INDIANAPOLIS – Before any other business, UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen had to address the report that he didn’t want to play for the Cleveland Browns. Cleveland has the first and fourth picks and is in the market for a quarterback.
Rosen said he couldn’t already not want to play for the Browns because he hasn’t been there and hasn’t even spoken to the coaching staff at length.
“It’s impossible to formulate opinions when you really haven’t done any research on the actual place,” Rosen said. “I’ll need to visit there, hang out with them.
“Whoever I end up with, I’m excited to take on those challenges.”
Having to answer that as soon as he got to the podium sums up the challenges Rosen himself faces before the draft. It seems like the biggest story with Rosen this week isn’t how strong his arm will be in workouts or how accurate he’ll be. It’s trying to get across to teams that the perceptions of him leading up to the NFL scouting combine might not be accurate.
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There have been comments about Rosen’s attitude and how much he loves the game. The best he can do is try to put that to rest through this week as he meets with teams.
“That’s why I’m excited to be here,” Rosen said. “If teams still question my love for the game after this week, after they actually really got to know me, that might bother me a little bit more. But I think coaches want to see what I care about.”
There were minor issues in college, such as him having a hot tub in his dorm. Some people didn’t like his honest comments about the realities of being a student-athlete. There wasn’t necessarily anything major, certainly not from a legal standpoint, but it’s all part of him having to answer questions about who he really is.
“You have to own your mistakes,” Rosen said. “I may not have broken the actual letter of the law, but I understand I have made mistakes in the past, and I have grown from it. It’s a process that never stops.”
There are also questions about what kind of leader Rosen is. He said he’s not a rah-rah leader but does it by example. His media conference at the scouting combine on Friday was subdued, especially after he came to the podium right after Baker Mayfield’s highly entertaining, brash interview. Mayfield might not be for every team due to his personality, and the same can be said about Rosen, though in a much different way.
“Maybe if they think I’m a good player but I’m not a good fit for their personality profile, I can respect that,” Rosen said. “A team is evaluating not just how good you are on a scale of 1-10, but how good of a fit you are for their team. I’m just trying to come out here and present who I am as a person and player and let them make the right decision.”
The talent on the field isn’t a big issue. He said his biggest strength was being able to quickly process the play in front of him, which was evident at UCLA and a trait every NFL quarterback needs. When it comes to questions about Rosen’s mechanics, there simply are none.
“He’s the best pure thrower, best pure passer I’ve seen in several years,” NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said in a conference call. “I mean, he’s on balance on every throw. He’s accurate short, intermediate and deep.”
The one hangup Mayock and others might have with Rosen is his injury history. He had shoulder surgery in 2016 and suffered two concussions last season.
“I’m concerned whether or not he can play enough games to make a significant dent in the NFL,” Mayock said. “So I love his talent, but I’m very worried about his ability to survive.”
Teams will be intrigued by Rosen’s skill set, and the questions about the rest of the package will have to be answered during interviews at the combine and in pre-draft visits. If he passes all those tests, he could end up going as high as the first pick of the draft.
“Teams are looking for different kinds of personalities and all different kinds of guys,” Rosen said. “I’m not going to present a fake image of myself.
“I think that you have to be yourself, you have to be authentic and you have to show you’ve learned and grown. You have to own your mistakes. I’m trying to show who I really am, not who I’m trying to be. I don’t want them to draft someone they think they’re getting, and not get that guy.”