Searching for Gold: Why Drew Dalman Should be Drafted by 49ers in Round 6
Image Credit: Stanford Athletics
2021 NFL Draft
Round 6 (pick 194): Drew Dalman – C – Stanford
Hometown: Salinas. California
Major: Mechanical Engineering
To say that I was delighted when I realised that Drew Dalman was still available at pick 194 would be an understatement. Geoff Castaneda set out perfectly in his article last week why the center position is so important in a Kyle Shanahan offense and the signing of Alex Mack should provide a great boost to the line this year. However, Mack is 35 years old now and can’t go on forever so what better situation than taking a sixth-round rookie to learn from a master and eventually take over?
Succession planning is vital in the NFL and Dalman would give the 49ers the opportunity to avoid the recent musical chairs they have experienced in this vital position.
I Think I’ve Heard That Name Somewhere Before?
Indeed you have.
His father, Chris Dalman, was also drafted in the sixth round by the 49ers (history repeating!) in 1993. Nothing makes you feel older than remembering when a prospect’s dad was drafted and this year is littered with the offspring of former NFL stars (Surtain II, Horn, and Samuel Jr., to name but three).
He started 64 games in seven seasons with the team on the offensive line, winning Super Bowl XXIX in 1995. Boasting almost identical height and weight measurements to his son, Chris was also a local product, drafted from Stanford. Clearly, the o-line genes never skipped a generation in the Dalman family and Drew is now hoping to follow in his father’s footsteps.
A Chip off the Old Block?
He certainly is. Drew Dalman was Monterey Herald Defensive Player of the Year in 2016 and was also on the track team. He was heavily recruited out of California’s Palma High School, the recipient of 10 scholarship offers in 2017 from notable programs such as Arizona, Colorado and Fresno State. Eventually though, he decided to follow in his father’s footsteps and commit to Stanford.
Dalman was a three-year starter at Stanford, starting every game at center in the past two seasons, picking up All-Pac-12 honors in the process. He earned recognition both outside and inside the program, and his notable leadership qualities led to his selection as a team captain. He won the Jim Reynolds Award which is given to the senior player whose courage on the field and devotion to the game are an inspiration to all. He also collected the Tommy Vardell Award for the junior or senior player who best epitomizes excellence in both academics and athletics. This was a testament to his academic performance as a mechanical engineering major who will graduate this summer as well as his sporting excellence.
The following clip focuses on his award of Pac-12 Offensive Lineman of the Week after Stanford’s win over UW.
Reading various scouting reports, the word explosive pops up several times. He is regarded as a good athlete, capable of getting to the second level and pulling across the line of scrimmage. These abilities sound tailor-made for the zone-blocking scheme that the 49ers run. He was exceptional in run blocking according to PFF, posting a 90.1 grade, and finishing the season as their fourth-highest graded center(86.9). As evidenced by his academic achievements, Dalman is regarded as a smart player who is NFL-ready in terms of technique and awareness. He also has some positional versatility, starting games at guard as well as at center.
In the video below, you can hear him talk about acclimatising to the college game after High School and it is notable how confidently he speaks at such a young age.
His size is only average by today’s NFL standards, and it puts him at a disadvantage against power rushers. This can lead to balance issues against the more powerful defensive linemen. He sometimes struggles to anchor in pass protection and was graded at only 68.6 as a pass blocker by PFF.
Drew Dalman is a prospect who, due to his size limitations and perceived lack of scheme versatility,will not be considered early by some teams. For a team such as San Francisco utilising a zone blocking scheme, he could be a perfect fit as his strengths align perfectly with qualities valued by the team. Kyle Shanahan loves athletic, mobile linemen who can get to the second level and help the run game and there were few college prospects better at this than Dalman. He is projected to go anywhere between rounds four and six,but should he last to 194 overall, he would make an excellent developmental prospect as understudy to Mack who could potentially take Brunskill’s place at right guard in the meantime.
If nothing else, it would certainly make an interesting story on Day 3 of the draft but I think that this pick has the potential to be much more than a neat story and could provide excellent depth at a position of need for the 49ers.
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