NFL Mock Draft Database 2012: Pre-40 Edition

After putting it off for weeks and weeks, I decided last night that it was time to get our annual mock draft database back together. Mock drafts are as much for generating discussion as they are for actually predicting what will happen in April. However, they do give us an idea of what much of the world is thinking about some of the given draft picks. And so, we bring you the 2012 Niners Nation NFL Mock Draft Database.

For those of you that are new to Niners Nation since last year's draft, every year we create a database of mock drafts to give us an idea of what people think of the 49ers draft possibilities. We break down 30 mock drafts in part because there are an endless supply of mocks and this is more just about taking a sample of them.

I decided to get it going now in part because the NFL Combine is really humming by this point. Offensive linemen and tight ends did the bench press yesterday, but start running the 40 and running the other drills today. Mock drafts might not change drastically over the next few days, but some players will be boosted and some players will be hurt by their performance this weekend.

It should surprise nobody that of half the mocks have the 49ers selecting a wide receiver with their first round pick. Of those 15 picks, 12 are split evenly between Rutgers WR Mohamed Sanu and South Carolina receiver Alshon Jeffery. Some of these will potentially change if a guy like Peter Konz (two mocks) does not rebound from a poor Friday bench press. Of course, I also don't think the 49ers invest a first round pick in a center, but that's another question entirely.

How useful are these mock drafts (FanPost link)? Well, I wouldn't say they are useless, but they are definitely not the greatest of predictors. You can look back at some of our previous mock drafts to see how good or bad they have gone:

2011: Only one of our mock drafts had the 49ers selecting Aldon Smith. 11 went with Patrick Peterson and 8 went with Robert Quinn.

2010: The 49ers had two picks, so there were all sorts of combinations. 17 mocks had the 49ers selecting Joe Haden. 13 mocks had the 49ers selecting Anthony Davis, although all 13 had it with the latter pick. 5 had the 49ers picking Mike Iupati. None had the two together.

2009: Four mocks had the 49ers selecting Michael Crabtree, although most would agree the Oakland Raiders made this pick happen with their selection of Darrius Heyward-Bey. Michael Oher and Brian Orakpo led the way in our mocks with five selections apiece.

2008: Two of the mocks had the 49ers drafting Kentwan Balmer. Indiana WR James Hardy led with nine selections, Boston College OT Gosder Cherilus was next with seven and Auburn OLB Quentin Groves was next with six.

With all that in mind, I think the most useful thing to take from mock drafts is really the discussion about potential positions and the general thought of how much outside people actually know the 49ers. As I mentioned above, I don't see center being a position the 49ers address in the first round.

Of course, we don't really know what the 49ers will be thinking in terms of best player available. One random draft pick could put the 49ers in a position where they feel they have to trade down or up. Another random draft pick and they get some player miraculously dropping to them.

When we are talking about the number 30 pick, I have to think the accuracy of mock drafts drops considerably. Given the numerous combinations of the first 29 picks, getting pick 30 right can be as much dumb luck as anything else. It won't stop us from checking out these mocks and putting together some of our own, but they all are meant to be taken with a grain of salt.

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