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49ers make Oklahoma TE Brayden Willis a 7th-round draft pick

Apr 29, 2023 at 3:34 PM--

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The San Francisco 49ers selected Oklahoma tight end Brayden Willis with the 30th pick (No. 247 overall) in the seventh round of the 2023 NFL Draft.

Willis registered 39 receptions for 514 yards and seven touchdowns through 13 game appearances as a senior in 2022, per Sports Reference. He caught 75 passes for 998 yards with 13 touchdowns through his five collegiate seasons.

"Willis' size and athletic profile leaves him lacking as both an in-line blocker and as a pass-catching option," Lance Zierlein wrote within the player's scouting report. "He lacks in-line power and plays with low-burn intensity getting into blocks at times, but body control and hand strength help increase his sustain effectiveness when blocking on the move. He's tough working into traffic, but a high percentage of his catches came with nobody around him in space. He will need to prove he can separate against man coverage outside of the Oklahoma scheme."

Willis is from Arlington, TX. He earned a pre-draft grade of 5.69 from, which equates to a "chance to make a roster or practice squad," per the site's 8-point grading scale.

At the NFL Scouting Combine, the 6' 3 1/2" and 241-pound Willis had a vertical jump of 32 inches, a broad jump of 117 inches, a 7.3-second three-cone drill time, 20 reps in the bench press, and a 20-yard shuttle time of 4.36 seconds. His other measurables include an arm length of 33 1/4 inches and hands measuring 9 3/4 inches. projected Willis to be a priority free agent.

Below is the draft profile bio on Willis:

Willis was a three-star recruit and district MVP at James Martin High School in Arlington, Texas. He played in 13 games as a true freshman as a reserve tight end/H-back (1-29-29.0 receiving) and on special teams. Willis got two starts as a sophomore, collecting 11 passes for 168 yards (15.3 per) and three scores in 14 games. He missed six games in 2020, however, due to injury but managed to score once in five appearances (9-110-12.2, two starts). Willis started eight of 13 games played in 2021, grabbing 15 passes for 177 yards (11.8 per, two scores). He became a big part of the Sooners' offense in 2022, garnering second-team All-Big 12 Conference honors with 39 receptions for 514 yards (13.2 per) and a team-high seven receiving scores. -- by Chad Reuter

Joe Marino of The Draft Network wrote the following about Willis within his scouting report:


Brayden Willis provided value to the Oklahoma Sooners' program in a variety of ways, showcasing exciting versatility that makes him an appealing prospect. He delivered his most impactful season in 2022 while improving in several critical areas.

The name of the game for Willis is versatility. He has proven ability to make an impact as a pass-catcher, runner, blocker, special teamer, and even threw a touchdown pass. Hauling in 39 receptions for 503 yards and seven touchdowns in 2022, Willis became a trusted option in the passing game. The Sooners gave him opportunities to win in space and over the middle of the field, where his athleticism and ability to create as a ball carrier led to production. He illustrates reliable hands while taking advantage of spacing and his quickness to separate to make a fair amount of plays.

As a blocker, Willis gets after it! His best moments came when Oklahoma gave him chances to serve as a lead blocker into gaps and in space. He has an aggressive mindset and does well to control himself to find consistency. I like the way he leverages blocks, seals, and has a finisher's mentality. While he's undersized to be consistent as an in-line blocker, there is no denying his willingness, enthusiasm, and temperament when competing against defensive ends.

Against Texas in 2022, Oklahoma gave him the chance to play quarterback in Wildcat, executing zone reads where his ability as a runner and decision-maker in those situations was impressive. Willis should also provide four-phase special teams upside in the NFL where he enters the league with nearly 850 career snaps on special teams.

When it comes to concerns, projecting Willis as a traditional in-line tight end would be a disservice to his skill set. To maximize his ability, tapping into his versatility is required. He doesn't have the mass and functional strength to project favorably to a high volume of snaps in-line. As a receiver, his hands and athleticism shine but he was tasked with a very simple route tree, so acclimating to his role in an NFL offense comes with a learning curve.

Willis can absolutely bring value in a variety of ways to an NFL roster but that comes with utilizing the full breadth of what he offers with the understanding he isn't best suited for any one specific traditional role.


Height: 6' 3 1/2"
Weight: 241 lbs.
Arm length: 33 1/4 inches
Hand length: 9 3/4 inches

NFL Scouting Combine

Vertical: 32 inches
Broad jump: 117 inches
3-cone drill: 7.3 seconds
Bench press: 20 reps
20-yard shuttle: 4.36 seconds

College Statistics
Year School Class G Rec Yds Avg TD
2018 Oklahoma FR 2 1 29 29 --
2019 Oklahoma SO 12 11 168 15.3 3
2020 Oklahoma JR 4 9 110 12.2 1
2021 Oklahoma SR 7 15 177 11.8 2
2022 Oklahoma SR 13 39 514 13.2 7
Total Oklahoma 75 998 13.3 13

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