QB Josh Rosen is a name that, while still popular in league circles, has become something of an afterthought this summer after playing just six games for the UCLA Bruins in 2016. Rosen recently drew a comparison to long-time Giants QB Eli Manning from NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah, yet casual fans are much quicker to bring up names like Sam Darnold, Josh Allen or Lamar Jackson when discussing potential 2018 Quarterback targets.
I don’t expect that trend to last very long into the 2017 college football season. Football media can be quick to adopt an “out of sight, out of mind” approach. Rosen’s absence over the final six games left a glaring hole in the offense and the team stumbled to a 1-5 finish on the year. Rosen’s return under center for the Bruins will force pundits and fans alike to acknowledge his skill set, which looked to be developing at an impressive pace in 2016 after stumbling out of the gates against Texas A&M.
Rosen played admirably down the stretch against the Aggies, storming the Bruins back from a 15 point 4th quarter deficit before ultimately falling in overtime with his third interception sealing the loss. But his PAC-12 Conference work was where the passing offense really seemed to hum. Although the team went 1-2 against Stanford, Arizona and Arizona State, Rosen averaged 332 passing yards per game and 9.3 yards per attempt; whist accounting for 7 total touchdowns and just one turnover.
All of this, of course, before a nerve issue in his throwing shoulder landed him on the sideline for the second half of the year. Rosen’s build is naturally lean, but he’s done well to build up his muscle mass in an attempt to sustain himself against big hits. A full and healthy 2017 will be essential if Rosen ultimately declares for next year’s NFL Draft; otherwise the questions will creep in regarding his durability.
It would behoove Rosen to avoid providing ammunition to question him, as he already has some off the field speculation according to league sources. Both Monday Morning Quarterback’s Albert Breer and NFL.com’s Bucky Brooks have mentioned character/leadership questions in regard to Rosen this summer. Speculation is afoot that maturity issues will be an issue for some decision makers.
But Rosen’s on the field abilities will make General Managers think long and hard before striking him from their boards, regardless of when he’s eligible to be selected. Why? Because Josh Rosen, above all else, is a hell of a Quarterback.
There are few analysts in the football realm whom I hold in higher esteem than former NFL player and ESPN analyst Matt Bowen, who dug into Rosen’s freshman film a few months ago with a lot of valuable input. We’ll start with Matt’s analysis before shifting gears to 2016:
Going back through Josh Rosen's freshman tape…Read man-coverage & throw the out route. pic.twitter.com/QG6qF5R1Nt
— Matt Bowen (@MattBowen41) May 20, 2017
Rosen’s footwork is notably clean and this is no exception. Working out of the gun, the need for quick steps is mitigated and Rosen does well getting depth in his drop. Facing single high man coverage, Rosen holds eyes in the middle of the field before working to the back side read and nailing an out route on time and in sync with the break into the sideline.
It’s all the more impressive that Rosen’s mastery of the route and manipulating the Free Safety comes as a freshman, and his 2015 tape was littered with clues that this is a big time QB prospect.
— Matt Bowen (@MattBowen41) May 17, 2017
The first thing that stands out about this throw from Rosen is the slide in the pocket. No, it isn’t sudden. There’s no free running defender to sidestep. But the balance and ability to find clean space with eyes down the field? That’s terrific. It looks so casual for Rosen to shift off his initial platform but working into that clean space before dropping a bucket throw over top on a post is a splendid effort.
All of this goes without saying: both of these throws down the field are placed with pinpoint accuracy. Rosen’s deep work continued to show impressive effectiveness throughout his Sophomore season as well.
"You're a wizard, Rosen!" (Phenomenal job slipping rush and getting an accurate ball out from a sub-optimal platform) pic.twitter.com/9BkM9QLEXq
— Kyle Crabbs (@NDTScouting) July 22, 2017
The placement of this throw from such an awkward release point speaks to Rosen’s natural throwing ability. And again, just like the subtle slide from his Freshman season, Rosen’s extending of the play enables the throw to happen. This escape is much more blatant than the last; flushing out the front of the pocket and seeing a free running receiver down the field.
The theme of pocket movement was present in each and every game of Rosen I spectated. Below, against Brigham Young, Rosen again makes a late slide against a pass rusher before zipping a clean throw to move the chains.
The more I watched Josh Rosen the more apparent it became that he's already got a great feel for sliding in the pocket. pic.twitter.com/holw0fp3Fy
— Kyle Crabbs (@NDTScouting) July 23, 2017
Just like before, it’s not just that he eludes the rusher. It’s how easy it looks, how controlled Rosen is and how well he keeps his balance whist clearing his feet from traffic. That’s a terrific weapon for a pocket passer to have at his disposal: the ability to alter his throwing platform late prevents pass rushers from having any recovery efforts to challenge the throw.
And yet again, Rosen is deadly accurate with the strike up the field for a deeper completion.
The return of Josh Rosen is one of my most anticipated moments of the early 2017 season. Rosen returning to the fray adds another heavyweight candidate to a long list of potential early draft selections for the 2018 NFL Draft. A year and a half of solid film affirms that this is no aberration: Rosen is the real deal and in spite of a six game absence, he shouldn’t be out of any minds as the 2017 season creeps ever closer.