Folks, draft szn is upon us. This year, I’m going to be covering the draft in a way different than we’ve seen it typically be covered in previous years. The draft, in my opinion, should be the starting point for our evaluations of these prospects. Placement and fit matters so much for prospects, yet we grade them as if they’re finished products before we even know where they’re going. Why do we do this? The easy answer is, for clicks. People don’t care about the rookies once the draft is over until they start playing in real games. It makes no sense to do the bulk of the coverage after the draft, because the traffic it would generate for the sites and media outlets will be severely diminished.
I’ve found a way to marry the ideal process with the practical one, and that’s how I’ll be covering the draft this year. I’m going to be bringing you weekly-ish reports on prospects that will provide them with a grade and full coverage of the type of player the prospect is, but I won’t be releasing any rankings before the draft happens. Instead, I’ve added a variable to my grading process that factors in the landing spot of each prospect, and when that fit is added to the pre-draft grade the prospect receives, it will give me the final grade for the prospect. Teams will be sorted into 5 categories of fits; Great, Good, Neutral, Bad, Disaster. These fits are determined with a variety of factors involved, including but not limited to scheme fit, organizational stability, and current players at the position on the team. Once I have the prospects’ final grades, I will release a post-draft big board of the prospects I covered. This way, their landing spots can impact how I feel about them, but the content is still primarily coming before the draft, when most of you will care much more about it. This intro is going to stay in every prospect article I write as a refresher/introduction to those who are reading for the first time. Now, let’s get to it: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA **All clips taken from YouTube.com. RIP DraftBreakdown.**
Unlike his fellow good QB’s Baker Mayfield and Lamar Jackson, Josh Rosen has the prototypical look and playstyle of a top-tier QB prospect. Listed at 6’3″, 210 pounds, Rosen has been on the NFL radar since he stepped on UCLA’s campus. His personality has been questioned, and his on-field play has been picked apart, but make no mistake. Josh Rosen (pending a Sam Darnold review) deserves to be the first overall pick in the 2018 draft.
The first thing that stands out about Rosen is that when watching him, he just feels like a QB. For as complicated a position QB is, for as hard as it is to scout and analyze, I think that’s an extremely overlooked factor that deserves more weight. Josh Rosen feels like an NFL QB. Deshaun Watson felt like an NFL QB. Certain players were just born to play the position, and you can get a sense of it watching them. If you get that feeling, don’t overthink it. You can question a ceiling, or a career path, but if someone feels like a QB, trust it.
Here is an example of what I mean. Faced with quick pressure, in a 2 minute drill, Rosen tries to escape up the middle. When it’s taken away, he knows where his secondary release from the pocket is, gets himself back into a position to throw, and knows exactly where he wants to go with it despite the constant pressure he faced on the play.
Not only same drive, but very next play provides another example. While the end result was a pretty standard play, Rosen’s mental processing here shows everything you want from a QB. He knew he wanted to come to his tight end the whole way, but he wanted to make it as easy as possible for his target. He looks to the curl to the backside of his tight end, getting the middle zone to break over and the tight ends man to be caught looking. His tight end makes the cut, and by his second step out of the break Rosen is moving his feet and ready to throw before the defender can recover. He gave his receiver just enough time to separate, and got it there before the defender had any chance to get back into the play.
First, check the score and the time remaining. Every second matters. Facing a 2nd and 6, it wasn’t quite “gotta have it” mode yet, but keeping out of late-down situations and getting the first down clock stoppage would be key. TA&M brings a blitz, and the corner comes untouched. Not panicking in what would’ve been a brutal sack to take, Rosen looks to where the blitz came from and finds his read wide open. He puts it down low where only his guy can make a play, and UCLA has a first down in the red zone.
Game on the line. 48 seconds left. Man on man fade. Dime. Ballgame. UCLA pulls off an insane comeback. Josh Rosen feels like a QB.
Don’t be mistaken, however, Rosen has many of the traits that are required in the quest to find a franchise QB. As we saw in a couple of the clips above, he’s comfortable moving around in traffic, standing tall in pressure and/or extending plays and still actively looking to make them instead of getting away from pressure and having no plan afterwards.
3rd and 10. Half winding down. Initial looks are taken away, and the frontside DE initiates pressure. Rosen attempts to step up and away, but the DE gets around the corner nicely to get a free shot at Rosen. Rosen manages to spin away and continues away from the increasing pressure, finding his checkdown before the defense can close and making a clean throw, letting his receiver run for the first down.
Rosen has clean mechanics and footwork. It’s not perfect, his motion could be a bit tighter and he occasionally lets his base get too wide when he resets, but the motion doesn’t impact his ability to get the ball out and the base issues are rare enough that they aren’t true concerns in the NFL. He has more than enough arm strength to make any throw at the next level.
~15 yard comeback from the far hash, with a defender closing in quickly and a defender who finishes the play wrapped around him, Rosen has no problem stepping up and hitting his receivers outside shoulder with plenty of time to spare.
Finally, Rosen can just drop dimes. He has accuracy to all levels, and the ability to make wildly impressive throws look common.
His receiver drops it, but Rosen throws a 20 yard sideline go route in rhythm like it was a 5 yard slant.
Speaking of 5 yard rhythm throws, Rosen puts this in the perfect spot, the linebacker has no play on the ball and 2nd down comes ahead of the chains.
Third down, 25 yard back shoulder throw from the far hash. Touchdown.
And finally, from halfway into his own end zone, to the opposite hash 20 directly over the CB’s head. I say one more time. Josh Rosen feels like a QB.
Rosen’s weaknesses really show out when he’s trying to press the issue. He has a tendency to drift backwards in the pocket the longer a play goes from the pocket, whether he needs to or not, and he has a brutal habit of forcing passes into places with no business being thrown at.
Here we see a little bit of both, Rosen has a clean pocket initially, but as the play extends and pressure starts to come he steps back and away from the EDGE rusher and DT to gain space, instead of into the still open (but quickly closing) pocket. This one is a bit of a nitpicky example since the pocket collapses so quickly afterwards, but where he was throwing after the step, stepping into the throw instead of backwards would’ve made a big difference. Instead, the ball is underthrown but somehow goes right through the defenders hands for a UCLA TD.
In a rare instance of Rosen panicking under pressure, we see a backfoot throw to a covered receiver instead of getting to his RB on the swing. It doesn’t hurt him, but it’s indicative of his issues with occasional decision making in situations he needs to press the issue.
The shot play was never there in this instance. The corner had great coverage and the safety was hanging over the top the whole time. Rosen tries to force it anyway, and the safety makes a clean interception.
Backfoot, off balance throw 40 yards downfield into double coverage, leaving his WR to play DB.
This play starts off well. Rosen is patient in the pocket, steps up instead of back, and finds the open lane to extend the play. He completely misses/ignores the closing defender, however, and tries to throw behind him for what wouldn’t have even been close to a first down. Instead, the pass is intercepted. This play should’ve ended in a throwaway or a downfield shot where an interception hurts less. Instead, Memphis got the ball and ended up winning the game.
I dunno man. Give him the benefit of the doubt on a miscommunication if you want, but third and 10 short of the sticks right where a defender was sitting is a bad move no matter what.
Cleveland. Rosen, at this point, should be the first overall pick. Cleveland (obviously) needs a QB, and has the first overall pick. Natural fit. Sorry Rosen, but if you can get Hue up outta there, Rosen has a chance to be the most famous athlete in Cleveland history save for LeBron James.
New York Giants. Unless the Giants are ready to move on from Eli (they seemingly aren’t), this is a waste of time for Rosen. His issues aren’t going to improve on the bench, whoever is drafting him should be throwing him to the fire week one and let him grow through his issues on the field. New York would be getting their heir apparent, but Rosen could do much better.
Josh Rosen is extremely good. He feels like a QB. Don’t let the occasional lapses in judgement trying to make a play deter you. He has it all, and he deserves to be the first overall pick. If I was hitching my wagon to one quarterback in the class, as much as I love Baker Mayfield and Lamar Jackson, I’d pick Rosen with little-to-no hesitation. You may have to deal with 10+ interceptions in any given year, but Rosen is a QB who can be the reason a team wins a Super Bowl, not just a facilitator on the way to one.