The evaluations for the 2018 NFL draft have been particularly tough this year. When Todd McShay and I took an early look at the class, we focused on the quarterbacks, and bowl season didn't bring much clarity to the order of those prospects. It's also different from 2017, when Myles Garrett was the surefire No. 1 prospect.
Now that the deadline for underclassmen to put their name in for the draft has passed, though, it's time for my first projection of all 32 first-round picks. The order for the first 28 picks is set -- with two teams having two first-round picks because of trades last year -- and we've projected picks 29-32 based on who Vegas has picked as the favorites.
A few reminders before I get started:
Teams are still early in their evaluations. No team has a draft board yet, and we still have to get through postseason all-star games, combine testing, medicals, pro days and individual workouts.
There's a long time until the draft, and we have to get through free agency before we truly know each team's needs. That's why several of these picks are based on who I think is the best player available. In some cases, I have identified a few needs that could be targeted.
An asterisk denotes a prospect who is an underclassmen, and I have 24 of them here, which means there are only eight seniors. The position split for the first round here is 15 on offense and 17 on defense.
The 49ers and Raiders are tied at Nos. 9 and 10, and the picks will be decided by a coinflip at the combine. For the purposes of this projection, I did my own coinflip -- and San Francisco won.
My new Big Board and position rankings are here. Here we go:
*Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
Cleveland has to take a quarterback. Has to. And a winless season means the Browns can pick whichever one they want. My evaluations on this quarterback class are really close. I've gone back and forth a few times on Josh Rosen, Sam Darnold and Allen, but I just moved Allen up to my No. 1 quarterback. His numbers aren't impressive, I know. But the NFL is all about projection, and he has a high ceiling. Coaches want to work with the 6-foot-5 Allen because he has all of the tools. I said last month that he is one of my favorite prospects in this class. The other top quarterbacks have warts, and there is no slam-dunk No. 1 prospect, which makes it a fun class. Scouts are looking forward to seeing Allen at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama, next week, where he will work out with much better talent.
*Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
Rosen is the top pure passer in this class. He looked better than Darnold when UCLA and USC played late in the season. Rosen, however, has dealt with injuries the past two seasons, and there already have been rumblings that he doesn't want to end up in Cleveland. There are some red flags. But some team is going to draft him high -- he has rare arm talent and has been much more secure with the ball than Darnold and Allen. The Giants could move into life after Eli Manning with a new franchise quarterback.