Ricky Pearsall closed out the opening night of the 2024 NFL Draft with a surprise surge into the first round. The San Francisco 49ers selected Pearsall with the 31st overall pick.

A 6-foot-1 receiver from Florida, Pearsall is quite the surprise. He was the sixth receiver drafted in the first round, but he was taken over other wideouts like Adonai Mitchell, Ladd McConkey, and Xavier Legette. Few had Pearsall mocked into the first round, and now he’ll step into a potentially fluid situation in the bay.

The Niners reportedly spent a chunk of their evening working the phones in pursuit of potential trade packages for star receivers Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk. Those 2 combined to catch 135 balls last season for 2,234 yards as the Niners advanced to Super Bowl LVIII.

If 1 or both is moved, Pearsall would instantly find himself in one of the best situations for a rookie receiver — plenty of potential volume on a team playing for something substantial.

Pearsall spent 5 years in college, the first 3 at Arizona State. He appeared in 55 games while making 159 receptions for 2,420 yards and 14 touchdowns. He never posted a 1,000-yard season, and he never had more than 5 touchdown catches in a season.

His 2 seasons at Florida were his most productive years. He made 33 receptions for 661 yards and 5 touchdowns in 2022. Last fall, he brought in a career-best 65 receptions for a career-best 965 yards and 4 scores.

From a production standpoint, this isn’t a first-round profile. The Athletic’s Dane Brugler gave Pearsall a second/third-round grade.

But Pearsall has some impressive tracking skills and excellent body control to make tough catches. The athleticism won’t wow, but he’s a smart receiver who knows how to use his body well. He can work inside or out and be a reliable route technician. There’s also some special teams versatility as a punt returner.

With his selection, the Gators now have 5 consecutive years with a first-round NFL Draft choice. He is the first Florida wide receiver to be taken in the first round since Kadarius Toney was taken 20th overall in the 2021 draft — and just the second first-round receiver since Percy Harvin was drafted.