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Road to the Draft: Making the case for, against UCLA QB Josh Rosen

Posted Apr 24, 2018

It's hard to find anyone in the draft with a better throwing motion

In the final buildup to the draft, we’re taking our analysis of the draft’s prospects one step further. We’re making the case for and against 10 of the players and scenarios that are linked to the Browns, who hold the No. 1 and No. 4 picks.

The case for UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen.

1. He’s NFL-ready: Considered one of the top high school recruits in the country, Rosen didn’t flinch on the big stage at UCLA, winning the starting job as a true freshman and throwing for 351 yards and three touchdowns in a rout of Virginia in his college debut. If you’re comparing this year’s quarterbacks based on who has the best mixtape of “NFL throws,” Rosen probably runs away with it, as he showed uncanny poise in the pocket and delivered some of his best passes under the duress of a blitz. Under former NFL coach Jim Mora Jr., Rosen experienced playing under center and operated an offense fairly similar to what he’ll face in the NFL.

2. There’s little to clean up: It’s hard to find a quarterback as mechanically sound as Rosen. According to NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein, Rosen “rarely over-strides and throws with a consistently bent front knee,” allowing him to display a throwing motion and follow-through that appear “effortless.” Zierlein credits some of this to Rosen’s well-documented tennis career, which plays a part in his “impeccable” footwork. NFL quarterbacks spend years working with quarterback gurus trying to get the kind of consistency Rosen shows with his throwing motion.

3. He’s as intelligent as they come: Football is a complex sport, especially for a quarterback, and Rosen has proven to be one of the sharpest members of this year’s deep class of signal-callers. When he met with reporters at the NFL Combine, Rosen was incredibly articulate while shooting down the notion he wasn’t in love with the game of football. “I love football with all of my heart and soul. If I didn’t, I just don’t think I would’ve been able to make it through the grind of college,” he said. “Football is an unbelievable team sport, and that’s what’s so cool about it is that I’m not playing exclusively for my own passions, I’m playing for all of my teammates.”

The case against Rosen

1. Injury concerns: Of the four quarterbacks many believe Cleveland will consider with the No. 1 or No. 4 pick, no one spent more time on the sidelines because of injuries than Rosen. As a sophomore, he missed the final six games of the season with a shoulder injury. This past year, he missed multiple games, including his team’s bowl game, because of two concussions. The old adage in football says a player’s best ability is his availability. While Rosen could very well go on to have a long, injury-free NFL career, he entered this year’s draft with more concerns in that aspect of his evaluation than the rest of his competition.

2. He’s not as mobile as other top QBs: When it comes to throwing from the pocket, Rosen is one of the best, if not the best, in this year’s quarterback class. His success outside of the pocket was a different story, as he completed just 42 percent of his passes when he was forced to move while falling into the trap of extending plays and throwing into trouble rather than throwing it away. The Browns hope to provide their quarterback of the future with a clean pocket as much as possible, but they can’t guarantee it on every snap. They’ll need a quarterback who is capable of making consistent plays and correct decisions while on the run, too.

3. His former coach doesn’t think he should go No. 1: Rosen spent a good chunk of the pre-draft process dismissing questions about a report that indicated he’d prefer to play somewhere other than Cleveland. It wasn’t an ideal first impression, but Browns general manager John Dorsey and coach Hue Jackson said they didn’t hold anything against him and came away impressed with his demeanor after his pre-draft visit. Still, other questions have emerged in the wake of comments from Mora, who said Rosen needs to be “challenged” to prevent him from becoming bored. He also recommended the Browns take Sam Darnold, not Rosen, with the No. 1 pick because of Darnold’s blue-collar mentality.

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