We're still over a month away from the 2014 NFL Draft, but hopefully we'll pick up some steam soon. Damn you NFL for moving it back!
Mel Kiper is back with another 2014 NFL mock draft, but he does try and mix it up a little. There are no trades, but he came up with some "ground rules" for the mock. I think it's more just covering his butt to cut down the complaining about his mocks, but whatever:
1. At each spot, I make a pick in the best interest of only the team with the pick. I won't pass on a player at No. 5 just because I like how he fits better at No. 7 or No. 10.
2. There are no trades. I note team needs, but not all picks are specifically to hit a need -- same as the draft.
3. This is NOT A PROJECTION. It's more a look at how I currently value players at each slot.
In breaking down the 49ers, he lists their top needs as cornerback, wide receiver, center and defensive line. As with a lot of mocks, I think it reads as someone who either is not sold on Daniel Kilgore, or hasn't done enough research to know he has a good chance of being the front-runner at center. I don't think drafting a center in the second or third round is necessarily the worst idea in the world, but I wonder if draftniks are making assumptions that could prove inaccurate. This happens no matter, so maybe it's less wondering.
Kiper's mock is three rounds in length. Here is his 49ers draft class:
Round 1 (30) CB Lamarcus Joyner, Florida St.
Round 2 (56) C Marcus Martin, USC (from KC)
Round 2 (61) WR Josh Huff, Oregon
Round 3 (77) DT Dominique Easley, Florida (from TEN)
Round 3 (94) CB Nevin Lawson, Utah St.
Round 3 (100) QB/TE Logan Thomas, Virginia Tech (Comp)
In breaking down the 49ers draft class, he has the following analysis:
This draft sequence is something of a bet that the offensive line remains relatively stable if I get the needed help at center (Martin), and that even if NaVorro Bowman takes his time coming back, the linebacking corps will remain solid. The early priority is grabbing a capable corner, and Joyner can provide impact right away as a Tyrann Mathieu-type, a guy who can play corner, particularly in the slot, and provide time at safety. Huff isn't a burner, but he's more of a developmental project than some other receivers who will be taken in this range. Easley is an early-first round talent coming back from yet another knee injury, but at this point in the draft, getting that kind of talent is worth the shot. If he can spell Ray McDonald and Justin Smith effectively, everyone gets better. I like Lawson as a sleeper and possible corner help, and I love the idea of letting Jim Harbaugh work with Thomas as a developmental project at either QB or tight end. (Thomas really could pull off the conversion if he wanted to.)
There are some intriguing picks in here, but also plenty of question marks. Considering it's a Mel Kiper mock, I suppose that should not be a surprise.
There were no trades in the mock, so it is a little difficult to fully assess the 49ers execution in the draft. In Kiper's mock, five cornerbacks went before the 49ers, including Justin Gilbert, Darqueze Dennard, Bradley Roby, Kyle Fuller and Jason Verrett. The latter three went in consecutive order for picks 24, 25 and 26. I'm not down on a Joyner pick, but knowing the 49ers can get aggressive in trading, I'm not sure I see the first round going down quite like this.
The decision to draft Josh Huff strikes me as an odd one. Every set of wide receiver rankings I've seen has him down around the 18-20 range. These are all media-based speculation, so we can only put so much into them. However, it remains odd for now. And Kiper even points to him as a developmental prospect. My guess is he sees the 49ers fine with Anquan Boldin and Michael Crabtree, and so it makes sense to go more for a project than a guy who can contribute right away. I'm not a big fan of this, in part because the 49ers have not exactly done a stellar job developing wide receiver talent.
We'll see if the 49ers, or anybody else, jumps on Huff as a great option. In Kiper's mock, when the 49ers draft Huff, wide receivers still on the board include Martavis Bryant, Allen Robinson, Brandon Coleman, Robert Herron and Bruce Ellington.