to watch those two guys grow."