San Francisco 49ers NFL Draft Grades 2023: Ji’Ayir Brown and Jake Moody Lead Class

    What are the San Francisco 49ers' grades for their selections in the 2023 NFL Draft as they look to address their main needs this offseason?

    The San Francisco 49ers didn’t have any high-end draft capital to spend in the 2023 NFL Draft, but that didn’t preclude them from trying to fill a few minor holes in the drywall of their roster with their selections. The 49ers’ draft grades tell the story of how well they accomplished that goal.

    San Francisco 49ers NFL Draft Grades

    Round 3, Pick 87: Ji’Ayir Brown, S, Penn State

    Ji’Ayir Brown didn’t test well as a runner, but athletic testing and pure speed at the free safety position is more of an added bonus than it is a necessity. Brown is incredibly quick-witted, and that will make him a starter at the NFL level from Day 1.

    San Francisco needed another starter on the back end to pair with Talanoa Hufanga. While Hufanga will likely remain the playmaker on the back end, Brown can be the even-keeled coverage player.

    Grade: B

    Round 3, Pick 99: Jake Moody, K, Michigan

    Robbie Gould’s replacement heads to San Francisco in Round 3 of the NFL Draft. But that means a kicker was taken in the third round of the NFL Draft, and that value simply doesn’t add up. Jake Moody never missed an extra point in college and made 52 of his 60 field-goal attempts over the past two seasons.

    But it’s a kicker on Day 2.

    Grade: D+

    Round 3, Pick 101: Cameron Latu, TE, Alabama

    The 49ers don’t need a starting tight end, so there’s no hurt in drafting one in Round 3 that isn’t quite a desirable athlete at the position. He likely won’t ever be a starter at the NFL level, but Cameron Latu is a fluid mover with a bit o wiggle to separate from coverage despite not possessing the ideal explosiveness for the position.

    However, what’s a bit confusing is that he’s also not an outstanding blocker, at least not yet. That is often something coveted in the Kyle Shanahan system, so it will be interesting to see how that develops over time.

    Grade: C

    Round 3, Pick 101: Darrell Luter Jr., CB, South Alabama

    The San Francisco 49ers patiently waited to grab their man in Darrell Luter Jr. in Round 5, nabbing a true lockdown cornerback. Luter has great size and is incredibly sticky in coverage. He’s just one season removed from allowing the single lowest passer rating into his coverage of any defensive back in the country and was able to showcase an ability to play up to his competition no matter who the opponent was.

    Grade: B+

    Round 5, Pick 173: Robert Beal Jr., EDGE, Georgia

    A quiet producer on the two-time national champion Georgia defense, Robert Beal Jr. presents a high upside pick for the 49ers.

    Beal has great size and terrific athleticism, flashing his high-end play down the stretch a season ago. Standing him up off the edge and letting him fire off to the passer will utilize his strong skill set immediately.

    Grade: B-

    Round 6, Pick 216: Dee Winters, LB, TCU

    Dee Winters flashed at times during his four-year career at TCU, most noticeably during the Horned Frogs’ playoff run in 2022. Winters then blew up the offseason testing circuit with his speed and agility. He may lack the ideal size of a linebacker, but he excels in coverage and special teams, his ideal fits with the 49ers.

    Grade: B+

    Round 7, Pick 248: Brayden Willis, TE, Oklahoma

    Brayden Willis did a bit of everything for the Sooners during his five seasons in Norman. Willis has a massive frame at 6’3” and over 240 pounds but may lack top-end athleticism and speed. He could feature heavily in three-TE sets if that is the plan for him, as he’s a valuable addition for his pass-blocking skills.

    Grade: B-

    Round 7, Pick 253: Ronnie Bell, WR, Michigan

    Ronnie Bell flashed brilliance during his time with the Michigan Wolverines. Had it not been for a devastating knee injury during the 2021 season, Bell would likely already be on an NFL roster. Instead, the 49ers scoop him up here and grab a player with documented elite ball skills. His hands were the only question mark on his report in regards to translating to the NFL and likely the only facet making him still available here.

    Grade: A-

    Round 7, Pick 255: Jalen Graham, LB, Purdue

    The question mark on Jalen Graham’s scouting report was simple: Where does he fit in the NFL? A safety-sized linebacker with terrific coverage instincts, he plays like a safety in coverage at times but moves like a linebacker stuck in mud at others. He’s a sound tackler but has his limitations as a three-down defender.

    Grade: C+

    What Were the 49ers’ Biggest Needs Entering the Draft?

    • OT, CB, DT, EDGE

    The 49ers’ roster doesn’t look quite as complete heading into the NFL Draft as it has heading into previous campaigns. San Francisco needs to upgrade at RT after letting Mike McGlinchey secure the bag elsewhere. Aside from that, they look good offensively.

    They’ll need to figure out who their third cornerback is. The 49ers have bodies there but nothing that should breed confidence in fans. Although they invested in Javon Hargrave, San Francisco absolutely needs to find a gap-plugging run defender. They also need some help behind Nick Bosa and Drake Jackson besides Clelin Ferrell.

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