Draft The DE Position- 01/08/2000
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One of the first areas the 49ers will be looking to improve through the draft is the defensive end position. The 49ers suffered dearly from not having a strong pass rush this season. Quarterbacks had too much time to throw against the 49ers defense. The 49ers were happy with the play of just two defensive linemen, tackles Bryant Young and Jr. Bryant and were especially unhappy with the performances of ends Gabe Wilkins, Marvin Washington, and Charles Haley.

Last season the 49ers also looked to upgrade the defensive line via the draft by acquiring rookies Reggie McGrew DT and Chike Okeafor DE. Due to injury McGrew did not make it onto the field once this season. Okeafor on the other hand did get some playing time, and showed flashes of brilliances in the few chances he had. The original plans for Okeafor were to have him as a pass rush specialist because he is a little undersized. The 49ers feel the return of these two players will help their line, and if McGrew lives up to expectation, it should result in the move of Jr. Bryant to defensive end. With Okeafor only in on passing downs the 49ers will be looking for a player that can generate a strong rush and be an every down player if needed.

The 49ers have several options available to them via the draft. If the 49ers elect to draft a DE with their first pick in the draft, third over all, it will most likely be the 6'4" and 265 pounds. Courtney Brown. Brown is clearly top 5 talent. He is large, quick (4.7 in the 40) and has long arms. In the past two seasons at Penn St. Brown has recorded 27 sacs, 108 tackles and 56 of those tackles were for a loss of yardage. Brown would jump right into the 49ers defensive line if he was picked, and would probably contribute greatly.

If the 49ers want to try and trade down from the number three position they could look to pick up Darren Howard in the later first round. Howard is 6'3" end from Kansas state and probably the second best in the draft. Howard has good speed and size but is a little raw in talent. Howard is a very balanced player with the ability to play the run and pass equally well. Expect Howard to be drafted between the 15 and 23 spot.

Shaun Ellis, of Tennessee is 6'4", 265 pounds and is quite quick. Ellis has good speed around the corner and is quite strong. His toughness and agility will combine to make him a fine player in the NFL. Ellis is likely to be a low first round pick or high second round pick.

The 49ers other options are John Engelberger of Virginia Tech. He stands 6'4" 270 pounds and has shown toughness at the collegiate level. Engelberger is consistent and plays hard every down. Engelberger has the physical skills to be a good player at the NFL level but may not ever be a star player for the 49ers.

Adewale Ogunleye of Indiana is 6-4, 265 pounds and would be another option for the 9ers. He is an athletic player and has been quite consistent at the college level. He has size, speed and is quite strong. However he missed some of the college season with a knee injury that he is currently rehabilitating. The 49ers may not want to risk drafting another injured player but if Ogunleye drops to the third round the 9ers may jump to get him.

The 49ers obviously have several options at this position. The defensive end position is one of the deeper positions in this seasonís draft, but is not a huge talent pool. If the 49ers select Courtney Brown with the third pick in the draft, it is unlikely that they will draft another defensive lineman; however, if they draft any other player look for the 9ers to draft two or more defensive lineman. The added pass rush will benefit the defensive pass coverage greatly and luckily the 49ers will benefit from both last years and this years draft along the defensive line.
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