Someone from the small school realm is starting to move up on the San Francisco 49ers 2023 NFL Draft board, after it was revealed he’s had two talks with the Niners.
Via Justin Melo of The Draft Network on the morning of Monday, March 27, Darrell Luter Jr. from South Alabama met virtually with the Niners. But that now marks the second time Luter has spoken to the franchise as Kyle Madson of Niners Wire on USA Today shared Luter previously met with 49er reps at the 2023 Senior Bowl.
For a prospect to chat twice with a franchise, that should indicate his name has become high and on the short list of their draft board. And Luter has earned the title of being “one of the most productive corners in the country” by TDN.
‘Small School Prospect But he Plays Big’
Luter is entering this draft process aiming to shed the label of small school prospect making the NFL leap, as he starred in the Sun Belt Conference. Before the Jaguars, he was a junior college prospect from Pearl River CC. However, TDN analyst Brentley Weissman took a liking to Luter’s game at CB.
“South Alabama’s Darrell Luter Jr. might be a small-school prospect but he plays big,” Weissman began. “Luter Jr. has been one of the most productive corners in the country in recent seasons and he looks to make the jump from small-school ball to the NFL.”
Luter is entering the draft coming off his best season as a tackler: 42 total stops with 29 solo stops. He also delivered seven pass deflections and one interception. However, his ball-hawking skills were more productive in 2021 — with four interceptions snatched and 10 passes broken up for the incompletion. Despite playing in the Group of 5 realm, Weissman believes Luter is an above-average athlete for the CB position.
“As a prospect, Luter Jr. offers good size, outstanding length, and is an above-average athlete,” Weissman said. “He aligns as an outside corner in South Alabama’s defense and is very strong in coverage. Luter Jr. is an outstanding zone corner who flashes excellent instincts, awareness, and ball skills. He is able to read route combinations and is able to get a good jump on the football because he often knows where the receiver will end up while he is still on his route.”
Then there’s the feet and eyes component needed for corners — which is an additional strength on Luter’s side.
“Luter Jr. is a smooth and fluid player in zone drops and is excellent at reading the quarterback’s eyes while also dropping in his zone. He understands how to pass receivers off and pick up receivers who enter his zone and his length creates tight passing windows. His length is also an asset at the catch point where he is very competitive and is able to bat the ball down,” Weissman wrote.
Breakdown: He Could be Worth a Late Round Find for S.F.
Luter was graded with third round value by TDN. However, NFL Draft Buzz believes he’s seventh round material. Senior Bowl director Jim Nagy is another who believes he’s a day three target in the draft.
With this being a cornerback-heavy class, Luter could be worth the late round find for S.F. as their first three selections likely point to them addressing the trenches first. Luter, though, is a long-legged CB who shows a high sense of patience in one-on-ones as seen in the Senior Bowl:
However, when paired with the taller Michael Wilson of Stanford and playing five yards off, Luter was captured taking the wrong attack angle on Wilson’s inside plant and then turned his hips the wrong way:
There’s been moments too where he relies more on his hands over his feet. With his near 33 inch arms and long legs, he’s likely best suited for a press man heavy scheme. But, if he were to walk into the 49ers’ room, he’d absorb a lot from DB mind Steve Wilks and a fellow CB who played in a non-Power 5 conference and took the JUCO route: Charvarius Ward.