He’s spent the entirety of his collegiate career proving the doubters wrong, and now he’ll have the chance to do it again: Devon Cajuste has signed with the San Francisco 49ers after going undrafted in the 2016 NFL Draft.
Cajuste was told after high school that he would have to switch to tight end to play at the collegiate level and came to Stanford in part because the Cardinal were going to let him stay at wide receiver. After college, he was met with doubt because he wasn’t perceived as fast enough to play receiver in the NFL.
But after posting a disappointing 4.62 in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, Cajuste bounced back with a blazing 4.42 at Pro Day, which would combine with his 6-foot-4, 234-pound frame to make him a matchup challenge even for the defensive backs of the NFL. Not only did he excel in the 40, but at the combine, he also posted a stunning 6.49 in the three-cone drill, which was the fifth-best time in the event in a decade and was frankly ludicrous given his size (the three-cone drill is an agility drill that usually favors smaller receivers).
Combine that with the fact that he posted an average of 17.7 yards per catch in his time at Stanford, and the 49ers might well have picked up a sneakily underrated pro prospect in Cajuste, who might have a frame that puts him between positions, but whose athleticism is second-to-none.
Although Cajuste’s Stanford numbers regressed from 2013-15 in his seasons of consistent playing time, that wasn’t indicative of his play as much as it was a shift towards running the ball more and throwing to tight ends again in 2015. In his senior season, Cajuste caught 27 passes for 383 yards and 3 touchdowns, including quite possibly the biggest of them all, a 27-yard reception up the seam against Notre Dame to set up a huge Senior Day victory for the Cardinal over the Irish.
Over his Stanford career, Cajuste caught 90 passes for 1,589 yards and 14 touchdowns and was known for his great hands and crisp route-running, which made him a tremendous threat in space down the middle of the field. His size also made him a top red-zone and third-down target for quarterback Kevin Hogan on contested balls.
Cajuste will join first-round pick Joshua Garnett on the 49ers and will be coached by former Oregon head coach Chip Kelly.
Contact Do-Hyoung Park at dhpark ‘at’ stanford.edu.