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Comparing Mel Kiper’s first NFL mock drafts for the past four years

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He’s been way off on some, and close on others.

The start of the offseason has brought with it Mel Kiper’s first 2018 NFL mock draft. He has the San Francisco 49ers selecting Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward in the first round, and has Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen as his No. 1 overall pick.

He will release at least two or three more mock drafts before the end of April, and plenty will change. But in the meantime, I thought it would be fun to look back at some of his first offseason mock drafts the past few years.

Last year, Kiper had the 49ers picking North Carolina quarterback Mitchell Trubisky with the No. 2 overall pick. He had eventual 49ers pick Solomon Thomas going No. 9 to the Cincinnati Bengals.

In 2016, Kiper had the 49ers picking Ole Miss wide receiver Laquon Treadwell with the No. 7 overall pick. He had eventual 49ers pick DeForest Buckner going No. 4 to the Dallas Cowboys. Treadwell ended up going No. 23 to the Minnesota Vikings. Some other notable differences in Kiper’s first mock that year: Carson Wentz went No. 22 to the Houston Texans, while Ezekiel Elliott went No. 29 to the Denver Broncos.

In 2015, Kiper had the 49ers selecting West Virginia wide receiver Kevin White with the No. 15 overall pick. He had eventual 49ers pick Arik Armstead going No. 17 to the Chargers. It was a fitting coincidence, as on draft day, the 49ers dealt down from No. 15 to No. 17 to select Armstead.

These show mock drafts that were way off in some regards, but also pretty close in others. There is some insight to be gleaned, but a lot of times it is also plenty of guess-work. We saw countless early mocks suggesting the 49ers absolutely had to go with Mitchell Trubisky, or some other quarterback to kickstart their rebuilding process. That did transition to a majority of them suggesting Solomon Thomas. It is worth noting that Mel Kiper’s final mock draft last year had Mitchell Trubisky going No. 1 and Myles Garrett going to the 49ers.

This year, the 49ers have all sorts of opportunities at their disposal. With three or four quarterbacks likely to be regularly mocked in the top eight picks, I imagine mock drafts will whittle down to four or five recurring names for the 49ers. It will be worth tracking to see how the names change, and if we see a favorite emerges.