Rosen’s commitment to the game has come into question as of late. Should teams be worried or are his criticisms overblown?
The Sports Quotient’s annual Draft Preview series is back! Over the course of the eight weeks leading up to the 2018 NFL Draft, we will take a look at the top prospects at each position. This week, we dive into the quarterbacks. Today, we’ll take a look at Josh Rosen from UCLA.
Rosen was born and raised in the Los Angeles area, so it wasn’t a huge surprise when he turned down offers from schools like Florida State, Michigan, and Notre Dame to stay local and play for UCLA. The five-star recruit became the school’s first true freshman opening game starter and excelled all year, earning Pac-12 Freshman Offensive Player of the Year honors.
As a sophomore, Rosen started strong but had his season cut short due to a shoulder injury. He successfully bounced back in 2017, posting a career-high in completion percentage, touchdowns, and yards:
Rosen was voted second-team Pac-12 for his efforts, and immediately after the season ended, chose to forego his senior year and enter the NFL Draft.
Rosen is a fundamentally sound passer and has been for some time now. From his throwing motion to his footwork in the pocket, Rosen’s mechanics are top-notch and already better than many current NFL QB’s. He keeps his feet moving as he makes his reads, allowing him to adjust and dodge defenders if need be. In addition, he’s not afraid to step up and deliver throws with pass rushers all over him:
Even though the pocket collapses, Rosen is able to keep his wits and deliver a touchdown throw. Many young quarterbacks are too willing to cover up the ball and take a sack in that situation, but Rosen does well at keeping his head up in search of a big gain. In fact, Rosen completed 63 percent of passes against the blitz over his final season at UCLA.
Another strength of Rosen’s is his touch pass. Whether it be a fade in the end zone or a back-shoulder throw along the sideline, Rosen knows exactly how to take a little heat off of the ball when the situation calls for it:
These two plays show Rosen’s touch but in totally different ways. The first play was a last-minute, game-winning touchdown to cap off a 34-point comeback against Texas A&M. In the game’s biggest moment, Rosen puts the ball on the top shelf where only his guy can get it. The release comes well before the receiver gets to his spot, showing Rosen’s tremendous anticipation.
In the second play, the intended target has the defender draped all over him. Rosen recognizes the tight coverage and effectively throws his man open, delivering a perfect back shoulder ball that the defender has no shot at. If the receiver hadn’t made the catch, the pass would’ve simply bounced off the ground for an incompletion. This is just the type of low-risk/high-reward throw that an NFL QB must have in his arsenal to excel.
Unlike many QBs first entering the NFL, Rosen has plenty of experience under center which should make his transition to the pros much smoother. Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, Rosen has the kind of intelligence and confidence required for success at QB. These traits have been spun into negatives by the media but will work in Rosen’s favor at the next level.
For as clean a prospect as Rosen appears, he does have some concerns. The main one is his durability. He suffered two separate concussions last year, which ultimately caused him to miss UCLA’s bowl game, and those were in addition to the aforementioned shoulder injury from Rosen’s sophomore year. Despite his listed weight of 226 lbs, Rosen could stand to add a little more bulk to his frame to help absorb blows.
One area where Rosen could use work is with the deep ball. His arm strength isn’t elite by any means, and his lack of deep accuracy would often allow defenders to make plays on the ball. He displays excellent accuracy at the short and intermediate levels of the field but needs to improve his deep game to match.
Another weakness is Rosen’s lack of mobility. He struggles to escape the pocket when rushers chase him down, and he wasn’t a very good thrower on the move either. Mobility isn’t a prerequisite to be a great NFL QB (see Tom Brady, Peyton Manning), but it’s an element of Rosen’s game that’s clearly missing.
Rosen is a top-five caliber talent and it’d be surprising to see him fall any further than Denver at pick five. The Giants need to find Eli Manning’s successor, and despite reports that New York isn’t interested in a QB at pick two, the team would be foolish not to give Rosen serious consideration. The Jets are also in play at pick three, although they’ve been linked to Josh Allen and Baker Mayfield over Rosen.
Should Rosen still be available at pick four, don’t be surprised to see the Bills trade up to snag their QB of the future. AJ McCarron certainly isn’t the answer, and Buffalo hasn’t been shy about its interest in this year’s crop of QBs.
Rosen has a legitimate case as the draft’s best QB, and in terms of on-field passing production is only short of Baker Mayfield, who had the advantage of facing Big 12 defenses. “The Chosen Rosen” possesses the mechanics and smarts to be one of the NFL’s top QBs down the line, but his main obstacle will be winning over coaches and teammates. If he can do so, Rosen could easily be among the NFL’s elite in a few years’ time.
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