NBC Sports Bay Area will preview the NFL Draft with a look at the 49ers’ top needs, profiles of prospects that might fit their needs, along with some hidden gems. In this installment, we examine why the hidden gems on the defensive line the 49ers could target on Day 3.
DeForest Buckner played 810 snaps last year in the regular season as the 49ers’ most-worked defensive lineman.
As the 49ers enter this month's draft, they are not necessarily looking for one player to step in and single-handedly compensate for the loss of Buckner, who was traded to the Indianapolis Colts for the No. 13 overall pick in the draft.
At some point in the draft, the 49ers figure to add a player for defensive line coach Kris Kocurek to mold into a reliable rotational player.
Maybe the 49ers select a starter to play three-technique, Buckner’s old position, on base downs. Perhaps, they bring in a player who enters in nickel situations as an inside pass-rusher. They also could add an edge player to fit into a rotation that includes Nick Bosa and Dee Ford.
Earlier in this series, we looked at defensive tackles Derrick Brown (Auburn) and Javon Kinlaw (South Carolina), who could be options at No. 13 overall. If the 49ers trade back or wait until No. 31, defensive end A.J. Epenesa (Iowa) could be available.
Here are three hidden gems the 49ers could consider in the fourth round or later:
McTelvin Agim, Arkansas
McTelvin Agim (6-foot-3, 309 pounds) who could be available in the fourth round, would compete right away for the starting job to replace Buckner.
He also has some pass-rush skills to develop as he registered six sacks in his first two seasons and 10 sacks in his final two seasons. He earned his spot on the SEC Academic honor roll and was a team captain as a senior.
He played defensive end before making the switch to defensive tackle as a senior. Agim has the kind of versatility that would enable him to fill-in at just about every spot along the defensive line in base situations.
D.J. Wonnum, South Carolina
D.J. Wonnum was named as a team captain as a sophomore and remained in that leadership role for his final three seasons at South Carolina.
Wonnum (6-5, 258) can add more strength and become a three-down player. He has the athletic ability to bend the corner as a pass rusher. His wingspan of 83 ¾ inches is the longest of any of the edge players in the draft.
He does not let up until the whistle blows, which enables him to track down quarterbacks who like to extend plays. In a division with Seattle Seahawks star Russell Wilson and Arizona Cardinals sensation Kyler Murray, that’s a good quality for a 49ers pass-rusher.
Jonah Williams, Weber State
Jonah Williams (6-5, 281) was not invited to the NFL Scouting Combine, but he is on the radars of NFL teams as a late-Day 3 selection. He is coming off a season in which he was the Big Sky Conference’s Defensive Player of the Year after registering 11 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks.
He has good strength and athleticism to develop as an edge player, where he would compete initially for a game-day role as part of the team’s defensive line rotation. Williams could step in and be a backup for base downs as well as nickel pass-rush situations.
He spent two years on a two-year church mission to Sao Paulo, Brazil. His maturity coming into the NFL gives him a chance to make a quick adjustment to the demands of the NFL game.