Grant Cohn: 10 names from combine who have talents 49ers need on defense

The annual prospect evaluation at Indianapolis revealed potential draft picks across all seven rounds.|

On Sunday, I gave you 10 players from the NFL scouting combine who fit the 49ers offense.

Now, I'm giving you 10 players from the combine who fit their defense.

Note: Players who skipped part of the speed testing or agility testing don't qualify. For the purpose of this exercise, those players still are unknowns. We'll learn more about them at their Pro Days.

1. Harold Landry, LEO, Boston College.

Combine results: 6-3, 252 pounds, 24 reps on the bench, 4.64 second 40-yard dash, 1.59-second 10-yard split, 4.19-second 20-yard shuttle, 6.88-second 3-cone drill, 36-inch vertical jump, 119-inch broad jump.

Draft projection: Round 1 or Round 2.

Why Landry fits: Robert Saleh, the 49ers defensive coordinator, is a Pete-Carroll disciple. And Carroll likes to have a small, fast Leo (the weak-side defensive end — the side away from the tight end). Someone low to the ground, able to dip underneath the hands of tall offensive lineman. And someone who can run 10 yards in a flash. Think Von Miller. His 10-yard split at the 2011 Combine was 1.57 seconds. Landry's is 1.59 seconds.

2. Kylie Fitts, LEO, Utah.

Combine results: 6-3, 263 pounds, 31 reps on the bench, 4.69 40, 1.61 split, 4.19 shuttle, 6.88 3-cone, 32.5-inch vert, 117-inch broad.

Draft projection: Round 3 or Round 4.

Why Fitts fits: Because his name is 'Fitts,' and he posted similar numbers as Landry, who will be a late-first round pick or an early-second-round pick. The 49ers can get Fitts much later. He missed 17 games with various injuries the past two seasons. But, he seemed quite healthy at the combine.

3. Hercules Mata'Afa, LEO, Washington State.

Combine results: 6-1, 254 pounds, 26 reps on the bench, 4.76 40, 1.64 split, 4.37 shuttle, 7.24 3-cone, 31.5-inch vert, 108-inch broad.

Draft projection: Round 4 or Round 5.

Why Mata'Afa fits: He embodies the physical profile of a LEO even though he didn't play that position in college. He played defensive tackle, which he can't play in the NFL because he's too small. He'll have to learn a new position, just as Cassius Marsh did when the Seahawks drafted him with a fourth-round pick in 2014. Marsh played defensive tackle in college. Now, he's a LEO for the 49ers.

4. Shaquem Griffin, Weak-side Linebacker, Central Florida.

Combine results: 6-1, 227 pounds, 20 reps on the bench, 4.38 40, 6.88 3-cone.

Draft projection: Round 3 or Round 4.

Why Griffin fits: His numbers are off the charts. He was one of the most athletic players at the combine, and will be one of the best linebackers in the NFL. The only thing he's missing is a left hand — doctors amputated it when he 4. But, he still would be an excellent linebacker for the 49ers, and could start right away on the weak side. He's a bit too small to play middle linebacker, which is Reuben Foster's position.

5. Oren Burks, Middle Linebacker, Vanderbilt.

Combine results: 6-3, 233 pounds, 18 reps on the bench, 4.59 40, 4.15 shuttle, 6.82 3-cone, 39.5-inch vert, 131-inch broad.

Draft projection: Round 6 or Round 7.

Why Burks fits: He's big enough to play in the middle, and fast enough to run sideline to sideline. He could fill in for Foster if the NFL suspends him.

6. Matthew Thomas, MLB, Florida State.

Combine results: 6-3, 232 pounds, 4.58 40, 4.28 shuttle 6.85 3-cone, 41.5-inch vert, 131-inch broad.

Draft projection: Round 6 or Round 7.

Why Thomas fits: Another late-round middle linebacker who could replace Foster if necessary. Thomas and Burks are practically twins.

7. Holton Hill, Cornerback, Texas.

Combine results: 6-3, 200 pounds, 32-inch arms, 14 reps on the bench, 4.49 40, 4.15 shuttle, 6.83 3-cone, 31-inch vert, 120-inch broad.

Draft projection: Round 3 or Round 4.

Why Hill fits: Pete Carroll and his disciples have strict requirements for cornerbacks they draft before the fifth round, and Hill meets all of them. He's tall and strong, but quick like a smaller player. He has 4.4 speed. And he has 32-inch arms to jam receivers at the line of scrimmage. He could start for the Niners as a rookie.

8. Trey Walker, CB, Louisiana-Lafayette.

Combine results: 6-2, 200 pounds, 33.5-inch arms, 14 reps on the bench, 4.51 40, 4.28 shuttle, 7.00 3-cone, 33-inch vert, 119-inch broad.

Draft projection: Round 5 or Round 6.

Why Walker fits: He's only 1 inch shorter than Hill, and .02 seconds slower in the 40. They're similar. But, Walker will be available much later in the draft, because he went to a small school and played safety. He's a long-term project at cornerback.

9. Justin Reid, Free Safety, Stanford.

Combine results: 6-1, 204 pounds, 16 reps on the bench, 4.4 40, 4.15 shuttle, 6.65 3-cone, 36.5-inch vert, 128-inch broad.

Draft projection: Round 1 or 2.

Why Reid fits: He's more than fast enough to cover the middle of the field in the 49ers' three-deep defense. And he's Eric Reid's little brother. Those two could play together if the 49ers re-sign Reid The Elder, who's an impending free agent.

10. Troy Apke, FS, Penn State.

Combine results: 6-2, 198 pounds, 16 reps on the bench, 4.34 40, 4.03 shuttle, 6.56 3-cone, 41-inch vert, 131-inch broad.

Draft projection: Round 7.

Why Apke fits: He's even more athletic than Reid The Younger, and will be available on the final day of the draft. Apke lacks experience — he started only one season in college. But his athletic traits could allow him to become a dominant free safety in the 49ers' defensive scheme.

Grant Cohn covers the 49ers for The Press Democrat and in Santa Rosa. You can reach him at

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