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Mel Kiper’s latest mock draft has 49ers adding pass rusher at No. 31

Feb 28, 2024 at 4:43 PM--


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ESPN analyst Mel Kiper unveiled his latest mock draft, projecting the 32 selections of the first round. For the first time since 2021, the San Francisco 49ers own a first-round selection and could use the pick to bolster the offensive line or the defensive backfield.

However, Kiper has the team going in another direction. He proposes adding a pass rusher to complement defensive end Nick Bosa on the opposite side. Kiper's pick for San Francisco is Chop Robinson of Penn State.

Kiper wrote, "It has to be offensive line or edge rusher for the 49ers, right? They need to find young talent so they can use their cap space on their veteran stars. I went offensive tackle in my debut mock, but let's switch to the defense here."

With several defensive linemen set to become unrestricted free agents next month, including this past season's prized trade acquisition, Chase Young, the 49ers may prioritize adding another edge rusher through either the draft or free agency.

"San Francisco could take the comp pick for defensive end Chase Young and let him walk in free agency, opening up a spot on the other side of Nick Bosa," Kiper continued. "That's where I'd slot in Robinson, whose sack numbers were a little disappointing the past two seasons (9.5 total, four in 2023) but who has the potential to be a star."

Despite Kiper's assessment of Robinson's recent seasons, the defender still boasted Pro Football Focus' 6th-highest overall grade (90.8) and 4th-highest pass-rush grade (92.3) among edge rushers. He has amassed 60 tackles, including 20 for a loss, 11.5 sacks, three passes defensed, and three forced fumbles in three collegiate seasons, per Sports Reference.

Kiper concluded, "At 6-3, 250 pounds, he is extremely explosive. Give him time with 49ers D-line coach Kris Kocurek and he could be a star. The reason Robinson might be a late Round 1 pick is because of that questionable production, but scouts and execs love his tool set."

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