Our friends at Mocking the Draft have dropped their latest 2014 NFL mock draft, and I'm sure it will bring a mix of criticism and support. The draft addresses some specific needs, but as always, there will be disagreement. The mock is a 2-round mock, and for the 49ers, it nets Ohio State cornerback Bradley Roby, Penn State wide receiver Allen Robinson and USC center Marcus Martin.
30. San Francisco 49ers - Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State
Both Tarell Brown and Carlos Rogers are gone and Chris Culliver was recently arrested. If the 49ers don't move up, Roby would be a good pickup at this point in the draft. He's a fast, athletic cornerback with size. His junior season didn't live up to the preseason hype, but a real argument can be made that Roby has more talent than any cornerback in this year's draft.
56. San Francisco 49ers - Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State
Although Robinson does a lot of things similar to the receivers already on San Francisco's offense, his value here is good. Robinson is a physical athlete who can go up and bring down difficult catches.
61. San Francisco 49ers - Marcus Martin, C, USC
The 49ers need to bring in some competition at center. Why not look in their backyard at one of the top center prospects in this class? Marcus Martin had an outstanding junior season and decided to leave school early. He and Weston Richburg will be battling to be the top center off the board.
There are plenty of questions people will raise, but I see two questions a bit more specific to this mock and the timing of it. The first question is about cornerbacks in light of Chris Culliver's arrest. The second question is about interior linemen, and how long the 49ers might wait to address depth in that area.
As soon as news broke that Chris Culliver had been arrested, people were demanding he be released. We'll have more from socalisteph on this issue of morality and sports a little later this morning, but in the meantime, cornerback is a pertinent position for discussion. The 49ers already had a need for it heading into the draft. Reports have indicated they were already happy with Tramaine Brock and Chris Culliver starting, but Brock and Darryl Morris are the only cornerbacks signed beyond this season. There is a need for young depth that will be around for the long haul, and could potentially take over starting roles.
I don't think the 49ers are going to release Chris Culliver anytime soon. I think the arrest likely tables contract extension discussions for some time, but I don't think it means the team is going to part ways with Culliver this offseason. However, if the team is not so sure about extending him at this point, they may decide cornerback is the way to go moving forward. Does that mean they need to grab multiple cornerbacks in the first couple rounds? It might depend in part on who slips to them. Roby is a very solid talent, and if they walked away with him as the only cornerback among their first three picks, I could live with that.
Many will contend the 49ers are unlikely to grab an interior lineman so early. They have extended Daniel Kilgore, and they've got the rest of their group in line for this season. However, Kilgore's extension is not so unwieldy as to make it unlikely the team brings in a prominent player to challenge him at center. There seems to be a common belief that it was surprising Martin came out this season, but coming off a strong campaign, he is taking advantage of strong stock.
A Day 2 offensive lineman might say as much about the long-term future of Mike Iupati as it does about the center position. Joe Looney is there to compete for guard work, but if the team looks at him as more of a utility guy, Martin could end up being a guard of the future. He played left guard in 2011 and 2012, before moving to center in his junior season. It creates potential versatility that the 49ers value. The interior line situation is relatively stable this year, but there are enough questions that it makes sense to pounce on the right talent. It's just a matter of when in the draft.