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NFL Draft

TDN Scouting Roundtable: Cautionary Tale Of Josh Rosen

  • The Draft Network
  • June 10, 2020
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It seems like the 2020 NFL Draft just happened, but we move fast here at The Draft Network.

Currently going through summer evaluations for the 2021 NFL Draft class, our scouting team of Kyle Crabbs, Joe Marino, Jordan Reid, and Drae Harris are meeting up every day to discuss prospects, traits, and concepts. New to TDN is a daily scouting roundtable where we go through and identify the most important points of conversation from that day’s meeting.

On Wednesday we discussed the QB position in-depth, including new trends, what traits to look for, and the key leadership qualities to evaluate.

The Cautionary Tale of Josh Rosen

It seems like a decade has passed since Josh Rosen was taken 10th overall by the Arizona Cardinals. At one point the UCLA product was the “next big thing” at the position, set to take the reins from legends like Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers. Now the signal-caller is riding the pine in Miami, destined for a third-string role unless he’s traded for the second time in two years. 

So, where exactly did things go wrong? Sure, he’s dealt with poor coordinators, organizational turmoil, and awful offensive lines, but one of the main lessons from Rosen’s downfall comes from a single trait—mobility.

“Rosen was my top-ranked QB in the 2018 draft class,” Reid explained while discussing the impact of a quarterback’s legs. “The biggest lesson I learned from his evaluation was mobility.  When you look back at the rest of the QBs in the (2018) group, all those guys had instant success in the league in large part because of their legs, but the one guy who wasn’t very mobile—even though he wasn’t put in a great situation—was Josh Rosen.”

Crabbs shared this same sentiment, stating that, “If you’re going to have lapses while you’re learning on the job, you have to have that mobility component (to offset it). Rookie QBs are going to make mistakes and errors, but do you have the ability and skill set to bail yourself out?  Rosen doesn’t.”

As Harris went on to explain, as a former corner, “Nothing is more demoralizing as a defender, then it being 3rd-and-8, you have everyone covered, and the QB runs for a first down.”

Ultimately, Rosen, despite a large number of positive qualities, doesn’t have that trait and he's had an unsuccessful NFL career as a result.

Accuracy vs. Ball Placement

Aren’t they the same thing just worded differently? It’s easy to think that, but they’re actually very different traits.  

“Accuracy is really what you see with completion percentage”, Reid described while defining each trait. “Just because you have a high completion percentage doesn’t mean your ball placement is great. Ball placement is more of an awareness skill given how you read the defender.”

Crabbs followed up on this by giving a specific 2021 NFL Draft example.

“With Tanner Morgan at Minnesota, he completed 66% of his passes last year, but everything was above the rim. He was lucky he had a big body like Rashod Bateman to help him out in those situations. Yes, you could look at 66% completion percentage and 11 yards per attempt and think ‘wow,’ but his placement stood out as a negative to me. He made his guys work for catches.”

Harris finished the discussion by giving his input as a former defender.  

“From a secondary perspective, a QB always wants to put the ball on the wideout’s numbers away from the defender. At the end of the day, (ball) placement is protecting your receivers' bodies, protecting the football, and throwing away from leveraged defenders.”

Intangibles are Key

It’s not easy to articulate, but the intangibles that a QB provides are unmatched. A player can have all the physical tools in the world (looking at you Jamarcus Russell), but without quality leadership skills, effort, and poise, they won’t have success.

A few perfect examples of this are players like Ryan Fitzpatrick and Gardner Minshew, two mediocre talents that have been able to energize teams without “prototypical” traits for the position.

“One of the most important traits for QBs is leadership,” Harris stated. “Who you truly are is revealed through adversity. Your poise sends shockwaves throughout the rest of the team.  Seeing what type of culture and leadership they can infuse into a team is crucial to the evaluation process.”

Reid agreed, saying: “We don’t have a lot of exposure with these QBs in terms of getting them up on the whiteboard, (although) we do get to see them command the media at the combine.  Whenever Tua or Burrow was at the podium you really felt their presence and they filled the room.”

Both those QBs, of course, went on to be top-five picks in the 2020 NFL Draft.

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