The calendar has turned to April and we are now just 17 days away from the 2018 NFL Draft. Pro days have concluded but teams will continue to utilize their 30 in-person visits over the final two weeks leading up to April 26. As you continue to wait patiently for the draft to finally arrive, here's a fresh crop of expert predictions for the San Francisco 49ers and the ninth-overall pick.
Luke Easterling, USA Today: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
"There are plenty of attractive options for the 49ers here, but Smith represents the best balance of need and value. A top-five talent in this year's class, Smith would be a fantastic insurance policy for Reuben Foster."
Tom Fornelli, CBS Sports: Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama
"The Niners need a corner in this draft, and you have to imagine John Lynch would be thrilled to see Fitzpatrick on the board here."
Mel Kiper, ESPN: Fitzpatrick
"Fitzpatrick could start at corner -- opposite Richard Sherman -- or safety for the 49ers, who have a young, talented front seven but need to fill out the secondary."
Todd McShay, ESPN: Fitzpatrick
"GM John Lynch will go for the best player available, and Fitzpatrick is the best player on the board."
Pete Prisco, CBS Sports: Marcus Davenport, EDGE, UTSA
"They need to get edge-rush help. Davenport is the next highest-rated edge rusher behind Chubb."
Chris Trapasso, CBS Sports: Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU
"This may be higher than most have Sutton going, but I can't see the 49ers going defense in Round 1 for the sixth consecutive year with Kyle Shanahan and Jimmy Garoppolo as the current organizational cornerstones."
Will Brinson, CBS Sports: Derwin James, S, Florida State
"An excellent situation for the 49ers, who can kind of hang back at No. 9, hope that a bunch of quarterbacks get taken, and scoop up one of the five best prospects in this draft class."
Chad Reuter, NFL.com: Fitzpatrick (projected trade down to No. 12 with the Buffalo Bills)
"The Niners trade down three spots, pick up an extra selection and still get the guy they wanted in Fitzpatrick."
Charley Casserly, NFL.com: Davenport
"The Niners are in desperate need of a pass rusher and Davenport helps them get after the quarterback."
Dan Kadar, SB Nation: Fitzpatrick
"This is a coin flip situation between Fitzpatrick and Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward. Both can work the slot, but Fitzpatrick has a little more range and versatility. After being a weakness last season, the 49ers would now have Fitzpatrick and Richard Sherman in the defensive backfield.
Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News: James
"James would allow Sherman to shepherd a sequel to the Legion of Boom for the Seahawks' biggest rivals."
Dane Brugler, NFL Draft Scout: Denzel Ward, Ohio State
"A twitchy cover man, Ward would be an ideal fit in the nickel for the 49ers, giving him an opportunity to learn behind Richard Sherman. Ward isn't the biggest, but it is tough to find flaws in his game.
Rob Rang, NFL Draft Scout: Fitzpatrick
"Fitzpatrick possesses an ideal blend of instincts, athleticism and size, which helped him line up wherever Nick Saban most needed him on a game-by-game basis at Alabama. Few will appreciate that versatility more than former Tampa Bay Pro Bowl safety (and current 49ers GM) John Lynch. Pairing Fitzpatrick with Richard Sherman … suddenly, San Francisco might boast the most formidable secondary in the NFC West."
Jonah Tuls, NDT Scouting: Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech
"Edmunds physical traits may be too much to pass up here for Lynch, giving them a player with one of the highest ceilings in the draft at just 19 years old."
Walter Cherepinsky, walterfootball.com: Ward
"The 49ers had a big need for a cornerback entering the offseason. They signed Richard Sherman, but he's a player in his 30s coming off a November Achilles tear. Even if he plays well this year, he's not a long-term option. San Francisco has little else at the position (Ahkello Witherspoon Ahkello Witherspoon) so I could see them using this selection on the 2018 NFL Draft's top cornerback."
Charlie Campbell, walterfootball.com: Fitzpatrick
"Fitzpatrick would be a great scheme fit and could help form a talented secondary with Richard Sherman and Akhello Witherspoon."
Final Tally (16 total)
Fitzpatrick - 7
Ward - 2
Davenport - 2
James - 2
Smith - 1
Edmunds - 1
Sutton - 1