The NFL Draft is nine days away, and Mel Kiper is back with his latest 2016 NFL mock draft. He followed Todd McShay's lead and put together his "grade A" mock draft for three rounds of fun. The idea behind it is that rather than projecting how the draft will go, he looks at each team's best pick in each round. He describes this more as viewing value up and down the board, rather than which team might like a guy more than a team earlier in the draft.
In this mock, Kiper got the 49ers offensive line help with Notre Dame offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley at No. 7. In the second round, he followed McShay's lead and selected Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch. Finally, in the third round, he found some inside linebacker help with West Virginia linebacker Nick Kwiatkowski. Here's what Kiper had to say in discussing the three picks:
This is a tough spot at No. 7. The way the board breaks -- with Cleveland taking Wentz -- I'm not left with my first choice for the Niners, which is to draft a quarterback. Stanley not only hits a clear need at offensive tackle, but he's a very good athlete who could thrive under Kelly. If he didn't come off the board here, he's gone at one of the next couple spots. So I get my quarterback in Round 2. If you say Lynch is a developmental guy, you're absolutely right. This gives me a year to see how it works with Chip Kelly and Colin Kaepernick, and Lynch is close to nothing against the cap at this spot. Kwiatkoski is an immediate help at inside linebacker, where we need it here.
The most notable thing here is that he has the 49ers skipping DeForest Buckner to select Stanley. His top six was a familiar refrain:
1. Rams - Jared Goff, QB, Cal
2. Browns - Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State
3. Chargers - Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss
4. Cowboys - Jalen Ramsey, DB, Florida State
5. Jaguars - Myles Jack, ILB, UCLA
6. Ravens - Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State
If the top six goes in this order, how do you see the 49ers pick shaking out? Do they pick Buckner or Stanley, do they surprise us with somebody else, or do they trade down?