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Mel Kiper has 49ers considering their secondary

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The 49ers do need a cornerback, that’s for sure.

College football players had until Tuesday to put their name in for the 2018 NFL Draft, finalizing the pool of talent that will be available in late April. With that complete, ESPN’s Mel Kiper decided it was time to drop his first mock draft of the pre-draft process.

Kiper goes with a surprising but not surprising No. 1 overall pick, sending Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen to the Cleveland Browns. I say surprising but not surprising because Allen is going to be mentioned as a potential top pick, but it also seems like opinion vary on him more than most of the other options. Lamar Jackson is the other quarterback generating all sorts of different opinions.

The San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Raiders still have to conduct their coin toss for the No. 9 and No. 10 picks, but for now, Kiper has the 49ers at No. 9. With that pick, Kiper has the 49ers selecting Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward. Here’s what Kiper had to say about the pick:

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.

Earlier this week, Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller mocked Ward to the 49ers in his own mock draft. He said that while Ward is a little bit under-sized, “he’s insanely quick, aggressive and athletic” and can, “use his length and toughness well in press coverage.”

Cornerback is an absolute need this year, whether it be a high profile free agent or a high pick in the draft. Pass rush help is necessary too, but if the draft goes as we see in Kiper’s first mock draft (probably unlikely), Ward could make sense. Here are the first eight picks before the 49ers:

1. Cleveland Browns - Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
2. New York Giants - Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
3. Indianapolis Colts - Bradley Chubb, Edge, NC State
4. Cleveland Browns - Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
5. Denver Broncos - Sam Darnold, QB, USC
6. New York Jets - Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame
8. Chicago Bears - Calvin Ridley, WR Alabama