Mel Kiper's second mock draft for 2011 serves as a good conversation starter for NFC West fans looking forward to April.
I'll continue with a look at his plans for the San Francisco 49ers, who hold the No. 7 overall choice.
7. San Francisco 49ers: Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU
Kiper's give: San Francisco has other needs -- in fact, I count three ahead of cornerback -- but Peterson would be too much to pass up here in terms of talent. A freakish athlete, he immediately steps in as a starter at corner, moving that to a position of strength for the Niners. Peterson also adds a dangerous element in the return game. A corner with safety size, Peterson won't need the NFL combine to assure evaluators of his physical skills.
Sando's take: Kiper had Peterson going second overall in his previous mock, with the 49ers taking defensive end Robert Quinn at No. 7. Quinn fell to Minnesota at No. 12 in this second mock. As for the 49ers, cornerback is a concern. The team could be parting with veteran starter Nate Clements. Clements has been injured and inconsistent over the past couple seasons, and his salary balloons in 2011. Cornerback is a primary need, but I get what Kiper is saying. Quarterback and pass-rusher are more valuable positions. Cam Newton was the only quarterback off the board at No. 7 in this latest Kiper mock. I've heard some say the 49ers can't afford to take another quarterback early after missing on Alex Smith at No. 1 in 2005, but what kind of thinking is that? The truth, in my view, is that San Francisco cannot afford to miss on another quarterback early in the draft. If the team likes one in this draft, there's no reason to go in another direction.