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For The Record - 49ers CB Deommodore Lenoir

Justin Wong
Jun 9, 2021 at 5:48 PM0


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My apologies for the delay on my end for the two-week hiatus--life comes at you fast! I plan on finishing off the "For The Record" series with the remaining players along with a full evaluation of the 49ers' draft class with consideration to the recent training camp injuries (safety Tarvarius Moore, offensive lineman Justin Skule).

While NFL Draft pundits and fans alike can give instant reactions to their team's player selections, it's easy to forget that the true value of the picks cannot be fully assessed until after a couple of seasons. Some players become instant starters (Nick Bosa), while others remain works in progress (Javon Kinlaw). Having said that, I want to pull out the receipts on what draft analysts were saying prior to the draft, along with their player comparisons. With the 2021 NFL Draft now in the books, let's review what various scouting outlets were saying about the 49ers' draft picks in this mini-series, "For The Record". The San Francisco 49ers had three draft picks in the fifth round and used their second one to select Oregon cornerback, Deommodore Lenoir, with the 172nd pick.


NFL Player Comparison: Ugo Amadi

Dane Brugler of The Athletic likes his "turn-and-run drive mechanics" but will need to improve his "anticipation at the NFL level" in his 2021 NFL Draft Guide:

A three-year starter at Oregon, Lenoir was the boundary cornerback in former defensive coordinator Andy Avalos' scheme, playing both man and zone coverages. He was the highest-ranked recruit in Willie Taggart's first (and only) recruiting class and he was a solid performer in Eugene (27 passes defended, five interceptions), although he never led the team in passes defended or interceptions in any of his four seasons. Lenoir is smooth in his turn-and-run and drive mechanics, but he must recognize play design and routes quicker. In coverage, the ball finds him more than he finds the ball. Overall, Lenoir has adequate size and athleticism, but he doesn't have the tape of a playmaker and must develop his anticipation to survive at the NFL level, projecting as a possible back-up.

NFL Analyst Lance Zierlein appreciates his "high degree of physicality" as a press corner but questions his tight hips and transitions:

Compact corner with short arms, but often makes up for it with a high degree of physicality. His tight hips prevent fluid transitions from off-man or mirror-and-match techniques and he lacks the chase speed to make up the necessary ground quickly. His toughness and physicality can be rewarded in bump-and-run and zone coverages where he can bang on receivers in the first 5 yards and bully the catch-point underneath. He needs to improve his eye discipline, as well as his poise when his back is to the football or he'll be flagged time and again. His frame and run-support toughness could have teams eyeing him as a zone nickel, but a move to safety could be in consideration, too.

ESPN Scout Inc.'s draft grade of Lenoir gave him a 30 grade as with "average top-end speed."

Lenoir has average size and below average length. He limits production after the catch, but he gives too much of a cushion and takes too long to close in off coverage. He gets beat over the top. He has average top-end speed and he doesn't have the frame to regularly win 50-50 balls downfield. He flashes the ability to catch balls thrown outside his frame, and he has good timing breaking up passes. He misses the occasional tackle, but he's a willing run defender with good stopping power for his size.

Pro Football Focus views Lenoir as either a slot or safety prospect at the next level based on his size and athletic profile in its live analysis of the 2021 NFL Draft:

Lenoir's size and athletic profile will likely keep him from transitioning to outside cornerback — the position he played at Oregon — in the NFL. His physicality and tackling do give him an opportunity to stick in either the slot or at safety, and those are both positions where the 49ers could use some additional depth.


Given the 49ers' current state of defensive backs set to hit free agency after this season, it's no surprise they loaded up on defensive back prospects in the latter portion of the draft. They typically don't invest premium draft capital in the secondary but they certainly wanted to fill up the cupboard with talent. With the 49ers nabbing Ambry Thomas earlier in the third round, they once again draft a man-press cornerback albeit without the typical size and length at 5'11"-- he was projected as a late-round pick.

No one questions Lenoir's toughness to bully receivers at the line of scrimmage or his willingness to tackle in the open field. Lenoir actually has strong ties to former 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman from his mentor, De'Vah Thomas. The real concerns lie in his tangibles such as size, speed, and the overall instincts to compete at the NFL level. As NFL analyst Lance Zierlein eluded to earlier, his tackling ability could certainly see him as a possible option at safety but his ceiling limits him as a slot cornerback.


While the sample size is small, Lenoir is already off to a promising start in training camp. He caught the attention of many when he manhandled 49ers receiver Austin Watkins and intercepted Trey Lance's pass on his first day. He's already received praise from current and former players ranging from Jason Verrett to Deion Sanders.


I could see Lenoir being another nice find in the fifth round similar to when the 49ers drafted defensive back D.J. Reed in the 2018 NFL Draft. Reed was a similar slot/safety prospect who showed early promise. While it didn't work out for Reed in San Francisco, Reed has since become the starting cornerback for the division-rival Seattle Seahawks, despite his smaller frame at 5'9".
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


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