Some Early Thoughts on UCLA QB Josh Rosen

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The first Josh Rosen tape that I put on when beginning my film study was a 2015 game against Virginia, in which he became the first true freshman to start at quarterback for UCLA in a season opener. In that game, he showcased traits of a future number one overall pick. Not only was his arm talent evident but mentally, he was on point, showing the ability to go through progressions and dissect a defense with deadly accuracy. He went on to have a highly successful freshman year, being named Pac-12 Offensive Freshman of the Year. His sophomore season, however, was a huge disappointment, as he threw 11 interceptions in just 6 games before his season was cut short by injury. Rosen’s draft stock, like all prospects, can go one of two ways depending on how he performs this upcoming season. With another underwhelming season, I would not be surprised to see him fall out of the first round, given the plethora of quarterback talent expected to come out after this season. However, if he can continue to develop and build on the skills that I saw in his freshman year and at times during his sophomore season, I believe that the sky is the limit for Rosen, and that he could propel himself into the conversation for the first pick in the draft.

Rosen is as mechanically clean as any quarterback I have seen come out of college in the past couple of years. His mechanics are close to flawless, and he possesses a beautifully smooth throwing motion and a quick release.

Show me another college quarterback with a prettier throwing motion than this. I’ll wait.

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Rosen shows great touch and accuracy on deep throws, and he can be accurate when forced to throw off his back foot. I was very impressed with his calmness and composure in the pocket, including his ability to move well to avoid pressure when he sees it. Rosen does a lot of the small things well, such as expertly selling play action fakes and then setting up quickly to fire off a pass.

In this play against Stanford, we see an example of his ability to fool defenders with a play action fake. One of the toughest throws for a right-handed quarterback to make is when rolling out to his left, and Rosen absolutely nails this one.

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Rosen is a good athlete who can pick up yards as a runner, and he is very comfortable throwing on the move in either direction.  While I believe that experience in a pro-style offense has become a somewhat overrated aspect of a prospect’s evaluation, he regularly took snaps from under center, which can only help him at the next level.

His game is very clean, so it was quite difficult for me to find many flaws. He needs to do a better job at seeing pressure (his poor offensive line does not help matters), and I would like to see more consistency in his accuracy in general. It is also worth noting that he suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in his sophomore season that required surgery. I will be interested to see whether there are any lingering effects from this throughout the upcoming season, as this could significantly stunt his development. I hope that this is not the case, and I have no reason to believe that it would be, given the overwhelmingly positive reports that have come out of Bruins’ camp to date.

Admittedly, I am higher on Rosen than most. He is my top-rated draft-eligible quarterback heading into the 2017 college football season. ‘Clean’ is the buzzword that I will constantly use to describe him throughout the pre-draft process; he is a very well-rounded player who looks natural and effortless playing the position. I love quarterbacks who have nailed down their footwork and throwing mechanics, because I feel that this gives them an excellent foundation from which they can further develop skills and fine-tune other parts of their game. While he might not have the elite arm talent of a player like Wyoming’s Josh Allen, Rosen’s mechanics, pocket composure and mental maturity are to be admired. I strongly believe that this is a player who is deserving of the first overall pick next April if he can show that his arm strength is not affected by the shoulder injury suffered last season.

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Follow me on Twitter @iamcathal

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