• Akash Anavarathan

Why Alabama's Jerry Jeudy doesn't physically fit Kyle Shanahan's ideal receiver mold

After the San Francisco 49ers traded away star defensive lineman DeForest Buckner away at the opening of free agency for the No. 13 overall pick in this year's NFL Draft, everyone's suddenly shifted their focus to the top prospects.

Ever since the departure of Emmanuel Sanders and concerns over the health of wideouts Trent Taylor and Jalen Hurd commenced, San Francisco's need for a wide receiver was heightened. In an unusually deep draft at receiver, the 49ers will look to insert another playmaker for quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.

Alabama's Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III. Oklahoma's CeeDee Lamb. These are the consensus top three receivers this season, but will Kyle Shanahan be attracted by one of these top players? Or will he fall in love with another one of the receivers in this class?

In order to determine what Kyle Shanahan looks for in his receivers, I did a deep dive into the physical characteristics of all the wideouts that Shanahan has added (either as an offensive coordinator or head coach) since 2015. The list of players below include those that were acquired through the draft, signed during free agency, traded for or signed as an un-drafted free agent.

The table below describes all of their measurables from the NFL Combine or the college's pro day. For some players, they didn't participate in certain drills, so the metric hasn't been filled in. Shanahan acquired a few other un-drafted free agents during his time with Atlanta, but there was no data available.

There were three physical traits that stood out:

  • Vertical Jump -- minimum of 32 inches

  • 3-cone time -- maximum of 7.0 seconds (with one notable exception of Deebo Samuel at 7.03)

  • 20-yard short shuttle time -- maximum of 4.20 seconds

This all jives with what Shanahan expects of his wide receivers -- "win early, so that he doesn't have to win late." The 49ers' head coach expects his skill-position players to separate quickly from defensive backs, win with quickness and provide a large target for his quarterback.

When looking for receivers that are quick and shifty, short shuttle and 3-cone times are vital. Based on five years of receiver choices, Shanahan clearly prioritize these physical characteristics.

So what does that mean for this year's prospects?

Jerry Jeudy, the first receiver likely to be taken in this year's NFL Draft, doesn't fit this physical mold. Here's Jeudy's numbers from Indianapolis, where he was the only one of the three top receivers to participate in the short shuttle drill.

His short shuttle time was 4.53 seconds -- which would be the slowest short shuttle time of all the receivers Shanahan acquired since his days in Atlanta. I believe that this one metric puts Jeudy out of Shanahan's attention.

The comparison that most scouts make for Jerry Jeudy is either Odell Beckham Jr. or fellow Alabama Crimson Tide receiver Amari Cooper.

Beckham Jr.'s short shuttle time was 3.94 seconds and his 3-cone time was 6.69 seconds -- both which finished at the top of his draft class. Cooper's short shuttle time was 3.98 seconds and his 3-cone time was 6.71 seconds.

While Jeudy didn't run the 3-cone, his short shuttle time isn't even in the same ballpark as Cooper or Beckham Jr.

This also fits what Kyle Shanahan's former college roommate Chris Simms has been saying about Jerry Jeudy on his podcast. "I think in my heart of hearts, though, I would think that Jerry Jeudy is not Kyle's type of guy," Simms said on the latest episode.

So if the Alabama receiver doesn't fit Shanahan's physical mold, which receivers from this draft class do? Unfortunately, since all the Pro Days were cancelled, GMs will have to draft based on the measurables from the NFL Combine and the players' game film.

Which means that we will not know these metrics for CeeDee Lamb and Henry Ruggs III.

USC's Michael Pittman and Oregon State's Isaiah Hodgins both fit Shanahan's wishes from a physical standpoint, but the next test they must pass is their performance on film. These two are players that 49ers will not draft at No. 13 overall, likely someone they can pursue in the second round after trading back from No. 31.

Regardless of Pittman and Hodgins' potential fit with San Francisco, Jerry Jeudy doesn't seem to jive with what Kyle Shanahan looks for in a receiver.


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