ARLINGTON, Texas -- We're now just hours away from the start of the 2018 NFL Draft. In the final moments before Roger Goodell announces the newest member of the San Francisco 49ers, let's take a look at some of the most likely outcomes for the ninth-overall pick.
In no particular order, here are my top five scenarios.
1. The 49ers Trade Back
The odds of this happening are obviously contingent on which quarterbacks are still on the board when the 49ers go on the clock. If Baker Mayfield (very doubtful as he's expected to go No. 1 overall), Sam Darnold (also super unlikely), Josh Rosen (potentially) or Josh Allen (the most likely) are still available at pick No 9, teams could come calling. There's also an outside shot that a club falls in love with Lamar Jackson and looks to move up.
Here are the teams who could potentially come calling: Miami Dolphins (pick 11), Buffalo Bills (pick 12), Arizona Cardinals (pick 15) and New England Patriots (picks 23 and 31).
John Lynch said on Monday that the 49ers have 30 prospects with a first-round grade and 12 with a Pro Bowl grade. My guess is that San Francisco is set on grabbing one of those 12, which would mean Lynch may be hesitant to go below pick 12.
2. The 49ers Draft Alabama S Minkah Fitzpatrick
The NFL has become a matchup based league. There's a reason why the New York Giants line up tight end Evan Engram at wide receiver. There's a reason why the 49ers gave versatile back Jerick McKinnon a lucrative deal in free agency. Both players have the ability to be matchup nightmares. That makes it incumbent of a defense to have chess pieces of its own.
Fitzpatrick is a do-it-all defensive back with the capability of creating advantageous matchups for a defense. If San Francisco goes this route, it will require the defensive coaching staff to get creative in their use of Fitzpatrick. The safety has all of the tools. It's up to the coaches to get the most out of him. I'd be just fine putting that responsibility on Robert Saleh and Co. I'd doubt he'd argue, either.
3. The 49ers Draft Georgia LB Roquan Smith
Bleacher Report's Matt Miller called Smith "the best defender in college football in 2017." This may be one of the safest picks in the draft, and he'd project to be a plug-and-play starter. Smith is seen as a touch undersized (6-foot-1, 236 pounds), but there's no questioning his sideline-to-sideline ability as a prototype inside linebacker.
4. The 49ers Draft Virginia Tech LB Tremaine Edmunds
If Smith is the safe bet, Edmunds is the high risk/high reward option. The 19-year-old is a physical freak at 6-foot-5, 253 pounds and has drawn comparisons to Hall of Famer Brian Urlacher. He's much more of a projection, which means that there's a lower floor than a player like Smith. Even so, plenty of draft experts have the 49ers going with Edmunds in their final mock drafts.
5. The 49ers Draft Notre Dame T Mike McGlinchey
While Quinten Nelson isn't likely to be on the board at pick No. 9, his Notre Dame teammate should be. Over the last 48 hours, McGlinchey has emerged as the top tackle in this year's draft and some think he could find his way into the top 10. Joe Staley is in Year 12, and it couldn't hurt to start looking for his heir apparent. In addition, Trent Brown is entering the final year of his rookie deal, and Lynch said this week that there's no hurry to get Brown a new contract. I'd still be plenty surprised if this happened given the defensive talent that will be available, but it's my dark horse scenario.
Other players the 49ers could target at pick No. 9: Ohio State CB Denzel Ward and Florida State S Derwin James.
Players I don't expect the 49ers to target at pick No. 9: Boston College DE Harold Landry, UTSA DE Marcus Davenport, Iowa CB Josh Jackson and SMU WR Courtland Sutton.
One final potential outcome: I look like a total idiot and the 49ers will draft one of the players I just listed above. Only time will tell. ¯\(ツ)/¯