Kentavius Street isn’t expected to play a single snap in 2018, but is an investment in the future.
The former North Carolina State defensive lineman, who was taken in the fourth round by the 49ers in the recent NFL draft, tore his ACL during a pre-draft workout for the New York Giants. He had surgery and is expected to be placed on injured reserve for all of the 2018 season.
Yet the 49ers think they’re getting a good player, and one who is more talented than his fourth-round status. His stock dropped because of the injury.
Though Street, 6-foot-2 and 280 pounds, played both defensive end and tackle in college, it’s expected he’ll be more of an inside player for the Niners, especially if he can add strength and weight.
In his final season for N.C. State, Street started all 13 games and had 38 tackles, including 6½ for loss, with 3½ sacks and two fumble recoveries. He also was a full-time starter in 2016, with 30 tackles, nine for loss, and 5½ sacks.
NFL.com analyst Lance Zierlein noted in his pre-draft scouting report that, “Street has the level of strength and toughness that defenses are looking for on the edge, but his lack of reactive quickness and lack of desired strength is a concern against NFL tackles. Street doesn’t appear to be a plus pass rusher, but his power is intriguing. A team might be interested in asking him to add more weight in an attempt to bump him inside.”
Niners general manager John Lynch told Cam Inman of the Bay Area News Group that taking Street in the draft – even though he can’t play this season – gives the franchise a player with potential in 2019.
“We aren’t looking for guys like that (injured),” he said, “but when you find a guy you really like, sometimes you’ve got to be patient and we’re willing to be patient if it’s worth it and we feel like it’s worth it.”
As Inman noted, the pick of Street prompted memories of other 49ers drafts in recent years under former GM Trent Baalke, who often selected injured players in the hope they would come back strong – but most didn’t.
Street, however, is convinced he can work hard this year, get healthy and strong and make a bid for playing time next season.
“I’ve conquered bigger things in my life, so I just kept my head on straight,” he said. He says his recovery is going well. When he’s healthy, he says fans will like what they see. He described his style of play to Inman like this:
“I’m a well-balanced guy. I feel I’m really stout against the run. Violent hands. Low pad level. I just use my quickness, instincts. A lot is just studying offensive linemen, and that plays a vital role.”