The eyebrows of Bruin fans were raised this week when Yahoo Sports reported that Jim Mora believes that there is a chance that Josh Rosen could return for his senior year at UCLA. Another year of Rosen would be tremendous and provide UCLA with much needed offensive continuity, not to mention give Dorian Thompson-Robinson a year to grow under Rosen’s tutelage. Considering the close relationship that Coach Mora has with Rosen, we cannot totally ignore such a strong statement from Mora.
“My firm belief is that he will not leave,” Mora said.
With that being said, mock NFL drafts are already slotting Rosen as an easy top five pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, and it would be hard to believe that Rosen would forgo the opportunity to earn top five money in the NFL in lieu of struggling to get the correct economics class in Westwood.
However, Rosen’s performance this year is going to go a long way to cement exactly where he will go in the draft. There is no doubt that the qualities that made Rosen a highly prized college recruit and a dynamic freshman QB at UCLA jump out on tape to NFL scouts.
I was recently watching the NFL’s First Look Scouting and Daniel Jeremiah gave glowing reviews for what he sees in Rosen’s game. He also shared what NFL system he feels Josh could flourish in. However, Jeremiah also recently polled NFL executives and asked them which college quarterback they thought was the best pro prospect and none of the five picked Rosen. Four of them picked Sam Darnold and one picked Josh Allen. That was most definitely not the case at this time last year. What a difference a year makes.
It seems to be some of the other intangibles that have some NFL folks a little worried. Maturity seems to be at the forefront of the worries for some of those NFL executives. An article from The Big Lead quotes unnamed AFC executive as saying:
He’s the one I know the best—he’s got size, athletic tools, velocity. He’s just a mess off the field and he’s coming off the injury. He needs to grow up, but the talent is off the charts.
In my opinion, it is inaccurate to classify Rosen as a “mess” off the field. Intelligent, articulate, outspoken, and young come to mind. What is clear, in football circles, is the fact that the athletic skills that Rosen possesses are clearly NFL caliber. I am sure that the “mess” perception that is out there is currently hurting Rosen. We all know that perception is reality for some, and I am sure that even current coaches have a perception of Rosen. I took the liberty to read between the lines of the Yahoo article, which quotes from Coach Fisch:
Physically, he has all the talent in the world. Mentally, he certainly is smart enough to do it.
It’s clear that Rosen’s talents and mental abilities are off the charts. His arm strength, footwork and his ability to learn the quarterback position are clear. However, it is also clear that there needs to be a merging of all of these attributes this year with a splash of maturity in order for UCLA and Rosen to get the most out of the 2017 season. That’s where the “smart enough” comes in. Rosen’s slot in the 2018 NFL draft is definitely not set and depends on this year’s performance. He has to be “smart enough” to put it all together this year.
I cannot see many scenarios playing out that would bring Rosen back for the 2018 season, probably not any. Would another injury-shortened season provide NFL executives so minimal of a resume on Rosen that his draft stock plummets, leaving Rosen no choice but to come back? Even if that scenario happened, the fear of another injury during his senior year would probably solidify a decision by him to grab the money while he can. So let’s hope that scenario does not play out for Rosen or UCLA. How about this scenario: Rosen has a tremendous 2017 season and leads UCLA to an unforgettable season, and he returns to UCLA for an encore senior year to finish what he started. I like that scenario for a Rosen return to Westwood the best, although again, not smart money.