SB Nation released its latest 2011 NFL Mock Draft yesterday and they've expanded their mock to include both the first and the second round of the upcoming 2011 NFL Draft. I'm of the belief that while much of the first round could potentially be mocked out with some level of certainty, anything beyond that is a sizable crap-shoot. That's not to say it's not valuable to have this kind of information, but it must be taken with the usual grain of salt.
This preliminary two round mock draft has the 49ers selecting Texas A&M OLB Von Miller with the seventh overall pick and Virginia CB Ras-I Dowling with the 45th overall pick. Over the previous three weeks the 49ers were grabbing Prince Amukamara in SB Nation's mock drafts. However, this week's draft sees Auburn QB Cam Newton rise into the top six with the Arizona Cardinals selecting him as their QB of the future.
7. San Francisco 49ers: Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M. Pass rusher isn't necessarily San Francisco's biggest need, but Miller is a difference-maker and a leader; Jim Harbaugh would love him.
45. San Francisco 49ers: Ras-I Dowling, CB, Virginia. Whether Dowling is playing cornerback or safety in the pros, he'd fill a need for the 49ers, who lack coverage talent in their secondary.
For those wondering about Dowling, Scouts Inc and Draft Countdown both rate him as the No. 6 cornerback available. Draft Tek has him as the No. 10 cornerback. Scouts Inc really seems to like him as they rate him as exceptional for his instincts and run support, and above average for his cover skills and ball skills. They had some interesting comments thought about his work in coverage (Insider Protected):
Can hold up in certain man-to-man matchups but would need deep-safety support versus NFL WRs with upper-echelon quickness. Has some tightness in hips and while top-end speed is adequate, he does not have recovery burst to make up for false steps in man-coverage. At his best in zone coverage ... Has the size, long arms, strong upper body and physical mentality to succeed with some good coaching in the NFL.
In reading through this scouting report, Dowling seems like a guy who could be a really solid corner in the NFL, but maybe not necessarily the lockdown type along the lines of Patrick Peterson (although even Scouts Inc thinks Peterson lacks a certain extra gear). If the 49ers grabbed a guy like Von Miller in the first round, it seems like the idea would be developing an elite pass rusher to help improve solid cornerback play.
My initial question would be what could be expected of a guy like Dowling as a rookie? Could he come in and compete immediately for a starting spot, or would he be more likely competing for nickel playing time? If so, what does this mean for Tarell Brown?