Why Undrafted?: Devon Cajuste

By Charlie Campbell, @draftcampbell

Two years ago, we started a series of articles on why certain prospects went undrafted. In this series, I reach out to sources with NFL teams to find out why their organizations passed on drafting a given player, and/or, what were the reasons for other teams to pass on that prospect. We got a lot of positive reader feedback about the series, so we decided to expand in the genre to investigate why some prospects slid in the draft. Last year, we started the “Why the Slide?” series, and this year it is back along with “Why Undrafted?” Feel free to email me requests for “Why the Slide?” and “Why Undrafted?” at [email protected]. I can’t promise to get to all of them, but I will do my best and definitely respond.

In the passing-driven NFL, receiving tight ends are in demand. Players like Jimmy Graham and Antonio Gates are very hard to find. Those type of elite receiving tight ends are mismatch weapons who are very difficult for defenses to defend. That demand makes players like Devin Cajuste interesting. The 6-foot-3, 234-pounder is too slow and stiff to stay at wide receiver in NFL. However, some thought he could make the move to tight end and be a potential weapon there. After a quality week at the East-West Shrine, Cajuste was a potential late-round pick and developmental project at tight end. He also benefitted from a weak tight end class, but went undrafted.

Sources say the reason that Cajuste went undrafted was because teams felt that Cajuste was far behind in his development for the position change. He was too straight-line as a route-runner and teams question his agility. Obviously, they knew he would need a lot of work on his blocking, but he also is a real project as a receiving tight end. Teams felt that Cajuste just needed too much work to warrant being a draft pick.

After going undrafted, Cajuste signed with the San Francisco 49ers and that was a quality team selection. Head coach Chip Kelly has a tight end friendly offense and likes receiving tight ends. Cajuste will enter into a competition for a roster spot with Vance McDonald, Blake Bell, Garrett Celek, Je’Ron Hamm and Busta Anderson. None of them has established themselves as the true heir apparent to Vernon Davis. Thus, Cajuste has a good opportunity to compete for the 53-man roster or practice squad. A year on the practice squad could be the best route toward developing Cajuste.

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