NFL Draft

2018 NFL Draft Player Profiles: UCLA QB Josh Rosen

From now until the 2018 NFL Draft takes place, we hope to showcase as many prospects as possible and examine both their strengths and weaknesses. Most of these profiles will feature individuals that the Pittsburgh Steelers are likely to have an interest in, while a few others will be top-ranked players. If there is a player you would like us to analyze, let us know in the comments below.

#3 Josh Rosen / QB / UCLA: 6’3”, 210lbs

The Good:

– Played in a pro-style scheme; very comfortable dropping from under center
– Great pocket mechanics: Climbs pocket well, protects the ball, balanced lateral slides
– Very polished footwork: Keeps a wide base, doesn’t over-stride on throws, no false steps, quick feet
– Feet reset in sync with eyes/head
– Accurate passer when in rhythm
– Compact delivery and high release point
– Excellent play-action fakes
– Capable passer on designed rollouts/bootlegs
– Sees hot reads, throws into the vacated blitz area, and looks off safeties
– Doesn’t typically force throws, takes what the defense gives him

The Bad:

– Slighter frame and injury history (concussions, soft tissue surgery on throwing shoulder)
– Tends to throw off back foot when he feels incoming pressure
– Has a bad habit of throwing late back across the field when outside the pocket
– Often throws short of the chains on third down
– Average arm strength; inconsistent on deep throws
– Struggles in scramble situations
– Accuracy and ball placement diminish when throwing from unclean pockets or in the face of pressure


– 2015 Stats: 13 games, 292 completions on 487 attempts (60.0%) for 3,669 yards, 23 TDs 11 INTs
– 2015 Achievements:
– 2016 Stats: 6 games (soft tissue shoulder injury), 137 completions on 231 attempts (59.3%) for 1,915 yards, 10 TDs 5 INTs
– 2016 Achievements: Honorable mention Pac-12 Conference Football All-Academic team selection
– 2017 Stats: 11 games (concussion injury), 283 completions on 452 attempts (62.6 %) for 3,756 yards, 26 TDs 10 INTs
– Achievements: 2015: The Sporting News’ Freshman of the Year, USA Today 1st team Freshman All-America selection, The Sporting News’ 1st team Freshman All-America selection … FWAA 1st team Freshman All-America selection, Pac-12 Conference Offensive Freshman of the Year (coaches) … Pac-12 Newcomer of the Year (AP)
2016: Honorable mention Pac-12 Conference Football All-Academic team selection
2017: Named second-team All-Pac-12 by the coaches. Helped to engineer the largest comeback in UCLA history in a 45-44 win over Texas A&M after trailing 44-10 in the third quarter.
– Non-football: Parents were both national gold medal ice dancers and figure skaters. Rosen was a former Top-10 Junior Tennis Star before high school.

Tape Breakdown:

Josh Rosen is arguably the most pro-ready quarterback in this year’s draft. Above all, he is extremely fundamentally sound: his footwork is balanced and synchronized (from both gun and under center); his head/eyes initiate his body movements; his play fakes are effective and uniform, and his feel for the pocket is smooth and instinctual. Moreover, his experience playing in UCLA’s pro-style offense will undoubtedly help him transition to the NFL. Despite these positives; however, Rosen has several areas that clearly need improvement if he wants to realize his full potential at the next level. Specifically, his decision-making when facing pressure, as well as unnecessary risk-taking could limit his success. Examples of these strengths and weakness are detailed below.

In this first clip against Memphis, Rose demonstrates his comfort dropping from under center, his familiarity with pro-style passing concepts, as well as his excellent touch and accuracy from clean pocket setups. Specifically, UCLA is running the famous “Spider 2, Y-Banana” route combination against Memphis’ Cover 1. Rosen is poised in the pocket, despite the added pressure that accompanies a drop back into one’s own end zone, and delivers a pinpoint throw to the tight end’s “banana” pattern. Somewhere, Jon Gruden is smiling:

Next against USC, Rosen showcases his instinctual feel for the pocket, as well as his willingness to take what the defense gives him. He does a great job of feeling the rush, protecting the ball with both hands, stepping up in the pocket, and all while keeping his eyes solidly locked downfield. These are all perfect pocket movement fundamentals:

One of my favorite things about Rosen’s mechanics is how his feet are always moving in sync with his eyes and head. For example, here against Texas A&M, he starts the play with his eyes/shoulders/feet all pointed directly downfield. He next briefly considers dumping the ball to his check down on the far side of the field, and his shoulders/feet follow suit. Lastly, he efficiently resets his body back towards the nearside when he spots his tight end pop open on a 10-yard out route. It’s also worth noting that Rosen does not gain or lose any ground in the pocket when making these movements. Rather, he stands firmly in the middle of the pocket while the pass rush flows around him. This is a seemingly standard play that actually highlights the subtleties of his polished footwork:

On the negative side, one glaring weakness in Rosen’s game is his decision-making when plays do not go according to plan. He often throws off his back foot when pressure is closing, and he can be prone to throwing the ball back across the field when scrambling. This interception against Memphis is a combination of both of these mistakes:

In this final clip against Memphis, Rosen fails to see the late safety blitz and panics when the rusher goes unblocked. Obviously this blown protection is not his fault; however, good quarterbacks still manage bad situations in the most advantageous manner possible. Here, he needs to either take the sack or throw the ball away, rather than weakly floating a pass down the sideline off his back foot:

To be fair to Rosen, he clearly played with subpar surrounding talent and often dealt with blown protection schemes, inferior route-running, and dropped passes. Consequently, it is even more difficult than usual to a conduct an accurate evaluation of his potential, given that his true ability was obscured by these factors. Overall; however, Rosen showed more than enough on the field to warrant his hype as a likely top-3 pick.

Projection: Early Day 1

Games Watched: at Memphis (2017), vs Stanford (2016), vs Arizona State (2017), at Washington (2017), vs Texas A&M (2017), at USC (2017)

Previous 2018 NFL Draft Player Profiles
Sam Darnold Garret Dooley Calvin Ridley Fred Warner Ronald Jones II
Maurice Hurst Mike McCray DeShon Elliott  Malik Jefferson  Trayvon Henderson
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