Most of the top senior NFL Draft prospects are arriving in Mobile, Ala. in preparation for the 2018 Senior Bowl on Sat. Jan. 27. As these young NFL hopefuls prepare for the final game of their collegiate careers, take a look at who the top draft experts project the San Francisco 49ers will select with the ninth- or 10th-overall selection in the 2018 NFL Draft.
Mel Kiper Jr., ESPN: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State:
"The 49ers have a really solid young core on defense, but most of their top picks were spent on the front seven. They really need a top-tier cornerback. Ward is the top corner in this class -- if you consider Fitzpatrick to be a safety -- though I don't have as high a grade on him as I did for his former teammate Marshon Lattimore, who went No. 11 last year and had a great rookie season in New Orleans. Ward flashed in 2016 and had a tremendous junior season."
Daniel Jeremiah, NFL.com: Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech:
"Edmunds is one of my favorite players in the draft. He has a rare blend of size, speed and athleticism. He would be a perfect complement to Reuben Foster at the second level of the 49ers' defense."
Matt Miller, Bleacher Report: Ward:
"The 49ers have the quarterback position locked up now and can use this pick to find a star defender to continue rounding out Robert Saleh's defense. Ward is a touch undersized at 5'11", 190 pounds, but he's insanely quick, aggressive and athletic. Playing at the line of scrimmage, he's able to use his length and toughness well in press coverage. You can't watch Ohio State film without marveling at his recovery speed and instincts."
Jonah Tuls, NDT Scouting: Orlando Brown, OL, Oklahoma:
"It looks like John Lynch hit the jackpot by acquiring Jimmy Garoppolo, and I can see him looking to pick somebody here who can help protect his investment. Joe Staley is nearing the end of his career, but until he calls it quits, Brown can play on the right side. This would be an ideal landing spot for 'Zeus Jr.'"
Walter Cherepinsky, Walterfootball.com: Quenton Nelson, OL, Notre Dame:
"Jimmy Garoppolo looks like he's going to be one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL in the near future, but the 49ers will need to add talent around him. NFL teams and scouts absolutely love Quenton Nelson. He's viewed as an elite prospect."
Luke Easterling, USA Today: Nelson:
"They have their new franchise quarterback, and now it's time to make sure he's protected. Nelson may be the most complete play in this entire class, with the athleticism, physicality and attitude any team would love up front. He's an absolute steal here."
Eric Galko, Sporting News: Nelson:
"Guards generally don't go in the top 10, but Nelson is good enough. He's not all that different talent-wise from David DeCastro, who was drafted later in his class, but the 49ers are looking for a safe pick who can function in Kyle Shanahan's offense and aid in keeping Jimmy Garoppolo upright."
Chris Trapasso,CBS Sports:Nelson:
"The 49ers could go in many directions but after three straight years grabbing defensive linemen in the first round, San Francisco, under new leadership, picks, arguably, the best available player here in Nelson, a road-grading interior lineman."
Dan Kadar, SB Nation: Ward:
"San Francisco could go several directions here, but Ward is the type of instant starter needed on an otherwise average defensive backfield."
Eddie Brown, San Diego Union-Tribune: Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M:
"The 49ers can address other needs with their quarterback questions answered. The comparisons to Odell Beckham Jr. are apt. Kirk is an all-around pass-catcher known for his route-running and punt-return ability. He's equally dangerous lined up outside or in the slot."
Bryan Fischer, Athlon Sports: Joshua Jackson, CB, Iowa:
"Just about any position could be targeting at this spot by the 49ers given how many needs they could address with all that cap room they have. Finding Jimmy Garoppolo some weapons will be big need but Jackson is a super talented corner who could play a huge role in shoring up the back end of the defense against the pass."
Brett Clancy, Drafttek.com: Minkah Fitzpatrick, CB/S, Alabama:
"Fresh off the second national championship victory of his three-year career at Alabama, Minkah Fitzpatrick once again falls to the 49ers with the 10th pick. While I maintain that Fitzpatrick's best and ultimate position in the NFL will be CB due to his elite size and speed for the position, part of what makes him unique is his versatility."
Steve Palazzolo, Pro Football Focus: Bradley Chubb, DL, N.C. State:
"The defensive line has been a consistent theme to recent 49ers' first rounds, but Chubb brings a different dynamic to the table. He finished No. 6 overall among edge defenders at 89.4, including the No. 3 mark against the run and the No. 11 grade as a pass-rusher."
Charlie Campbell, Walterfootball.com: Derwin James, S, Florida State:
"James is a special talent at safety, who I think will appeal to John Lynch, Kyle Shanahan and Robert Saleh.
"James totaled 72 tackles with 11 passes batted and two interceptions in 2017. While he didn't put together flawless performances against Alabama and N.C. State during the season, they were impressive overall. James was healthy and able to display his great instincts and rare combination of great size, speed, physicality and versatility. He played dime linebacker, nickel corner, free safety and strong safety, basically doing everything a coach could ask of him. The one steady problem James displayed in 2017 was some painful missed tackles, and he could have some limitations deep downfield, but he still is a tremendous strong safety with versatility."
Final Tally (14 total)
Nelson – 4
Ward – 3
Edmunds – 1
Brown – 1
Kirk – 1
Jackson – 1
Fitzpatrick – 1
Chubb – 1
James – 1
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