In the days leading up to the 2018 NFL Draft, *our editorial staff will profile some of the top prospects in the Class including quarterbacks Josh Allen (Wyoming), Sam Darnold (USC), Lamar Jackson (Louisville), Baker Mayfield (Oklahoma) and Josh Rosen (UCLA). We will also take a look at Saquon Barkley (Penn State), Bradley Chubb (NC State) and Quenton Nelson (Notre Dame). Our series begins with Rosen, a 21-year-old signal caller from Manhattan Beach, CA.
Less than two weeks before the 2018 NFL Draft, pretty much everything knowable is known about all the top prospects, especially this year when four quarterbacks are crowding the top rungs of everyone's mock draft.
So regarding Josh Rosen, the UCLA QB who lit it up personally but not so much teamwise the past three seasons, we know his pluses include good accuracy and touch (60.9% career, 62.6% last year as a junior), big-play potential (59 career touchdown passes), textbook mechanics, including his tennis-pro footwork, and superior confidence.
As NFL.com's Mike Mayock said before the Combine, Rosen "is the best pure thrower, best pure passer I've seen in several years. He's on balance on every throw. He's accurate, short, intermediate and deep."
As for the negatives, scouts want to see improved mobility, anticipation and zip on his deeper throws. And there is the durability issue that derives from his 2016 shoulder injury and two concussions last season.
But what happens now is the paralysis by overanalysis that happens to all top picks every year, about things that won't be known for months and years. For Rosen, the critics seem to focus on things like his motivation, passion for football and focus. And all of those seem to have one common denominator: What's in Josh's head?
Jim Mora, the Bruins coach for most of the last three seasons, provided fodder for the flaw finders with some initial comments about Rosen not being a great fit for Cleveland and needing "to be challenged intellectually so he doesn't get bored. He's a millennial. He wants to know why. Once they know why, they're good."
Mora has since expanded on his comments, suggesting it's "always fun, the speculation, how words are switched around, how comments are lopped off." His original point was that Rosen might not be every team's cup of tea but his intelligence and engagement are top-notch. "Do I think he's the best quarterback in the draft?" Mora said. "No, I think he's the best player in the draft."
Nevertheless, scouts and fans have been turned loose to opine if Rosen grew up in too much money and comfort, if he has NFL leadership qualities, if he really loves the game.
Several NFL observers we've heard recently think these questions are overblown.
Sam Farmer, the longtime NFL writer for the Los Angeles Times who saw Rosen and USC's Sam Darnold a lot, told Eric Allen and Ethan Greenberg on newyorkjets.com that he admires Rosen's physical skills — "He's a guy who consistently, when healthy, made Sunday throws on Saturday" — and also his intangibles.
Scouts he talked with before the annual UCLA-USC game said they would be watching Rosen intently not just on the field but on the sidelines.
"That points to the big question of attitude and if he's entirely all in on this or if he's got 100 different interests and this is one of them," Farmer said. "I feel like he's made a concerted effort this year to show that he is all in, and people around him agree that he is."
And Dan Orlovsky, former NFL quarterback turned QB evaluator, said of Rosen on Peter King's MMBQ podcast, "If you watch him work, watch him play quarterback, in the pocket, there's no way you become as efficient as he is without caring about it and doing it all the time — it's just impossible. He's as refined and efficient pre- and postsnap as [any] guy that's been coming out in the draft in a long time. You don't get that way by just doing it four days a week. It has to be an everyday thing."
Mora thinks Rosen fits with the Jets. Farmer says league sources agree. But what do GM Mike Maccagnan, head coach Todd Bowles and offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates think? Will he be there when the Green & White pick No. 3 overall? If so, will they take him?
Despite all the talk and speculation about all the quarterbacks in this draft, only the Jets know for sure. And they're not saying until April 26.
Top Images of the Quarterbacks Working Out at the 2018 NFL Combine