Scot McCloughan may no longer be in a position of evaluating players and helping make draft day decisions for the San Francisco 49ers, as the former general manager and vice president of player personnel hasn’t been inside a franchise office since 2016.
Speaking with Matt Barrows of The Athletic of Tuesday, May 10, McCloughan gave his honest takes on the newest rookie class in the Bay Area with the 49ers’ columnist. But most telling from McCloughan: He praised one rookie the 49ers got by calling him a “hell of a pick” and predicted he’ll crack the starting lineup.
Spoiler alert: It wasn’t any of the first three selections McCloughan chose. But instead a late find McCloughan is high on.
ALL the latest 49ers news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on 49ers newsletter here!
‘I Like Him’
The ’22 finding McCloughan raved about: Sixth rounder Tariq Castro-Fields.
“I like him,” McCloughan told Barrows. “I think that’s a hell of a pick.”
Turns out that McCloughan was doing his own draft evaluations of the past Penn State standout in the last three draft cycles. Via Barrows, the 51-year-old McCloughan — who was in the 49ers’ front office from 2005 to 2009 — was grading out Castro-Fields before the Nittany Lion fell to the 49ers.
“McCloughan said he wrote an evaluation on Castro-Fields for three straight draft cycles and in each one his grades was a little better,” Barrows wrote. “Two years ago, he had the Penn State cornerback as a fifth-round pick. This year it crept up to a third rounder, a grade boosted by Castro-Fields’s 4.38-second time in the 40-yard dash.”
Castro-Fields Has High Ceiling
As a day three defensive prospect, those late draft finds sometimes get buried on the depth chart. However, the 49ers saw fifth rounders Deommodore Lenoir and Talanoa Hufanga crack the starting lineup when called upon.
And in the case of Castro-Fields, McCloughan believes the sixth rounder has a high ceiling…which he says could mean future 49ers starter.
“I think he has a chance to be a pretty good player — if not a starter early, a quality backup that can play a couple of positions,” McCloughan said. “Then if you get it right, you get a starter down the line.”
The 6-foot-1, 197-pound Castro-Fields may have fallen in the draft as a member of a loaded cornerback class. But another reason why McCloughan likes TCF, he’s battled tested having played in a Big 10 that featured Ohio State first rounders Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson.
“He played a lot of football. He played against some good receivers and stood up, played pretty dang good. Like I said, he was consistent,” McCloughan said.
Castro-Fields Has Earned Praise Outside of Past Executive
McCloughan isn’t the only man who is intrigued by what the 23-year-old Castro-Fields brings.
Former NFL defensive back Eric Crocker from the Locked on 49ers Podcast shined a light on some of the coverages Castro-Fields exceled at — including how he played off coverage in this clip:
Crocker also illuminated on Castro-Field’s anticipation to the ball.
Castro-Fields is joining Samuel Womack of Toledo as incoming rookie defensive backs expected to add a nickel presence and some versatility. Here’s a stat brought up by Pro Football Focus that will appeal to the 49ers Faithful:
Though he fell to No. 221 overall, Castro-Fields won over a man who once helped draft Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, Earl Thomas, Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner during his Seattle Seahawk senior personnel executive years.