Rutgers v Penn State
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You can’t go wrong betting on an athlete from Penn State

As the NFL scouting combine is underway, mock drafts are flooding in with the news of teams meeting with players in Indianapolis. Tuesday’s press sessions were for coaches and GMs only, while Wednesday’s sessions were the first for draft prospects. Defensive linemen were the first up for the week. While the 49ers need offensive line help, two recent mock drafts have the 49ers addressing the defensive line again.

Randy Gregory, Chase Young, Javon Kinlaw, Sebastion Joseph-Day, Clelin Ferrell, and Kevin Givens are all set to be free agents, so the 49ers will have to address the position in free agency and the draft.

Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz of USA Today released his most recent mock draft and has tabbed Chop Robinson from Penn State to the 49ers at pick 31. Many mock drafts have the 49ers selecting an offensive lineman, including Daniel Jeremiah’s last mock before the combine.

Middlehurst-Schwartz’s reasoning for selecting Robinson is partly due to the belief the Baltimore Ravens will select Graham Barton from Duke to slide into the guard position.

Here’s Middlehurst-Schwartz’s thoughts on Robinson:

Offensive line could be a consideration here, but even in a deep class, the value doesn’t measure up after an earlier run on blockers. If San Francisco doesn’t hold onto Chase Young, Robinson offers them a high-upside alternative who might flourish under renowned defensive line coach Kris Kocurek.

Robinson stands at 6’3”, 255 lbs, and profiles as an explosive EDGE with elite traits, but some work to do with technique. One scouting report compares Robinson to Micah Parsons, with less speed and polish as a football player. The junior pass rusher could flourish under Kocurek.

Mel Kiper, Jr agrees with Middlehurst-Schwartz as Kiper selected Robinson at 31.

Kiper said this about his selection:

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.

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. 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. 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.

There’s no doubt the 49ers will address the offensive line in this draft, but fans should remember the team has to address the defensive line as well. The question becomes where each need will be addressed.

Robinson also is a premier athlete, according to The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman:

So the Nittany Lions have an incredibly explosive 250-pound guy with blazing speed, great strength and Freakish agility. Yeah, we remember a guy like that who came out of Happy Valley.

We’re not saying Chop can be another Micah Parsons, but he is still very special. He had 10 TFLs and 5.5 sacks last season, and will be even better this year. The 6-3, 254-pound junior is a little bigger than Parsons, and almost as fast. He clocked a 4.47 40 this offseason and ran a quicker shuttle, 4.22. He also broad-jumped 10-7 and bench-pressed 400 pounds.

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