Photo of Ahkello Witherspoon
Drafted By: 49ers
  • Round 3
  • Pick 2
  • Overall 66

Combine Results

Grade
5.71 ?
  • 4.45 SEC
    Top Performer
  • 40.5 INCH
    Top Performer
  • 127.0 INCH
    Top Performer
  • 6.93 SEC
    Top Performer
  • 4.13 SEC
    Top Performer
  • 11.60 SEC
    Top Performer
Blue Star  =  Combine Top Performer

Draft Analysis:

"You love the size and the speed combination that he brings to the table. ... Witherspoon is the most intriguing of all of Colorado's defenders. I also think he is the most inconsistent of all of them." -- Charles Davis

  • 6'3" Height
  • 33" Arm Length
  • 198LBS. Weight
  • 9 7/8" Hands

Overview

Witherspoon has an interesting family history. His father, Lucky, was a running back at Nevada. His grandfather, Jimmy, was a blues artist who had a number one hit on the R&B charts in 1949 called "Ain't Nobody's Business". Witherspoon's given first name is actually James, but he goes by Ahkello, the first of two middle names (Elec). The pre-med student went to junior college after high school to play football; he was 5-foot-8 as a high school senior but listed at 6-foot-3 during his one year at Sacramento City Community College (where he had three INT, seven PBU). He moved on to Colorado in 2014, playing in 10 games and starting one (12 tackles, two PBU) before becoming a part-time starter the following season (41 tackles, two INT, four PBU). Witherspoon was one of three members of the Buffaloes' secondary that were named second-team All-Pac-12 in the program's bounce-back season. He tied with teammate Tedric Thompson with a nation-leading 23 passes defensed on the year (one INT, 22 PBU), while Chibode Awuzie was the other part of that trio.

Analysis

Strengths

Exceptional combination of size and speed. Hips are fluid and feet are fast. Opens hips and gets to top speed quickly with long, easy strides to chase receivers down the field. Plus athleticism allows for quick recovery when beaten early off release. Showed marked improvement in his instincts and overall feel for coverage. Is beginning to recognize patterns and play ahead of the routes. Played multiple sports growing up including baseball which helped sharpen hand-eye coordination and ball skills. Takes playmaking angles to the ball and defends the catch point with tremendous timing. His 2016 completion percentage against was just 26.5. Tied for second in nation in passes defensed with 20. Was a long time soccer player and has the foot quickness to mirror match receivers.

Weaknesses

Has a gangly frame that is all arms and legs. Will have to add more functional strength to compete against NFL physicality. Keeps weight too far back in his backpedal. Technique somewhat raw and still needs refining. For all his ball skills, ended up with just three interceptions in 143 targets. Had some balance and footwork issues when matching receivers through route breaks. Tape of his run support is not for the weak. Almost always in a state of retreat when run heads his way. Unwilling to step downhill and stick his nose in to help contain the edge. Passivity against the run cost his team two touchdowns against Michigan.

Draft Projection

Rounds 2-3

NFL Comparison

Patrick Robinson

Bottom Line

Possesses a rare combination of size and speed and saw his ball production take a substantial leap this season. Witherspoon played just one season of high school football so his technique and route awareness should continue to improve. Witherspoon's length and his ability to mirror and match in space should launch him into early playing time, but his unwillingness to tackle and hit will be a complete turn-off for some teams.
-Lance Zierlein
C
Grade Title
9.00-10 Once-in-lifetime player
8.00-9.00 Perennial All-Pro
7.50-7.99 Future All-Pro
7.00-7.49 Pro Bowl to All-Pro Ability
6.50-6.99 Good NFL Starter with Pro Bowl Potential
6.00-6.49 Chance to become good NFL starter
5.70-5.99 Could become early NFL starter
5.30-5.69 Backup or eventual starter
5.15-5.29 Developmental prospect or special teams potential
5.01-5.14 Back end of the roster
5.00 50/50 Chance of making the roster

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