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TE Brayden Willis
TE Brayden Willis

With San Francisco's seventh pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, the 49ers selected Brayden Willis from the University of Oklahoma 247th overall.

Keep reading to learn more about San Francisco's newest tight end.

Texas MVP

Willis attended James Martin High School in Arlington, Texas, where he was ranked the 19th tight end in the nation by ESPN.

He finished his high school career with 56 receptions for 909 yards and 10 touchdowns. The tight end was named Texas District 4-6A's Most Valuable Player his senior year.

"Weight Room Willy"

Almost every player is given a nickname at some point during their football careers.

Willis earned the nickname "Weight Room Willy" in college for his work ethic and strength in the weight room.

The Podcast on the Prairie

As a student athlete at the University of Oklahoma, Willis also co-hosted a podcast with his college teammate, TE Jeremiah Hall.

Started in August of 2021, the Oklahoma teammates named their show "The Podcast on the Prairie." Willis and Hall discuss Sooner sports, share life advice and invite special guests such as college athletes and coaches on their show.

NFL Combine Performance

At the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine, Willis ran the three-cone drill in 7.3 seconds and the 20-yard shuttle in 4.36 seconds, along with a 32-inch vertical jump, a broad jump of 9 feet, 9 inches and 20 bench press reps.

NFL analyst Lance Zierlein outlined Willis' biggest strengths as:

  • Careful to center up the block with balance
  • Body control to adjust and make blocks in space
  • Latches into opponents with strong hands
  • No hesitation working into the middle of the field
  • Makes focus catches with traffic nearby
  • Good toughness in run after catch

Draft Steal

Selecting Willis in the seventh round was a steal for the 49ers, as the team's personnel graded his talents at a fifth-round level, the same round star tight end George Kittle was drafted in.

"We had him ranked really high," 49ers general manager John Lynch said. "So when he was still around, it made a lot of sense... He's got a lot of versatility to his game. He's a guy who kind of embodies what we like in terms of after the balls in his hands. He can do some special things, play some tight end, play some fullback, a nice tool to move around. Made a lot of big plays for Oklahoma, former quarterback, real smart, cerebral kid. You can put a lot on him. So when he was still there, it just made sense for us."

In his last season at Oklahoma, Willis started in all 13 games and totaled 514 yards (ranked second on team) and a team-high seven touchdowns on 39 receptions, also completing his only pass attempt for a touchdown. That season, his seven receiving touchdowns tied for fifth-most nationally among college tight ends.

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