Mel Kiper released his latest mock draft, reflecting the recently reported Percy Harvin trade. This kind of trade shows why mock drafts can be a little hard to take seriously before free agency gets going. Teams make moves that fill needs, or create new needs. We can speculate on where teams might be looking, but it will change frequently.
For the purposes of mock drafts moving forward, if there was any question about what the Vikings would be looking at in the first round, it might have been answered. Generally teams should not feel a need to reach for a position, but if there ever was a team in that position, it's the Vikings. They have traded away Percy Harvin, Jerome Simpson is a free agent and Michael Jenkins was cut. Their best receiver right now is Jarius Wright, who caught 22 passes for 310 yards and two touchdowns last year.
This is pertinent to the 49ers because they can start to pencil in positions likely to go ahead of them. We had discussed the potential for the 49ers to draft a wide receiver in the first. If that were on their radar, this would potentially impact that decision. And if the 49ers are not looking to draft a receiver, all the better. Any move that pushes a non-option up the draft board is a good one for the 49ers.
Kiper's mock has the 49ers selecting defensive end Datone Jones. Previously he had the 49ers selecting defensive tackle Jonathan Jenkins. Here are his thoughts on the pick and how free agency could impact things:
Pick analysis: Justin Smith will be 34 in September, and the 49ers need to think about who could take over for him long term, and spell him in the interim. Jones can provide an interior pass-rushing presence. He gets a great burst, and knows how to take on blocks, use leverage and find seams.
Free-agency factor: This roster is too loaded for the 49ers to make significant moves in free agency. They also have a boatload of draft picks and could be active in moving around, trying to maximize picks or even moving way up on the board.
Defensive line makes a lot of sense for the 49ers. The team re-signed Ian Williams, but there are additional long term concerns on the edge, particularly with Justin Smith nearing the end of his career. The team will be adding defensive line help sooner rather than later in the draft.