Over the course of May, both Kyle Crabbs and I will be assessing each team’s specific Draft class. The objective here is to identify value: where it was best and where it was worst. NDT Premium members will soon be able to access the comprehensive breakdowns of draft classes as well, which looks at the pick by pick breakdown of value across our respective 2017 NFL Draft boards. Today I look at the San Francisco 49ers.
The full list of their 2017 NFL Draft class is below:
|177||WR||Trent Taylor||Louisiana Tech|
|229||CB||Adrian Colbert||Miami FL|
Best Value: DT DJ Jones, Mississippi
D.J. Jones is a massive, powerful man with a surprising amount of movement skills that make him an intriguing option. His best fit at the next level will come as a 3-4 nose tackle or a shade in a 4-3 alignment.
Jones plays with great leverage, heavy hands, and a stout anchor against the run. He can eat up space, reset the line of scrimmage, and maintain his gap(s).
Against the pass, he can push the pocket, but doesn’t have the length or closing burst to generate large amounts of pressure. Jones is a player that can instantly become a part of an NFL defensive line rotation and will help a team stop the run.
Worst Value: WR Trent Taylor, Louisiana Tech
A volume receiver in a wide-open spread system, Taylor flourished over his final two seasons at Louisiana Tech with off-the-charts production.
Taylor wins with nuanced routes, great timing, and the ability to establish leverage for his quarterback. His hands are outstanding and his quick footwork is difficult to mirror. With that said, his frame is diminutive and works against him.
His stride length is very short, which limits his ability to eat up cushion. Consequently, defensive backs easily crowd his route stems, and his lack of vertical speed allows them to play aggressively. His lack of length and catch radius will make it near impossible to compete at the catch point and his lack of play strength is an obstacle when jockeying for body positioning. He will struggle with all physical components of the position.
Taylor will need to be paired with a highly accurate quarterback to stick as a slot receiver, and it would behoove him to continue his growth as a punt returner.
Could Surprise: CB Ahkello Witherspoon, Colorado
Ahkello Witherspoon is a long, athletic cornerback who you can matchup with the big and fast wide receivers that today’s NFL features. Playing with great patience, Witherspoon is balanced and smooth in his backpedal and rarely has any false steps in his transitions.
Copious size, length, and athleticism allow for a greater margin of error, which Witherspoon uses to his advantage in the techniques that he plays. Witherspoon does well to break on the football and disrupt passes at the catch point.
Positives aside, Witherspoon has some deficiencies he will need to improve on to have NFL success. First and foremost, he is a major liability in run support and tackling. He appears disinterested and wants no part of it; he’s one of the more passive players I have seen.
Secondly, his ball skills with his back to the line of scrimmage are lacking, as he will find and track the ball late from the trail position.
At a minimum, Witherspoon can be a chess piece to match up with size on the perimeter, and if he can show some desire against the run and when tackling, he has the traits of a starter.