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Cardinals view Josh Rosen’s outspoken personality as a plus

UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen rolls out during UCLA's pro day for NFL draft prospects in Los Angeles, Thursday, March 15, 2018. (AP Photo/Michael Owen Baker)

LISTEN: Steve Wilks, Cardinals Head Coach

TEMPE, Ariz. – Moments after the Cardinals selected quarterback Josh Rosen with the No. 10 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft on Thursday, Rosen told ESPN’s Suzy Kolber: “I’m more motivated than I’ve ever been in my entire life.”

Later that evening, Rosen explained why.

“I thought I should have been picked at 1, 2 or 3,” he told Arizona media on a conference call. “I dropped and I was pissed.

“Maybe if I shut up these last three years I could have been picked higher.”

Rosen has been in the spotlight for so long as a three-year starter at UCLA that every part of his game and personality have been picked clean to the bone by media, fans and NFL personnel. Part of that feeding frenzy included Rosen’s penchant for speaking his mind.

He doesn’t believe school and college football mix. He thinks concerns over CTE in football are overblown. He doesn’t care for President Donald Trump and he wasn’t about to be muzzled by his former coach at UCLA, Jim L. Mora, who wanted Rosen to shy away from the spotlight and social issues to focus on football.

“I want to be me,” Rosen said. “I’m not pulling for one side or the other. I’m just going to encourage people to speak their mind and have opinions and shape those opinions, form those opinions, have a conversation. I want to make it cool to be a good person and to talk and have conversations about everything, whether it be politics or anything.”

That stance didn’t scare the Cardinals as it may have scared other teams. The Cards traded the No. 15 pick, their second, third-round pick (No. 79) and their fifth-round pick (No. 152) to acquire him.

“Everybody is wired differently,” Cardinals general manager Steve Keim said. “The great news is a lot of this position is played between the ears and this guy in my opinion is arguably the most intelligent in this draft.

“I don’t think he’s afraid to say what’s on his mind which I don’t always think is a bad thing. There’s been some pretty successful quarterbacks in recent years who have been wired the same way, who have said what is on their mind, who have had a thirst to learn from their coaches, to ask for more responsibility from the coaches in terms of play calls and checking at the line of scrimmage, which again, I think is exciting because the guy is dialed in mentally.”

Keim has a good relationship with former Bruins offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone (now at Arizona and formerly at Arizona State), who coached Rosen in his freshman season at UCLA. Mazzone had nothing but glowing things to say about Rosen the person and Rosen the player.

“One of the best pure throwers I have ever been around in 30 years,” Mazzone said. “He’s accurate, he can anticipate throws, he’s got all the different speeds, all the different slots of his arm. Without a doubt to me, he was as NFL-ready as any quarterback.”

Mazzone witnessed some of the friction between Rosen and Mora. Like Keim, he sees no issue with Rosen’s personality.

“If he didn’t do those things then he wouldn’t be Josh,” Mazzone said. “He says what’s on his mind and he’s usually right. He’s just very intelligent. He gets the game, he understands it. I actually think he probably got bored with the stuff we were doing on offense because it wasn’t challenging enough for him.”

While Rosen doesn’t plan to change his approach, he has no intention of making waves when he arrives at Cardinals camp alongside presumed starter Sam Bradford and backup Mike Glennon. He knows his place.

“I’m not going to come in and be an a-hole and think that my [expletive] don’t stink,” he said. “I understand the situation. Sam Bradford and Mike Glennon are two amazing quarterbacks but we’re all professionals and we’re going to compete our butts off. Regardless of who the starter is, we’re all going to support that person.

“Obviously, I want to be the starter but if I’m not I’m going to support the team. I’m not team Josh Rosen. I’m part of the Arizona Cardinals and I want to win Super Bowls for the Arizona Cardinals.”

It took five years under Keim to make it happen, but the Cardinals believe they finally drafted their quarterback of the future on Thursday. If Rosen reaches that lofty perch, his personality could prove to be a bonus to the franchise and the greater community.

“To make a difference you’ve got to be different,” coach Steve Wilks said. “I love his personality. He’s wired the right way.”


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