Rookie Rundown: QB Josh Rosen, UCLA

Rookie Rundown: QB Josh Rosen, UCLA

Rookie Analysis

Rookie Rundown: QB Josh Rosen, UCLA

(Mark J. Rebilas, USA TODAY Sports)

Highly regarded as one of the elite prospects, regardless of position, in the 2018 NFL Draft, UCLA’s Josh Rosen perhaps has the most upside of any quarterback in the class — and possibly the highest ceiling of all players this year.

Height: 6-foot-4
Weight: 226 pounds
40 time: 4.92 seconds

Josh Rosen stats (2015-17)

YEAR
TEAM
CMP
ATT
PCT
YDS
AVG
TD
INT
2015
UCLA
292
487
60.0
3670
7.5
23
11
2016
UCLA
137
231
59.3
1915
8.3
10
5
2017
UCLA
283
452
62.6
3756
8.3
26
10

Few quarterbacks in any draft class come with the raw arm talent possessed by Rosen. He can make all of the throws and in impressive fashion. Following a first-team All-American honor as a high school senior, UCLA saw enough potential to make Rosen its only freshman to start opening day for the Bruins. Rosen didn’t disappoint, earning Freshman of the Year honors after setting multiple records for the school.

A shoulder injury, which required surgery, ended Rosen’s sophomore campaign just six games into the season. The 2017 season was marked by peaks and valleys, including a monstrous opening day (491 yards, 4 TDs). The lows included having to sit a pair of games because of separate concussions, and Rosen struggled with turnovers — eight INTs in four games — to begin the year.

Pros

  • Natural arm talent jumps off the screen
  • Mechanical attributes are polished — footwork and throwing motion resemble those of seasoned pros.
  • Stands tall in the pocket and delivers the ball with accuracy
  • Nice touch when necessary. Nails the back-shoulder throw as well as anyone coming out of the college ranks.
  • Played nearly one-third of his snaps from under center in 2017
  • Understands nuanced details that allow him to throw open receivers — body fakes, pumps, etc.
  • Instinctual with excellent field vision
  • Natural pocket-passing ability who puts a tight spiral and delivers a catchable ball
  • Bright football mind — displays advanced understanding of playcalling

Cons

  • Skinny frame contributes to major concerns of injury — two concussions plus shoulder injury in less than two years at UCLA. Injury history dating back to high school days. Lack of mobility could make him a sitting duck in the NFL.
  • Too reliant on natural arm ability. Forces many throws into tight windows rather than displaying better anticipation.
  • Poor mobility allows for too many sacks and opportunities for injury.
  • Coachability and leadership are questioned — needs to prove he is committed to being a student of the game and not play the hero role. Gunslinger mentality can get him into turnover trouble.
  • Risk-reward ratio that skews more negative than most would like with a likely top-three pick. Bust factor is greater than any of the other QBs in the first-round conversation.
  • Deep-ball accuracy is suspect

Fantasy outlook

Rosen is a polarizing prospect. He displays some attributes of the great Aaron Rodgers (arm talent), “should-have-been” Sam Bradford (immobility/durability), and pure bust JaMarcus Russell (questionable desire). He will need to enter the perfect scenario from a coaching perspective to get the most out of his game, and it all comes down to how much Rosen wants it. No one can coach desire if a player is self-sabotaging.

Injuries are a bigger concern than the passion stuff. He legitimately could follow a Bradford career path — a high pick who shows his talent when on the field but rarely is on the field. He’ll need a strong offensive line, and it’s seemingly a guarantee Rosen will eventually miss time.

The likelihood of Rosen falling past the New York Jets at No. 3 is virtually zero. The Jets didn’t trade up to draft a lineman. There is a small chance the New York Giants take Rosen at No. 2 or opt for a trade out of the selection with a team enamored with the junior passer. Cleveland holds the first pick and seems set on taking the safer Sam Darnold.

It may take a few years before fantasy owners see the benefits of Rosen as a pro quarterback. In full-retention keeper formats, he’s a quality gamble for being the future of the position for your squad. In any setup, make sure to draft a viable starter as a backup when Rosen is eventually counted on as a fantasy starter.

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