The San Francisco 49ers sit at the No. 9 spot in the 2018 NFL Draft, and without a quarterback need but quite a few other needs, they have their choice of non-QBs that slide to them. The question is who, if anybody will shake things up ahead of them. At least three quarterbacks are expected to go in the first round, but will we see a fourth?
The Cleveland Browns hold two of the first four picks, but their plans seem pretty clear. The team is expected to select a quarterback No. 1, and then use the No. 4 pick on running back Saquon Barkley or defensive end Bradley Chubb. They could go with defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick or cornerback Denzel Ward, among others, but it’s unlikely they surprise us outside of a trade down.
The first real question of the draft is what the New York Giants plan on doing at No. 2. Eli Manning is their quarterback for 2018, but his future is uncertain beyond that. The Giants could select a quarterback of the future at No. 2, or they could go with a day one starter to maximize Manning’s remaining time with the team. The third option would be a trade with someone like the Buffalo Bills or Arizona Cardinals who both need quarterbacks of the future.
Danny Kelly put together his latest 2018 NFL mock draft at The Ringer, and he decided to go with option No. 2. He has the Giants selecting Bradley Chubb. In doing so, only three quarterbacks go in the top eight picks, albeit with a trade mixed in. The Browns select USC’s Sam Darnold, the New York Jets select UCLA’s Josh Rosen, and then Buffalo Bills trade up to the Indianapolis Colts’ pick and select Wyoming’s Josh Allen.
The Browns go with Saquon Barkley at No. 4, while the Denver Broncos, a candidate for a QB in this draft, select Notre Dame OG Quenton Nelson at No. 5. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Chicago Bears are not candidates to select a QB, and Kelly has them selecting Alabama defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick and Washington defensive tackle Vita Vea, respectively.
That leaves the 49ers with some choices. He has them passing on CB Denzel Ward, S Derwin James, and LBs Roquan Smith and Tremaine Edmunds, instead selecting Boston College defensive end Harold Landry.
Landry’s seen his stock rise over the past few weeks after posting outstanding numbers at the combine, most notably a blistering 6.88-second three-cone time that illustrates his explosiveness in the short area. Landry’s production wasn’t great in 2017 (5.0 sacks, 8.5 tackles-for-loss) as he fought through an ankle injury, but the 49ers are banking on the Boston College star returning to his 2016 form. A healthy Landry posted elite numbers that season (16.5 sacks, 22 tackles-for-loss, and seven forced fumbles) and could be a day-one contributor at the team’s LEO pass-rusher position.
If the Giants go quarterback at No. 2, I would be surprised if we don’t see four quarterbacks go before the 49ers pick. The Bills or Cardinals seem strong bets to move ahead of the 49ers and select a quarterback. The Broncos could still pick a quarterback as well. I don’t think we’ll see a fifth QB go in the top eight, but four is a very real possibility. If that happens, it opens the door for the 49ers to pick a day one starter at No. 9, or potentially move down if they think their guy could be their a little later.