Before April 28, 2022, one San Francisco 49ers draft pick was originally considered a hot commodity on most draft boards.
After all, running a 40-yard dash time of 4.38 at the NFL Scouting Combine, leaping to a vertical jump of 37 inches at the same event, plus taking on two first rounders in Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson and helping prevent them from surpassing 100 yards in 2021 would elevate Tariq Castro-Fields of Penn State on mock boards, right?
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Lance Zierlein was one who was impressed by the overall athleticism, with the nfl.com draft expert placing him as a potential fourth rounder in his evaluation — stating he had “appealing size and traits for press-man” plus was “big, long and can run.”
Except the 6-foot-1, 197-pounder fell all the way to No. 221 to the 49ers…making him the 43rd pick of the sixth round.
Was the rookie stunned by how far he fell? That was one of the questions brought up in his first meeting with the Bay Area media on Thursday, May 12.
Castro-Fields experienced his draft day disappointment after the first two days of the draft.
“It was hard to wait,” Castro-Fields told reporters. “I was surrounded by family, my teammate K.J. Hamler came down, I had a lot of people come and support me.”
But what’s his response now?
“I just use it as fuel,” Castro-Fields declared. “Life is not fair. You never really know. So I’m just going to use that as fuel and propel myself forward. I get a new opportunity with the 49ers — a great organization. I’m blessed to be here. And I’m in Cali. Life is good.”
Despite falling that low, former 49ers general manager Scot McCloughan told The Athletic’s Matt Barrows that he likes the selection the 49ers made to get Castro-Fields, mentioned in this Heavy on 49ers story. The former 49ers executive from 2005 to 2009 told Barrows that Castro-Fields “is a hell of a pick.”
Facing ‘Best Receiver’ Also Sharpened Castro-Fields
Again, Castro-Fields enters the league having gone against Wilson (the 10th overall pick in the draft) and Olave (No. 11 overall).
However, he believes it wasn’t those two whom he considers the best he’s gone against. It was actually another first round talent who also went in the first round Castro-Fields said was the “best receiver” he went against: His teammate Jahan Dotson, the 16th overall selection in the ’22 draft.
“I feel he was the best receiver in the country,” Castro-Fields said. “So when I got to go against the O-State guys and people like that who are good at their craft as well, I knew I was ready just because I was going against ‘Han’ every practice,” Castro-Fields said.
He also played at Penn State during a time he witnessed the following: A breakout 2019 that saw him shatter personal bests in pass breakups and tackles but then followed by a truncated 2020 during the coronavirus pandemic.
Castro-Fields didn’t always get the opportunity to fully showcase his high-caliber athleticism for PSU. But he still leaves State College with a “one of a kind” experience that now has him prepared to respond to falling in the draft.
“Obviously, you want things to be better. But I grew up a lot from all these situations that happened,” Castro-Fields said. “All the ups and downs ultimately made me a better person, a better teammate…that Penn State experience was one of a kind. It’s the brotherhood we created and the fellowship we had and all the connections I made, one of a kind.”