The 2023 NFL Draft is done and dusted, and the San Francisco 49ers did what they could with their limited resources after the Trey Lance and Christian McCaffrey trades in recent years. The 49ers selected nine players during the draft’s seven rounds, although they didn’t get started until the back end of the third. Here are the 49ers NFL draft grades for every pick in this year’s draft.
San Francisco 49ers 2023 NFL Draft Grades
Round 3, Pick 87: S Ji’Ayir Brown (Penn State)
Ji’Ayir Brown was a fantastic first pick for the 49ers. Just watching his tape, Brown plays like a player who should have gone in Round 2 of the 2023 NFL Draft. In 2021, he was phenomenal playing next to his Lackawanna College and Penn State safety partner Jaquan Brisker.
Brown was good last year, too, after Brisker left for the NFL, recording 74 tackles, seven tackles for a loss, 4.5 sacks, four interceptions, three pass breakups, and two forced fumbles. On the NFL level, he can play deep safety, box safety, or nickel corner.
The only real issue is that he ran a disappointing 4.65 40-yard dash at the combine. That makes him a great value with this first 49ers draft pick, even though the team already has an excellent safety duo with Talanoa Hufanga and Tashaun Gipson.
Round 3, Pick 99: K Jake Moody (Michigan)
The 49ers had eight picks in the last five rounds of the 2023 NFL Draft. They had to make all of them count. And what did they do instead? Oh, only become the first team to select a kicker.
Jake Moody is a fine kicker who is incredibly reliable from in close. However, he’s a little shaky from longer distances. He only connected on 66.6% of his field goals from 40 yards and out the last two seasons.
The Niners have a deep roster that went all the way to the NFC Championship last season. Still, every draft is important and John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan blew one of their three precious late Day 2 picks in this one on a kicker. That’s not smart.
Round 3, Pick 101: TE Cameron Latu (Alabama)
This is more the type of 49ers draft pick the franchise needed to make with their third-round selections. Cameron Latu has a lot of talent, and he started his college career as a pass-rusher, so he’s only been playing the position since 2019. That means Latu could have tremendous upside.
At an athletic 6-foot-4, 242 pounds, this TE can operate in multiple positions on the offense, which is a must in Kyle Shanahan’s offense.
He should be an excellent TE2 to George Kittle, and since Kittle rarely stays healthy for an entire season, he should feature in at least a few 49ers games as TE1 next season.
Round 5, Pick 155: CB Darrell Luter Jr. (South Alabama)
Darrell Luter Jr. is a big, talented small school corner who should have the skills and athleticism to become a real player despite the major jump in competition next season. He has some holes in his game he needs to tighten up, but multiple outlets compare him to the Buffalo Bills sixth-round pick last year, Christian Benford, who became a starter in 2022 for the AFC powerhouse.
Round 5, Pick 173: EDGE Robert Beal Jr. (Georgia)
Everyone wanted a piece of the Georgia Bulldogs defense in the 2023 NFL Draft, and the 49ers got one, too, albeit a less one in pass-rusher Robert Beal Jr. Beal had his best season in 2021 with 6.5 sacks, but only three as a rotational rusher in 2022. If Beal can bulk up from his current weight of 247 pounds, he could become a decent player.
Round 6, Pick 216: LB Dee Winters (TCU)
Dee Winters is a short and speedy linebacker who showed some potential for the Horned Frogs but simply might not be good enough or big enough to play at the NFL level. In the sixth round, this isn’t terrible, though, if he turns into a solid special teamer.
Round 7, Pick 247: TE Brayden Willis (Oklahoma)
Brayden Willis is an H-back style tight end and an excellent blocker. His talent isn’t overwhelming by any means, but he is versatile, which is what Kyle Shanahan wants on his offense, Willis could be a useful TE3 in the 2023 season.
Round 7, Pick 253: WR Ronnie Bell (Michigan)
Ronnie Bell impressed many by coming back from a torn ACL in 2022 and fighting for balls all around the Big 10. He still looked a little sluggish at times on the knee, though, and he wasn’t a speedster, to begin with. Bell is a solid player with limited upside, which is why he gets an average 49ers draft grade.
Round 7, Pick 255: LB Jalen Graham (Purdue)
Jalen Graham played all over the defense at Purdue but will need to improve all around to become a Will linebacker in the NFL. He does have some upside, though.
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