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49ers make South Alabama CB Darrell Luter Jr. a 5th-round draft pick

Apr 29, 2023 at 11:37 AM


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The San Francisco 49ers selected South Alabama cornerback Darrell Luter Jr. with the 20th pick (No. 155 overall) in the fifth round of the 2023 NFL Draft. The 49ers acquired the fifth-round pick by trading running back Jeff Wilson Jr. to the Miami Dolphins.

Luter registered 42 tackles, 0.5 tackles for a loss, seven passes defensed, and an interception through 13 game appearances as a senior in 2022, per Sports Reference. He recorded 91 tackles, 2.5 tackles for a loss, 18 passes defensed, five interceptions, and a forced fumble through his three collegiate seasons.

"Long-limbed press-cover cornerback with the ball skills and physicality to challenge receivers outside the numbers," Lance Zierlein wrote within the player's NFL.com scouting report, comparing Luter to Christian Benford. "Luter can be a little leggy in his transitions and burst to the football, but his length helps make up for that and creates pass breakups. Louisiana-Monroe attacked him with back-shoulder throws all game, which is something to keep an eye on in the pros. He's going to be more effective in press-and-shadow coverage than he is playing Cover 3 or off-man. His ball production dipped in 2022, but his length and playing style fit the NFL game."

Luter is from Hattiesburg, MS. He earned a pre-draft grade of 6 from NFL.com, which equates to an "above-average backup," per the site's 8-point grading scale.

At the NFL Scouting Combine, the 5' 11 3/4" and 189-pound Luter had a 40-time of 4.46 seconds, a vertical jump of 40.5 inches, a broad jump of 123 inches, a 6.9-second three-cone drill time, and a 20-yard shuttle time of 4.43 seconds. His other measurables include an arm length of 32 3/8 inches and hands measuring 10 3/8 inches.

NFL.com projected Luter to be a fifth- or sixth-round draft pick.

Below is the NFL.com draft profile bio on Luter:

Luter was a three-sport (football, basketball, track) athlete at Oak Grove High School and then stayed in Mississippi, signing with Pearl River Community College. He intercepted three passes and broke up 14 others in two years there before moving on to South Alabama for 2020. He played in 11 games as a reserve that year (28 tackles, one pass breakup). Luter had a strong 2021 campaign for the Jaguars, garnering first-team All-Sun Belt Conference accolades after leading the squad with four interceptions and 10 pass breakups (with 21 tackles, two for loss in 10 starts). He was a third-team selection as a senior, recording 42 tackles, an interception and seven pass breakups in 13 starts. -- by Chad Reuter

Brentley Weissman of The Draft Network wrote the following about Luter within his scouting report:

South Alabama's Darrell Luter Jr. might be a small-school prospect but he plays big. 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.

As a prospect, Luter Jr. offers good size, outstanding length, and is an above-average athlete. 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. 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.

Luter Jr. is excellent at playing football in the air and will be able to come down with interceptions. As a man defender, Luter Jr. utilizes his length to jam receivers down the stem and disrupt timing for the quarterback. As just an above-average athlete, Luter Jr. will struggle when faced with playing man coverage against NFL receivers who are just more explosive than he is. Luter Jr. shows some tightness at the breakpoint and receivers can separate laterally from him. Additionally, Luter Jr. has just average long speed and faster receivers can win vertically down the field. He is a tough and rugged player in the run game and is definitely a willing tackler.

Overall, Luter Jr. has starting-level ability at the next level but he will maximize his talent in a zone-based scheme where he can develop into a solid starter in the NFL.

Measurables


Height: 5' 11 3/4"
Weight: 189 lbs.
Arm length: 32 3/8 inches
Hand length: 10 3/8 inches

NFL Scouting Combine


40-time: 4.46 seconds
Vertical: 40.5 inches
Broad jump: 123 inches
3-cone drill: 6.9 seconds
20-yard shuttle: 4.43 seconds

College Statistics
Year School Class G Solo Ast Tot Loss Sk Int
2020 South Alabama JR 9 15 13 28 0 0 --
2021 South Alabama JR 9 13 8 21 2 0 4
2022 South Alabama SR 13 29 13 42 0.5 0 1
Total South Alabama 57 34 91 2.5 0 5


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