It's time for what is arguably my favorite article series of the year. We've gathered a star-studded panel to answer six pressing questions regarding the 2018 NFL Draft that could have an impact on the San Francisco 49ers.
There's no better place to start than a look at this year's top edge rushers. It's a foregone conclusion that N.C. State's Bradley Chubb will be the first guy off the board. But who's next? My overall takeaway from the analysts is that while there are some intriguing names, taking one with the ninth-overall pick may be a reach. There's obviously the chance that the 49ers fall in love with one of these guys, but in all likelihood, these prospects would only come into play if San Francisco traded down in the first round.
I want to share a sincere thank you to each draft expert who took the time to be a part of this year's panel. With that, here's their analysis.
Daniel Jeremiah, NFL.com: Marcus Davenport, UTSA
"I think there's a little bit of a gap after Chubb. Marcus Davenport is pretty intriguing there from UTSA. I got a chance to see what he brings to the table at the Senior Bowl. You're probably looking at him going in the top 15. Taking him at No. 9 where the Niners are would be a bit too early. In the second round, Kemoko Turay from Rutgers is a really good football player. He's interesting and can really bend around the edge. Sam Hubbard from Ohio State is kind of a hybrid – is he an outside linebacker or is he a hand-in-the-ground defensive end? He's another one I'd keep an eye on."
Matt Miller, Bleacher Report: Marcus Davenport, UTSA
"I'll go with Marcus Davenport. It's a lot of projection, but guys with his athletic traits and size are pretty rare. You might have to go back to a Jadeveon Clowney or Aldon Smith to find someone who can do the things he can do athletically. The rub is that he's just not there. He's going to take some development. You hope that he can get on the field early on. The physical tools that he has puts him ahead of Harold Landry."
Matt Bowen, ESPN: Marcus Davenport, UTSA
"This isn't a class that's loaded with edge rushers. I'd go with Landry or Davenport. At this point I'll go with Davenport because of the higher ceiling. He ran a 4.58-second 40-yard dash. I've watched his tape, and he's still a little raw in terms of his technique. There are other times when he completely takes over the play. He runs to the football. He plays extremely hard. He plays with energy. That's another player, if I'm a coach, that I can't wait to work with."
Dane Brugler, NFL Draft Scout: Harold Landry, Boston College
"I think the answer is either Davenport or Landry. Davenport has the better upside because he's still trying to figure out how to use his tools to piece together an efficient pass-rush sequence. Landry is a little more proven. He led the nation in sacks and forced fumbles as a junior. He's had some hiccups in the run game. He also needs to stay healthy. That was his issue as a senior. But he's cut from the same cloth as a Vic Beasley-type of rusher. I would lead Harold Landry right now, although Davenport has the better upside."
Rob Rang, NFL Draft Scout: Marcus Davenport, UTSA
"Marcus Davenport has the highest upside. He's the most exciting in terms of his length, his burst and his untapped potential. We saw what he could do at the Senior Bowl and the combine. He's the player I'm most excited about. If you're looking for a guy who is going to come in and play at a competent level immediately, I think Sam Hubbard is probably that guy. He doesn't have the upside of Davenport. His size and strength will allow him to play defensive end in a 4-3 immediately."