49ers building bully defense, draft Ahkello Witherspoon in 3rd round

Ahkello Witherspoon is discussed on today's Cover32 49ers podcast.
49ers 3rd round selection Ahkello Witherspoon is discussed on today's Cover32 49ers podcast.

The San Francisco 49ers appear to be building a bully on defense, much like the image of their current general manager and former hard hitting safety, John Lynch. The 49ers selected another solid defensive prospect in cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon with the 66th pick (3rd round) of the NFL draft. Shortly after this selection, the 49ers traded the 67th overall pick to the Saints for a 2nd round pick in 2018 and 7th round pick (229) in this draft.

Ahkello Witherspoon is considered a late bloomer with a lot of potential. He was only 5’8” when he graduated high school and was probably a better soccer player. He is more than grown up now, measuring at a full six foot three inches, and had a nation leading 23 passes defensed this past year with Colorado. Witherspoon’s height is matched with a 40 ½ inch vertical and 33 inch arms which all rank above the 90th percentile for cornerbacks in the NFL, so saying he is a “long” corner is an understatement. He is great with his hands and uses his length to get his hands on a lot of passes.


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Witherspoon plays head up with the wide receiver and tries to move into the trail technique and then allow his length to make the play on the ball. He is not known for interceptions but seems to always get his hands on the ball.

Witherspoon uses his speed well on the field and has no problem staying with the best speedsters in the nation. Akhello seems to glide on film with ease, and always seems calm and collected. Akhello could teach a clinic on mirror and match technique where he lets the wide receiver do what he wants but is always in their hip pocket.

Schematically, Witherspoon will serve in a Richard Sherman role in the 49ers new single high safety defense. The 49ers were limited with smaller inexperienced corners and Witherspoon will be a day one starter who will probably play exclusively on the left side in his rookie year.

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  • jonathon chapman

    Follow me on twitter for more 49ers draft talk and video highlights @ JL_Chapman