Josh Rosen is getting critiqued for being too smart, but should he refuse to play for the Cleveland Browns?
The top quarterback prospects in each year’s draft class take the lead in being dissected and critiqued, with arbitrary flaws often highlighted. For Josh Rosen it’s having thoughts he’s willing to verbalize, often intelligently, and coming from a wealthy family making it worth questioning if he loves football enough.
Jim Mora, Rosen’s college coach at UCLA, has not been doing his former quarterback any favors. Most recently Mora told Peter King of MMQB.com that Rosen is a “millennial” who needs to be “challenged intellectually”, while citing interests outside football as a negative point.
The millennial label fits every prospect in this year’s draft, and every prospect in each draft going back a few years. Rosen has shown that he can think differently and speak intelligently, and to suggest he can’t be channeled to focus on football when it’s time to strictly do so is a flimsy concept at best.
Rosen did suggest last November that he would return to school rather than chance being drafted by the Cleveland Browns. A month later he pointed to a desire to be taken by the right team with a lower pick, rather than by the wrong team higher in the first round. That seemed like a second shot across the Browns’ bow, since they have the first and fourth overall picks in the draft.
Further speculation from King suggests Browns general manager John Dorsey wants to take Josh Allen No. 1 overall in an attempt to fill a need at quarterback, then take running back Saquon Barkley at No. 4. So any anti-Browns posturing from Rosen may prove to be a moot point.
Rosen could attempt to force a trade if the Browns take him, like Eli Manning did in 2004 when the Chargers drafted him No. 1 overall. Or Rosen could refuse to sign with or play for Cleveland, then re-enter the draft in 2019 knowing the Browns won’t touch him.
It’s possible Mora is conspiring with Rosen to drop him down the first round of the draft, or at least out of the top four picks if they can turn the Browns off completely. A flat-out refusal to play for the Browns seems unlikely, but the cards Rosen holds could be offered as a back-channel warning to Dorsey if they do draft him.