Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Taylor's (No. 98) powerful arms enabled this tackle pictured above.
Note: These two selections played defensive end in college. If taken by the 49ers, however, they would convert to outside linebacker in the 3-4 scheme.
David Bass, Missouri Western State
6’4’’, 263 Pounds, 4.76-Second 40
We’ll just end the silliness right there.
Bass destroyed his Division II foes for the entirety of an illustrious four-year career. He set a school record with 56 tackles for loss and tied another MWS record with 39.5 total sacks.
He demonstrated that productivity in practice this week as well. Per CBS Sports’ Dane Brugler (via NFLDraftScout.com):
He didn't look out of place with the quickness and hand strength to defeat blocks and find his way to the ball-carrier. Bass has room to refine his pass rush moves to be more effective, but he flashed in practice why he was able to be so productive in college.
Eric Galco added that Bass was “the most consistently dominating defender all week” (h/t OptimumScouting.com).
The Gene Upshaw D-II Lineman of the Year finalist is a menacing force with blazing speed. He played defensive end in college but projects as a lethal pass-rushing OLB in a 3-4 system.
Better yet, he’s also being compared to a current 49er with an equal obsession for living in the backfield and owning the lives of opposing quarterbacks.
See: Aldon Smith, 6’4’’, 258 pounds, 4.74-second 40
While Smith played at D-I Missouri, both are similarly freakish athletes who manned the DE position. They utilize their length, quickness and sheer strength when relentlessly pursuing the opposition’s ball-carriers.
San Francisco’s coaching staff clearly worked magic in Smith’s conversion to outside backer. There isn’t any reason why it couldn’t do so again with an athlete who produced bigger numbers at the collegiate level.
No matter if Bass doesn’t blossom to the full extent of Smith’s status as a three-down linebacker. Pure pass-rushers are becoming one of the most important positions on the field in a pass-happy NFL.
We’ll leave you with a You Tube clip of this gridiron mega-beast.
Devin Taylor, South Carolina
6’7’’, 275 Pounds, 4.79-Second 40
Taylor’s physical traits would seem commensurate, if not superior to the defensive end before him.
His cumulative statistics at South Carolina would also place him near the conversation, notably with his 35.5 TFL, nine pass breakups and two interception-return touchdowns.
However, Taylor is another example of unrealized talent thrown into the lot of generally inferior players at the East-West Shrine Game.
His production fell off the board considerably following a stellar sophomore campaign. Aside from total tackles, all categories experienced a statistical decline.
Most disconcerting was the fact that Taylor played opposite superstar talent Jadeveon Clowney. Rob Rang notes that he simply played too stiff due to a lack of flexibility, both leading to improper positioning in pursuit of ball-carriers.
So, with all this negativity, why are we discussing him?
Because Taylor has a motor that just won’t quit. He still possesses the length, power, physicality and straight-line speed coveted by NFL coaches for the DE position (h/t Brugler of NFLDraftScout.com).
During East-West practices, Taylor displayed toughness and proficiency in both run- and pass-rushing drills. He set the edge, moved well upfield and utilized a fierce bull rush.
Pro scouts Galko and Steve Muench each wrote eloquently on the subject.
BR’s Michael Schottey detected some legitimate NFL potential as well.
Ultimately, Taylor is an underachieving prospect who, with quality NFL coaching, could develop into a quality NFL pass-rusher, if not complete outside linebacker.
And if he falls as far in the draft as many scouts feel he will, we can envision a few 49er coaches saying, “Heck yes!”
Or something to that effect.