Mel Kiper's third mock draft for 2011 serves as the foundation for discussing how NFC West teams might proceed this offseason.
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: There were a lot of comments questioning why I could see my No. 1 overall Big Board player dropping this far on draft day. But consider the history: in 1987, I had Rod Woodson rated similarly, and he fell to No. 10 overall. In 1989, Deion Sanders was far and away the best athlete on the board -- he fell to No. 5. Champ Bailey was my best athlete and the top corner available in the 1999 draft, and he fell to No. 7. At this position, it simply happens, and San Fran should be happy if it does. Peterson is an immense talent. He checked in at 219 pounds and ran a 4.34 40-time in Indy. Enough said.
Sando's take: Yes, elite cornerbacks do tend last longer on draft day. I recall Mike Holmgren once saying his former defensive coordinator, Fritz Shurmur, only cared about front-seven players when drafting for defense. The drafts Kiper singled out -- 1987, 1989 and 1999 -- featured consensus No. 1 overall quarterbacks at the top. Vinny Testaverde went first in 1987. Troy Aikman followed in 1989. Tim Couch, Donovan McNabb and Akili Smith went 1-2-3 in 1999. The current draft class does not yet have a consensus No. 1 overall choice. That could make it easier for a non-quarterback to threaten for the top choice. The 49ers would be thrilled, in my view, if Peterson were there for them at No. 7.