By Charlie Campbell
Summary: Rosen entered UCLA as a top recruit and quickly validated the hype, becoming an instant starter. He put together an impressive debut as a freshman, completing 60 percent of his passes for 3,670 yards with 23 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He only played in six games in 2016 before a shoulder injury ended his season. The sophomore completed 59 percent of his passes for 1,915 yards with 10 touchdowns and five interceptions that season.
To open his junior year, Rosen had a legendary Week 1 performance leading one of the greatest comeback wins in college football history. UCLA was down 44-10 in the third quarter before Rosen led the Bruins back to a 45-44 victory over Texas A&M. On the evening, he completed 35-of-58 passes for 491 yards with four touchdowns.
Rosen left UCLA’s game against Washington with an undisclosed injury and missed the contest against Utah with a concussion. After returning to the field, Rosen played well, including throwing for over 400 yards against USC. He was pulled early in the regular-season finale against California and missed UCLA’s bowl game. In 2017, Rosen completed 63 percent of his passes for 3,717 yards with 26 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
Of the top quarterback prospects for the 2018 NFL Draft, Rosen has the best mechanics and is the most natural pocket passer. He throws a tremendous ball and can really spin it. Rosen’s tight spiral helps him to get his passes through tight windows and beat good coverage. There is no throw that Rosen can’t make for the NFL, and instantly next fall, he will be among the stronger arms of the starting quarterbacks in the league. The ball just explodes out of his hand, and you never saw his passes wobble when he went downfield.
For a college quarterback going to the NFL, Rosen has impressive footwork, and that leads to him throwing the ball accurately with good placement. Rosen’s accuracy, timing, precision and arm strength make him deadly to move the ball down the field in a blur. He is good at running the 2-minute drill and is fully capable of carving up prevent zone defenses.
Rosen has good vision to work off his first read and find open targets, plus possesses the pocket presence to throw in the face of the rush. With his arm, feet, vision and stature, Rosen is prototypical pocket-passing quarterback prospect for the NFL.
UCLA gave Rosen better preparation for the NFL due to playing more of a pro-style system than you typically see in college football. Rosen worked under center, which has been rare to see with college quarterbacks in recent years. Rosen is not a dual-threat quarterback, but he possesses enough athleticism to do bootlegs and move within in the pocket. He won’t be a running threat in the NFL.
A well-known negative factor about Rosen is the concern over his intangibles. For years, there has been talk in the scouting community about Rosen having bad intangibles and being disliked by his teammates at UCLA, especially during his early time with the Bruins. Sources say that Rosen worked at improving his relationships with his teammates over the last year and half, with progress being made on that issue. He also interviewed well with teams at the combine, showing good recall and football IQ.
There also are durability concerns. The shoulder injury cost Rosen a lot of time in 2016, and as a junior, Rosen dealt with at least one concussion as well as other injuries, which cost him starts and playing time. Rosen could stand to get stronger and fill out his frame with more thickness to help him hold up against the punishment dealt out by NFL defenders.
In the 2018 NFL Draft, Rosen is a sure-fire top-five pick. Some league sources have told me that they would put Rosen among the few truly elite prospects in this draft class. If Rosen stays healthy and lands in a quality situation with talent around him on the field and the sideline, he should become a franchise quarterback in the NFL.
Player Comparison: Jay Cutler. There are a lot of similarities between Rosen and Cutler. Both of them possess powerful arms that let the ball explode out of their hands. They also are unique personalities with mixed intangibles. Some teammates will love them, while others may not. Cutler has suffered durability issues during his career, and Rosen could have a similar problem in the NFL. Cutler was a first-round pick in the 2006 NFL Draft, and Rosen is a lock to be a first-rounder in the 2018 NFL Draft.
NFL Matches: Cleveland, New York Giants, Denver, New York Jets, Washington, Arizona, Buffalo, Los Angeles Chargers, New Orleans and Pittsburgh
There are a lot of quarterback-needy teams in the NFL, and Rosen should be gone quickly in the top five. The Browns need a franchise quarterback and could target a signal-caller at pick No. 1 or pick No. 4.
The Giants could be a fit for Rosen with the No. 2-overall pick. They could use a young franchise quarterback with Eli Manning aging. New York looks like a likely landing spot for Rosen.
The Broncos at No. 5 and Jets at No. 6 seem to be the lowest that Rosen could possibly go. Both Denver and New York need a young franchise quarterback. Having both teams pass on Rosen seems extremely unlikely. At least one of these teams will miss out on Kirk Cousins, and both also could miss out on Case Keenum. Hence, at least one of these two teams should be in the market for a quarterback come draft day.
The Redskins, Cardinals, Chargers, Saints, Bills, Jaguars and Steelers all could have a need for a young franchise quarterback. Rosen won’t get to the first-round picks of any of these teams, however. In order for Rosen to land with one of these teams, it will require a massive trade up to get him. After the trades last year by the Chiefs and Texans for young franchise quarterbacks, one can’t rule out the possibility that a team will move up for Rosen.
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