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49ers bolster D-line in latest NFL.com mock draft

Apr 22, 2024 at 10:35 AM



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While most expect the San Francisco 49ers to target an offensive lineman with their first-round pick, NFL Media lead draft writer Eric Edholm has the team going in another direction with the No. 31 overall pick. In his final mock draft of the year, Edholm has the team selecting former Illinois defensive tackle Jer'Zhan Newton, who also goes by "Johnny."

"If you're worried Newton's skill set overlaps too much with that of Javon Hargrave, consider that Hargrave is set to hit the salary cap at more than $28 million in the 2025 season -- when he'll be 32 years old," Edholm explained. "As a relentless scheme-wrecker, Newton would help alleviate the Niners' need for pressure. The DT class drops off noticeably after this."

Pairing Newton with Hargrave this season would make sense after the 49ers parted ways with veteran Arik Armstead. San Francisco has an out on Hargrave's contract after the 2024 season, before his $28 million and nearly $30 million salary-cap hits during the ensuing two seasons come into play.

Newton registered 52 tackles, including 8.5 for a loss, a career-high 7.5 sacks, two passes defensed, and a forced fumble through 12 game appearances as a senior in 2023, per Sports Reference.

Throughout his four collegiate seasons, he recorded 187 tackles, including 27.5 for a loss, 18 sacks, five passes defensed, and two forced fumbles.

While the 49ers traded for Maliek Collins and signed free agent Jordan Elliott, the team will likely look to add a defensive tackle sometime during the draft.
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