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Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports


49ers make TCU LB Dee Winters a 6th-round draft pick

Apr 29, 2023 at 2:19 PM


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The San Francisco 49ers selected TCU linebacker Dee Winters with the 39th pick (No. 216 overall) in the sixth round of the 2023 NFL Draft.

Winters registered 79 tackles, 14.5 tackles for a loss, 7.5 sacks, two passes defensed, an interception, and a touchdown through 15 game appearances as a senior in 2022, per Sports Reference. He recorded 246 tackles, 33.5 tackles for a loss, 12.5 sacks, seven passes defensed, three interceptions, and a touchdown through his four collegiate seasons.

"A versatile linebacker with inside/outside experience, Winters needs to take on blockers with the same intensity he displays when he hits ball-carriers," Lance Zierlein wrote within the player's NFL.com scouting report. "He lacks ideal size, so he will need to win with play speed and aggression in attacking the play design. He's adequate dropping into space and can get after the pocket as a blitzer. He might be best suited for a role as a run and strike Will linebacker, but he has the instincts and feel to play inside if he's protected by the front. Winters has Day 3 draft value with an average ceiling."

Winters is from Brenham, TX. He earned a pre-draft grade of 5.94 from NFL.com, which equates to an "average backup or special-teams player," per the site's 8-point grading scale.

At the NFL Scouting Combine, the 5'11" and 227-pound Winters had a 40-time of 4.49 seconds, a vertical jump of 30.5 inches, and a broad jump of 117 inches. His other measurables include an arm length of 31 5/8 inches and hands measuring 8 5/8 inches.

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

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

Winters was rated among the top athletes in the country out of Texas' Burton High School. TCU signed him to play linebacker, and he started twice in 11 appearances at that position as a true freshman (28 tackles, 4.5 for loss with two sacks, one pass breakup). He started all 10 games for the Horned Frogs in 2020 (65 tackles, 9.5 for loss with two sacks, two pass breakups) and then led his squad with 74 stops (five for loss with one sack), intercepting two passes in 12 starts during his junior campaign. He was a first-team All-Big 12 Conference selection as a senior in 2022, accumulating 79 tackles, 14.5 for loss with 7.5 sacks, an interception returned for a score and two pass breakups in 15 games (14 starts) for the national runners-up. -- by Chad Reuter

Keith Sanchez of The Draft Network wrote the following about Winters within his scouting report:

Dee Winters was a linebacker for the TCU Horned Frogs who entered the year as one of the team's captains. He led TCU to a national championship appearance. Winters originally started his career at safety and made the transition to linebacker. Winters quickly showed the instincts to play the linebacker position and became a versatile second-level defender, aligning at all linebacker positions and playing nickel. He was very productive, leading the team in tackles in the 2021 and 2022 seasons. Winters was not only a productive tackler, but his skill set from previously playing safety shows in his three interceptions over the past two years. Winters finished the 2022 season with 79 tackles, one fumble recovery, and one interception returned for a touchdown—showcasing that he is a versatile second-level defender with athletic ability that allows him to make plays. Winters' athleticism allows him to make plus-level plays against the run and on passing downs.

As a run defender, Winters is best when he is on called run blitzes and he can use his speed and quickness to shoot gaps. Winters does a good job of timing the snap right and getting into the backfield to make a play on the ball carrier. Winter has exceptional acceleration and closing speed to the ball carrier and can chase down most players. Winters is a versatile tackler in that he can wrap and drag down ball carriers or he can deliver the big hit when necessary. Winters appears to be comfortable on called run blitzes, which allows him to attack the line of scrimmage and be a disruptive defender.

In pass coverage, Winters' experience as a former defensive back shows in both zone and man coverage. In zone coverage, Winter can flip hips and get great depth on his zone drops. He does a good job of understanding route combinations and can properly pass off crossing receivers and maintain discipline in his zone drop. Winters also shows that he can plant and drive on the football to disrupt a play for a PBU or interception. In man-to-man coverage, Winters' athleticism allows him to comfortably cover running backs, tight ends, and some slot receivers. Winters showed to have the speed to carry vertically with receivers and make a play on the ball down the field. He also has the short-area quickness to match up with running backs out of the backfield who run option routes to get open underneath.

Winters' improvements as a defender center around him improving his ability to play the run—both diagnosing run plays and deconstructing blocks. Winters appears to be hesitant against the run when he has to key and diagnose and work downhill. It appears that WInters needs more reps making quick decisions in the box and pulling his trigger to attack downhill and make a play close to the line of scrimmage. Because Winters is delayed in pulling his trigger, it allows for offensive linemen to work to him and makes his ability to shed offensive linemen more difficult. Winters has the speed to beat defenders to a spot and could benefit in the run game by just making a quick decision, attacking downhill, and making an effective tackle.

Measurables


Height: 5'11"
Weight: 227 lbs.
Arm length: 31 5/8 inches
Hand length: 8 5/8 inches

NFL Scouting Combine


40-time: 4.49 seconds
Vertical: 30.5 inches
Broad jump: 117 inches

College Statistics
Year School Class G Solo Ast Tot Loss Sk Int
2019 TCU FR 8 19 9 28 4.5 2 --
2020 TCU SO 10 40 25 65 9.5 2 --
2021 TCU JR 12 53 21 74 5 1 2
2022 TCU SR 15 48 31 79 14.5 7.5 1
Total TCU 160 86 246 33.5 12.5 3


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