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Insiders identify late risers who 49ers could target in NFL Draft

Apr 19, 2024 at 7:38 AM

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With the 2024 NFL Draft less than a week away, ESPN contributors have highlighted some prospects who have seen their draft stock rise throughout the evaluation process. Jordan Reid and Matt Miller pinpointed players who could hear their names called at the end of the first round.

Interestingly, both of the prospects identified by Reid and Miller play in the trenches but on different sides of the ball. The San Francisco 49ers are widely expected to draft an offensive lineman with their first selection—No. 31 overall. The team mostly ignored the group in free agency. However, it wouldn't surprise many people if the 49ers pivoted toward a defensive lineman, even after revamping the group in free agency with the addition of Leonard Floyd and several others.

Reid singles out former BYU offensive tackle Kingsley Suamataia, noting his increasing momentum as draft day approaches. Given their needs, the 49ers are seen as a fitting landing spot for Suamataia.

An AFC executive told Reid, "He's athletic, experienced at both tackle spots and will be 21 throughout his rookie year. Sign me up for that in the first round any day of the week!"

Suamataia transferred to BYU after one season at Oregon. He started 23 games with the Cougars over the last two seasons, playing both tackle positions.

"He seemingly has all of the traits that scouts covet, as he plays with suddenness, power and awareness," Reid wrote. "Suamataia -- ranked No. 37 on my board -- just has to get stronger and play with more consistent technique. At the back end of the first round, the Ravens (No. 30) and 49ers (No. 31) are two landing spots that make a lot of sense."

Meanwhile, Miller identifies former Western Michigan pass rusher Marshawn Kneeland as a potential late first-round option for the 49ers, believing the player has shown the traits to earn himself a jump into the first round of the draft.

"Every year, there is a player who rises into Round 1 based on scheme fit and team need," Miller wrote. "This year, my bet is on that being Kneeland. The 6-foot-3, 267-pound senior had 36 pressures in 2023 and a very strong pre-draft process at the Senior Bowl and combine. His size, strength and run-defending abilities make him one of the few true 4-3 defensive ends ranked in my top 50 (No. 48). And Kneeland could be a target for teams like Tampa Bay, Buffalo or even San Francisco late in Round 1."


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