19 Apr 3rd round draft targets
As social media continues the never-ending bar room brawl that is the QB draft dilemma, many have neglected to discuss what the San Francisco 49ers will be addressing with their later draft picks.
Luckily for them, this draft class is loaded with talent in the later rounds, all of which are positions that the 49ers need depth at. This includes the wide receiver, cornerback, and defensive end spots. The overall depth chart is solid at the starting positions, but the guys that would be considered rotational could use a boost in terms of youth and talent.
While the 2nd round pick the team owns would be the next most important pick, I want to dive into some of the players the team could be targeting once the third round hits. The third round tends to come with players that may be more raw in terms of ability, but could have very high ceilings.
In the third round, John Lynch and co. hit a homerun by drafting star LB Fred Warner in 2018. Outside of him, they have been so-so at drafting other players in the third round in previous drafts. Tarvarius Moore is an inconsistent but solid depth piece in the secondary, while WR Jalen Hurd has potential through the roof, but has been unable to stay healthy. Players drafted in this round that are now with different teams are QB C.J. Beathard and CB Ahkello Witherspoon,
With this in mind, I feel it is key that the front office hits on the majority of their draft picks. Although the team is still a win-now roster even with a rookie QB, having depth at all positions is vital. As we saw last season, the lack of depth (especially at QB) proved to be the downfall for the team. Having a player that can not only step in and compete, but be a young athlete and learn the ropes of the NFL, is important for maintaining long-term success.
Without further ado, here are my 5 players that the team should be looking to target once the third round hits.
Tylan Wallace, WR, Oklahoma State
After losing WR Kendrick Bourne to the New England Patriots, the 49ers are arguably lacking depth at the WR position. While Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel are solidified as the 1-2 WRs, the rest of the roster falls off in terms of talent. The team has Jalen Hurd, but banking on him staying healthy is a huge risk. Aside from him, other WRs the team has on the roster are as follows: River CraCraft, Richie James, Jauan Jennings, Austin Proehl, Mohammed Sanu, Trent Sherfield, and Kevin White. I feel that the 3-6 spots on the WR depth chart are up for grabs. Adding Wallace would give the team a solid Bourne replacement, and an injection of talent to the position. Wallace may not be a burner, but he is one of the best jump-ball guys in the draft, and knows how to win downfield. A feisty and physical WR, I like to think of Wallace as Bourne 2.0. In his senior year, Wallace finished with 59 catches for 922 yards and 6 touchdowns.
Chatarius “TuTu” Atwell, WR, Louisville
Continuing at the WR position, Atwell is an undersized but speedy player that can turn on the burners quickly. Even though his frame is small at 5’9′ and 165 lbs., Atwell would be the prototypical slot receiver the 49ers should be targeting. Carrying elite speed and shiftiness, I would consider Atwell one of the best gadget players to plug into Shanahan’s offense, as his agility and precise route running would blend beautifully with Shanahan’s passing concepts. He wouldn’t be the down field threat that Aiyuk is, however, Atwell would work the quick-screen game and end around-style plays with ease. One of his negatives is his inconsistent hands and inability to get off of press coverage, but I feel these are things that can be worked on. Either way, Atwell would best be suited for plays that put him in open space, something Shanahan excels at. In 2019, Atwell finished with 69 catches for 1272 yards and 11 TDs.
Tyson Campbell, CB, Georgia
Playing opposite of likely 1st round CB Eric Stokes, Campbell flew under-the-radar with the Bulldogs defense. Measuring at 6’2 and 185 lbs., he’s got a solid frame that would fit well with the 49ers defense. Aside from this, I would consider him one of the most physically gifted CBs in the entire draft class. Campbell has a solid blend of both man and zone coverage skills. With the 49ers lacking depth, Campbell would be the perfect rotational man the team needs on their CB depth chart. He may not be an instant starter, however, Campbell is the perfect CB to give a handful of snaps to, while he develops behind Jason Verrett, I think Campbell has the ceiling of a CB1, but he needs some time to develop. Some of his concerns include consistency at the position, as well as some durability concerns. Campbell may have all the tools needed to be a solid starting corner, but, he needs to work on his overall awareness at the position. He’s raw. but carries tremendous upside. In 2020. Campbell only had 1 INT, but finished with 5 pass deflections and 2.5 TFLs.
Benjamin St. Juste, CB, Minnesota
Tall and long, that’s how I would define Benjamin St. Juste. Measuring at 6’3″ and 205 lbs., St. Juste is the typical CB to plug into the Seattle-3 scheme the 49ers run. In my opinion, I think the team may slowly be altering their scheme to better fit smaller corners with man-cover skills, but I don’t think that should stop the team from targeting St. Juste. While he does not feature world beating speed, Benjamin has the length to be incredibly disruptive while in man or zone coverage. He needs to work on diagnosing how routes are developing, and his ability to stick with his man, but his traits should be looked at as a plus. One of my favorite things about his game is his ability to cause problems at the catch point. He is also a willing tackler, something that NFL coaches covet in today’s game. His issues are coachable, and I feel do not hurt his draft stock in any way. Much like Campbell, he needs a season or two to develop, but carries a strong ceiling that would make him a starting CB in the NFL. In 2019, St. Juste finished with 10 pass deflections, and 45 total tackles.
Ronnie Perkins, DE, Oklahoma
Perkins is a 6’3″. 250 lb. tank of a defensive edge. Primarily a 5-technique player, Perkins can lineup with his hand in the dirt or standing. For his size, Perkins wears it very well on the field. One of my favorite things about Perkins’ play is his prowess when using his hands. He’s violent and disruptive when attacking with his hands, and has some of the best technical skills in this draft class. He features good speed and all-around strength as a DE, something the 49ers should be looking for in this class. Although the team signed Samson Ebukam to be the 3rd down pass rusher, I feel Perkins can develop into an all-around player that could be a three down lineman. The 49ers lack depth at the DE position, and Perkins would fill in beautifully behind Armstead and Bosa. One thing Perkins could work on is his ability to take on stronger tackles. Although his strength is a plus, Perkins had a tendency to get worked over against tackles that weren’t afraid to take him on. Perkins needs some technical refinement in his footwork skills, as well as his discipline when going in to tackle, but these things can be fixed with playing time. Perkins under DL coach Kris Kocurek would immediately raise his ceiling to a starting caliber player. In only 6 games, Perkins had 5.5 sacks, 10.5 TFLs. and 23 total tackles.