Mel Kiper, the dean of draft prognosticators, just took part in a conference call. The draft - in case you've been under a rock - is now nine days away. Here's what Mel had to say about some topics that might interest 49ers fans. Kiper, by the way, is sticking to his guns by predicting that San Francisco will select Penn State DE/OLB Aaron Maybin.
- Kiper said he didn't envision any teams that pick in the top five or six trading down. There's been speculation that the Seahawks, which have the No. 4 pick, would trade with a team that wants USC quarterback Mark Sanchez. Kiper, however, said a more likely scenario involving Sanchez would involve either Jacksonville at no. 8 or San Francisco at no. 10.
- Kiper seemed extremely high on Sanchez. He said he thought Sanchez was a cross between Chad Pennington and Troy Aikman. (He has Pennington's mobility and Aikman's accuracy.) If Sanchez had stayed another year at USC, Kiper said, he would be battling Oklahoma's Sam Bradford to be the No. 1 pick in 2010. And yet Kiper, in his latest mock, has Sanchez going to Washington at pick No. 13. Kiper said he wanted to place Sanchez higher but was told (by whom, it's not clear) not to. He said he wanted to place him at No. 10 in the mock but "was told the 49ers aren't going to take a quarterback." (I don't think the 49ers are going to take a QB, but I swear it wasn't me who told Mel.)
- Texas DE-LB Brian Orakpo is a possibility for the 49ers at No. 10. Kiper agreed that players out of Texas haven't always lived up to their billing and that NFL that teams have noted that trend. Kiper said he thought Orakpo, a DE at Texas, would be able to stand up and play linebacker in a 3-4 scheme like the 49ers run. The big question about Orakpo, according to Kiper: "Can he stay at full strength for a long, 16-game season?" Orakpo was slowed by injuries at Texas.
- Kiper didn't see B.J. Raji falling too far due to the rumors of a positive drug test at the combine. He said Jacksonville, Green Bay at No. 9 and San Francisco all could use a player like Raji. Another possibility for San Francisco in the second round is Raji's Boston College teammate, Ron Brace. Kiper said Brace was more of a clogger while Raji was more of a penetrator. Kiper has Brace going to Denver - a team building a 3-4 defense - in the second round.
- Kiper said that offensive tackles are considered the safest pick because there is a built-in safety net with a tackle: If he can't play on the left side, you can move him to the right. If he can't play tackle, you can move him to guard. (Barrows' note: This also could be called Gallery's Law)
- Here's a draft-day scenario. Let's say the top four offensive tackles - Eugene Monroe, Jason Smith, Andre Smith and Michael Oher - are gone by pick no. 10 but Sanchez is still on the board. Perhaps the 49ers trade down in the first round and pick Arizona OT Eben Britton. Kiper said he thought Britton - a 6-6, 310-pound junior - would have been a Top 10-15 pick if he had stayed for his senior season.
-- Matt Barrows