UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen was nicknamed “The Chosen One” as a five-star high school recruit. Does he live up to that potential as an NFL prospect? Here’s what we see on film from the Bruins passer.
Rosen is the prototypical pocket passer, standing six-foot-four and weighing 226 pounds. He’s an average athlete for the position, but not statuesque in the pocket. Rosen did have exploratory shoulder surgery as a sophomore, but he came back in his junior season, making opposite hash throws like this one, and dispelled any doubts about his arm strength.
In other words, if you wanted to build a quarterback prospect, Rosen would probably be the default settings.
Mechanically, Rosen is especially clean. He has the best footwork in the draft, polished from years of playing tennis before he committed full-time to football. Rosen throws from an overhand slot with a fast throwing motion.
He takes care of small details in his game, too: showing the football when selling a play-action fake, using shoulder fakes or pump fakes to stall the defense, and resetting by stepping up in the pocket. Rosen does a great job of maintaining his throwing platform on the move, allowing him to duck pressure and fire off a throw, or spin the ball while throwing on the run.
Because of his exceptional mechanics, Rosen has some of the best throwing accuracy in this year’s draft. He can accurately deliver deep balls over 50 yards downfield, and can place passes in stride along the sidelines at up to 30 yards.
Rosen often leads his receivers to catch the ball at a particular shoulder, to take them away from incoming defenders. Sometimes, Rosen will go through a stretch with less precision, causing his receivers to leap or dive to catch his passes, but he eventually flips a switch and tightens up his mechanics in the next quarter.
Processing speed and decision-making
Rosen’s ability to read and understand the movements of players around the field is advanced. He understands how route concepts match up against coverage, uses his eyes to bait defenders, and progresses through full-field reads at good speed.
He can anticipate players coming open, even when the player isn’t his initial read on the play.
With his experience reading multiple levels of the field, Rosen already shows a veteran’s understanding of the mental side of the passing game. But that’s not the only topic we’ll cover here.
Josh Allen isn’t the only quarterback in this draft who likes to play Hero Ball. Despite Rosen’s advanced field reading and anticipation, he still flashes a tendency to make some boneheaded, high-risk decisions, often at the worst times. In the red zone, Rosen only completed 47.8 percent of his passes (second-worst among the top six QB prospects) and threw 4 interceptions, most among the top six quarterbacks. When playing with a single-score deficit, Rosen only managed six touchdowns against four interceptions, a ratio only equaled by Sam Darnold. Surprisingly, Allen, whose stats were otherwise awful, never threw any interceptions in those clutch situations.
If you could train out Rosen’s tendency to throw across his body or toss up the ball near a deep safety, you’d elevate his profile from Eli Manning to Peyton Manning. He’s not there yet.
In terms of the film, Rosen’s evaluation is practically a no-brainer. While he sometimes takes unnecessary risks with the football, and the right combination of pressure can force him into a sack, everything else about his game is mature and NFL-ready. Rosen has the athletic talent and processing speed to be an instant impact player in an NFL offense, and if he addresses his occasional lapses in precision and decision-making, his upside is tremendous.
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