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Crabbs | Josh Rosen showed NFL passing concepts against Hawaii

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Scouting Notes

Crabbs | Josh Rosen showed NFL passing concepts against Hawaii

As it turns out, the potential crop of quarterbacks for 2018 isn’t as awful as knee jerk reactions insinuated it was after Week 1 of the college football season. After Week 2? Fans and scouts saw some great rebound performances. But two passers have had strong showings in consecutive weeks. The first, Lamar Jackson, is the reigning Heisman Trophy winner and has been on a torrid pace offensively. His improvements as a passer are eye opening and will help him quickly gain steam as a prospect.

The other? UCLA’s Josh Rosen. Rosen returned from a throwing shoulder injury in 2016 to help storm the Bruins back from a 34 point deficit late in the 3rd quarter vs. Texas A&M last week. He was lucky at times, but impressive in many instances as well. (You almost HAVE to be lucky to come back from down 34).

This week? A much more sustainable model of success for Rosen, albeit against much lesser competition as the Bruins hosted the Rainbow Warriors of Hawaii.

The passing numbers were always going to be large in a game like this, where one team is so vastly outgunned. So let’s ignore the numbers for a moment and look at the context of what Josh Rosen was asked to do. I liked what I saw.

A spot throw to beat pressure

This is great anticipation from the UCLA QB, no ands, ifs or buts. Play action and 5-step drop paired with a corner route is a great combination to defeat a Cover 2 coverage concept to the bottom of the screen. Adding in the spacing of the pre-snap alignment (which leaves ample room for the corner route to hit outside the numbers), this is a winning concept. It’s also one Rosen will likely find no matter where he goes in the pros.

Pressure forces Rosen to forego stepping into this throw and also forces this ball to come out somewhat prematurely. But note the accurate placement to a spot in between the sunken CB and the SAF. Josh Rosen also does well getting the ball out early, leaning away from pressure to do so.

Throwing in between zones

Again, another intermediate route isolated to the top of the screen against Cover 2.  This time on 3rd and 15, Rosen does well lacing a well placed ball between the CB and the SAF to hit his receiver and help convert a first down.

Perhaps the most impressive part of this play is trusting his eyes: as Rosen cocks to throw, the CB is still in a position to challenge the curl route. But the CB has eyes in the flat, keying on the swing route that’s designed to suck up a flat defender. Sure enough, the zone defender keeps his hips open to the line of scrimmage; failing to bail up the field and challenge this throw.

Rosen’s strike was well placed, but it’s his understanding that conceptually the CB is binded to honor the flat that allows him to hit this throw and move the sticks.

A tight throw in a tight area

It takes a big arm to make this throw work. Again on third down, Rosen makes a well placed throw to the proper area of the field. The Bruins choose to attack this play with double twins WRs; both stacked. With Hawaii playing off the ball, this alignment puts the defense in a bit of a communications bind: who takes who if they go in certain directions.

The mesh concept is in full effect as Rosen’s eyes work right to left, and two zone defenders in the middle of the field commit hard to taking away an early read, the “spot” route that pulls up on the 3 yard line. But the defense’s eagerness to take away the early read stretches zones in the middle of the field. This allows Josh Rosen to work back into the drag and as the WR works his eyes inside between zones; Rosen obliges with a well thrown football.

It’s still early. And the UCLA Bruins struggled greatly against the Aggies for 3 quarters to open their season; having a hard time separating or protecting for their blue chip QB. But Josh Rosen’s steady play down the stretch is one of the reasons the team is 2-0, and he’s doing it with some quality NFL traits and concepts.

Kyle Crabbs

Kyle Crabbs is the founder/Director of Scouting of NDT Scouting Services, a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and the lead NFL Draft analyst for the FanRag Sports Network.

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