Rich kid. Entitled. Hard to coach. Poor leader. Bad teammate.
Josh Rosen knows his rep.
Google “Does Josh Rosen love football?” and you’ll get dozens of stories suggesting he does not.
Rosen, the outrageously talented UCLA quarterback and potential No. 1 overall pick, knows he has one real chance to change that narrative before the draft.
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And that’s this week, here, at the NFL Scouting Combine. He will meet with the teams that might take him — and try to set them straight. (Rosen had not visited with Dolphins coach Adam Gase as of Friday afternoon.)
The point he hopes to get across: that he does indeed love the game.
“We all work our butt off,” Rosen told reporters. “If we didn’t like football, no matter how talented we are, we wouldn’t be in the position that we all are here this week. I mean, I love football with all of my heart and soul. If I didn’t, I just don’t think I’d have made it through the grind of college.”
Rosen insists that he will not “present a fake image of myself” to teams, but certainly, he was prepared — perhaps even rehearsed — for the questions he inevitably would face this week.
And to Rosen’s credit, he passed the public test. He was cordial, willing and candid during his 15-minute Q&A.
“You have to lead in your own individual way,” Rosen said. “I’m not a big rah-rah guys. And if I tried to, my teammates would see right through it. It’s not about me. It’s about the team. Anything I can do to make the team better, I’m going to do. I’m going to do that on a person-by-person basis.”
Rosen is not a typical jock. He’s really smart — and opinionated.
But he does rub some people the wrong way.
An unnamed NFL scout told NFL.com that “he wasn’t the guy everyone rallied around in college and you don’t have to dig around for too long to find people who said he was hard to coach. He’s definitely talented. Nobody questions that. But he’s going to have to get grown men to buy into him as their leader. That is not a given.”
But UCLA center Scott Quessenberry, who actually shared a huddle with Rosen, painted a far different picture Thursday.
“When things go wrong and aren’t looking the way you want them to look, Josh is a guy you want to have in the backfield commanding the offense and making all the throws and making all the reads,” Quessenberry said.
“I don’t know where it comes from,” Quessenberry added, when asked about the criticism Rosen gets. “It drives me insane. I have a really good relationship with Josh, and I think he’ll tell you the same thing about me and we talk, and for him to get the rap that he gets, it’s BS because of the type of guy that he is and the type of stand up human being that he is and the type of pro that he’s going to be. He’s a great dude, I love hanging around him and being with him, and whoever gets him is extremely lucky. They’re getting a once in a millennium talent, in my opinion.”
If this topic seems familiar to Dolphins (and Bears) fans, it should. These quotes could have just as easily applied to Jay Cutler, whose personality also did not fit the mold of an NFL quarterback.
But Gase was just fine with Cutler’s quirks, and it stands to reason he would be open to working with Rosen, who is a rare talent.
And while he does not have the swagger of Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield (another possible top 10 pick), he is confident in his own way.
“I think I’m the best quarterback here,” Rosen said. “I think I can diagnose defenses and put the ball where it needs to be. I think I make good decisions. I think we’re all competitors and I think every single quarterback should have the same exact belief that I do.”
Rosen added: “I think you have to be yourself. You have to be authentic. You have to show that you’ve learned and grown over the years. You have to own your mistakes. I think that’s what I’m trying to show. I’m trying to show who I really am, not who I’m trying to be, because I don’t want them to draft someone they think they’re getting and then not to get that guy. I think that’s also what your teammates want. Your teammates don’t want a fake shell of yourself. Teammates want you to be you every single day, so that you’re that reliable rock they can count on.”