Just got off a conference call with Mike Mayock, the NFL Network’s draft expert. Not a lot of 49ers-specific questions but he did have a few interesting responses about players the 49ers might be interested in.
· LB Quentin Groves. Mayock said he didn’t think that Groves was first-round material. “I think he’s a reach in the first round,” Mayock said. “Mostly because he was inconsistent and he’s had some personal issues and off-the-field concerns.” As many of you have noted, some mock drafts have Groves going late in the second round. It’s obvious that there’s some information about Groves that teams don’t like. The question is whether the 49ers, who have been able to reassure themselves about other players with personal problems, feel they can do the same with Groves.
· DE Phillip Merling. Mayock said he thought Merling, who will interview in Santa Clara, is one of the most intriguing players because he has not been able to work out due to a sports hernia. Mayock said he thought Merling was a Top 15 type of player who might fall further because of the injury. He said the situation reminded him of that of tight end Heath Miller, who fell all the way to Pittsburgh at the end of the first round in 2005. “I remember Bill Cowher giggling and laughing and (saying) ‘Can you believe he fell all the way to us?’” Mike Nolan and the 49ers also were eying Miller that year, hoping he’d fall to them at pick 33. He didn’t and they chose Davis Baas.
· DL Trevor Laws. Mayock pointed out Laws’ massive tackle total at Notre Dame and the fact that even though he's a tad over 6-feet Laws blocked six kicks. “That tells me he understands football and leverage and goes 100 percent every play.” You have to believe the 49ers are impressed with the same qualities. The question is whether Laws fits their scheme.
· OT Gosder Cherilus. Mayock said the draft was very deep in offensive tackles and that he had BC’s Cherilus ranked as the fifth-best among them. He said he thought Cherilus would go somewhere between pick 25 and 32.
· Mayock said one of the most intriguing dramas heading into the draft would be the second quarterback taken. He’s a huge Matt Ryan guy and figures Ryan will go very early. But those teams that pass on a quarterback – Atlanta, for example –might want to trade back into the first round to grab the guy they feel is the No. 2 quarterback. That’s where the 49ers, at pick No. 29, could come into play.
-- Matt Barrows