Mel Kiper released the final iteration of his 2011 NFL Mock Draft and his 49ers prediction has made a slight detour from recent mocks. Until recently, he had consistently predicted Patrick Peterson would drop to the 49ers. Finally he seemed to wise up to the reality that it is just not going to happen. As much as I as a 49ers fan would like to see Peterson in the Bay Area, I'm really not holding my breath. So, in his latest mock, Mel Kiper projects Missouri QB Blaine Gabbert to the 49ers.
I picked Peterson to fall to this point in my previous mock draft, but I don't think he gets there this time around. He offers too much trade leverage. This time, I think Gabbert lands here. While Jim Harbaugh has taken the dignified route and stated how much he wants to work with Alex Smith, I think it's pretty fair to assume the Niners will be looking for a long-term solution for their new coach. Harbaugh's track record says he should have confidence he can turn Gabbert's solid skill-set into something at the NFL level. Like Newton, this isn't a quarterback you want starting games in 2011, but if San Francisco is patient, Gabbert is a player it can build with.
If Gabbert was there at the seventh pick, It is hard to tell if the 49ers would grab him, grab somebody else, or even try and move down. There have been rumors the Redskins might be looking to move up to grab Gabbert, but like everything else we hear leading up to Thursday's Draft, it's hard to tell what is BS and what is fact. In reality it's impossible to tell since the 49ers wisely enough are keeping quiet about their plans.
It will be interesting to see how Mel's mock draft plays out. Last year he predicted the 49ers would draft Bryan Bulaga and Joe Haden. They went with Anthony Davis and Mike Iupati. The draft is such a crap-shoot that even a guy who spends 365 days a year analyzing players will rarely be all that accurate. It makes the next three days all the more interesting.