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B/R’s Farrar: Cardinals’ Rosen should be an NFL Rookie of the Year favorite

The Arizona Cardinals introduce their first-round NFL football draft pick Josh Rosen, left, as he stands next to head coach Steve Wilks, right, Friday, April 27, 2018, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

A lot needs to happen for it to be true. Arizona Cardinals quarterback Josh Rosen won’t be a favorite to win the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, as Bleacher Report’s Doug Farrar believes, if he doesn’t play.

It’s probable that Sam Bradford will be the Cardinals’ starter come Week 1, and it’s possible Mike Glennon wins the backup job over Rosen.

Even considering the likelihood of Bradford and Glennon eating up all the playing time for Arizona, odds-makers still give Rosen a good shot at winning the offensive rookie of the year honor. He’s got the fourth-best odds, behind Giants running back Saquon Barkley, Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield and Bills quarterback Josh Allen.

Farrar, an NFL Draft analyst, remains higher on Rosen than most.

He simply likes the NFL-ready tools Rosen brings to the table, and Farrar doesn’t agree with several scouts that anonymously questioned the quarterback’s pocket awareness and mobility.

From watching tape throughout Rosen’s career, Farrar sees a polished, smart quarterback whose short-of-scintillating three years at UCLA also included flashes of brilliance.

Rosen completed 63 percent of his passes for 3,717 yards, 26 touchdowns and 10 interceptions as a junior, but he often played behind a injury-battled offensive line and threw to receiving groups that struggled as well.

Rosen’s next-level traits are evident, and you don’t see many college quarterbacks who have them developed as well as he does. He reads the field, he doesn’t telegraph his throws, and I don’t think enough is said about his functional mobility—both in and out of the pocket.

Given that Rosen spent some time in a West Coast offense more similar to that of the complex schemes run in the NFL, he’s ahead of the curve. Farrar believes Rosen has all the arm talent and the mechanics down.

Sometimes, he simply loses focus.

The first play in that series points a focus on one of the things Rosen needs to clean up: He’s far too cavalier about his ball location at times. That’s a clear overthrow past coverage, and this missed opportunity, against Texas A&M, is equally frustrating. Rosen got pressure in his face, but his mechanics were together enough to hit his receiver—he simply didn’t do it.

Is it easy to clean all that up? Farrar thinks so.

Cardinals offensive coordinator Mike McCoy will be tasked with keeping Rosen’s attention — former UCLA coach Jim Mora and offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone have both said the quarterback needs to be challenged.

In game action, if Arizona finds the rookie on the field, the challenge will involve making him take the easy throws instead of going for home run balls, Farrar adds.

Another issue Rosen must deal with is his tendency to overthink on the fly and try to make a hero play when all he needs to do is move the sticks. This sack on 2nd-and-6 against Washington is on Rosen entirely—he’s got an outlet receiver to his left, but he keeps drifting the other way. There are times, especially in the NFL, when a quarterback’s greatest attribute is knowing when it’s time to take an easy throw and move on to the next opportunity.

Add up the positives and the negatives, Farrar believes Rosen has what it takes above the shoulders and in the arm to succeed, at least more than the other quarterbacks who could play as rookies.

The real question is whether Arizona finds itself ready and needing to let Rosen spread his wings.