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March 13, 2009
Lombardi has surprise pick at No. 10

Interesting. I just watched Michael Lombardi present a fascinating Top 10 mock draft on NFL Network. Lombardi has the 49ers taking ... drum roll, please ... Tennessee defensive end Robert Ayers with the 10th pick. Ayers definitely was one of the guys who jumped out at the Senior Bowl in January. But unlike other practice-week stars like B.J. Raji, Ayers also came up big in the game, and he's been one of the fastest risers over the last few months.

All mock drafts, especially ones in March, should be eyed suspiciously. But it's notable that Lombardi is the only ex-GM in the mock business, and that gives him automatic credibility. One of the questions about Ayers is whether he is agile enough to stand up and play linebacker in a 3-4. After a week of Senior Bowl practice, the 49ers came away thinking that Ayers could indeed handle that transition. And besides, the team already has had success with another Tennessee DE-turned-LB, Parys Haralson.

The rest of Lombardi's mock:

  1. Detroit: QB Matt Stafford

  2. Rams: OT Eugene Monroe

  3. Chiefs: LB Aaron Curry

  4. Seahawks: DT B.J. Raji

  5. Browns: LB Brian Orakpo

  6. Bengals: OT Jason Smith

  7. Raiders: OT Andre Smith

  8. Jaguars: QB Mark Sanchez

  9. Packers: LB Aaron Maybin

  10. 49ers: DE Robert Ayers

Of course, it's notable that WR Michael Crabtree was not in Lombardi's Top 10. Would the 49ers, who are light at that position, really allow Crabtree to slip past them? They might if they signed Torry Holt, who became a free agent today. Sorry, no info - yet - on whether the 49ers will pursue Holt.

Why Holt would come here:

  1. Plenty of cap space

  2. Opening at No. 1 receiver

  3. Chance to play STL twice a year

Why he wouldn't:

  1. Power-running offense might not be attractive

  2. Would rather play for a proven winner

By the way, you have to wonder what the roster would have looked like today had Mike Martz been retained. Just sayin' ....

-- Matt Barrows


Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.


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