ARIZONA CARDINALS

Former UCLA OC: Josh Rosen ‘most impressive freshman QB’ he’s seen

Apr 27, 2018, 1:52 PM | Updated: Apr 28, 2018, 11:40 am

FILE - In this Nov. 18, 2017, file photo, UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen passes during the first half ...

FILE - In this Nov. 18, 2017, file photo, UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen passes during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Southern California in Los Angeles. Every quarterback prospect in the upcoming NFL draft has a major flaw or drawback that keeps them from being the consensus best one of the bunch. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File)

(AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File)

LISTEN: Noel Mazzone, Former UCLA and current U of A OC

It was only one season, but Arizona Cardinals quarterback Josh Rosen impressed then-UCLA offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone in 2015.

“This has been 35 years of doing this, and he was the most impressive freshman quarterback, or young quarterback, I’d ever been around,” Mazzone said on Doug & Wolf on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station on Friday.

It prompted him to tell Cardinals general manager Steve Keim about the true freshman. Mazzone and Keim are friends, and Keim visited the UCLA practice field when Mazzone worked for the Bruins.

“(Mazzone) ran up to me at practice and said you’ll be back in three years, this guy is special,” Keim recalled on Doug & Wolf’s show a couple hours before Mazzone came on. “I sort of followed Josh throughout his career, and the rest is history, as they would say.”

Did Mazzone mean it, or was he just trying to hype up his new recruit to a friend?

“Actually, I did,” he said.

He said Rosen has the ability to see the big picture and slow down the game. Mazzone saw it immediately – in Rosen’s very first collegiate game, the true freshman threw for 351 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions while completing 80 percent of his passes.

UCLA beat Virginia 34-16.

“You got a guy out there in his first game in the Rose Bowl against Virginia that he’s manipulating defenders, moving defenses and doing things that sometimes you have guys you coach for four years and they still can’t do that,” Mazzone said.

Rosen’s ability to read the defense before the snap and make adjustments comes back to one attribute Mazzone continued to reference: his intelligence.

He said things come easy to Rosen, who would frequently ask why the offense was doing something or offer different ideas.

Why they’re doing something and offer different solutions or to check other plays. Mazzone thinks his offense bored Rosen.

“He needs to be challenged and the more you challenge him, I think the moment’s never too big for him,” Mazzone said.

Second Round

Mazzone was an offensive coordinator at Texas A&M over the last two years before moving to Arizona with Kevin Sumlin, who’s now the Wildcats head coach.

At A&M, Mazzone got to work with wide receiver Christian Kirk.

Mazzone said he would “100 percent” recommend the Cardinals drafting the receiver from Saguaro High School in Scottsdale.

“It’s probably a long list of All-Pro receivers … that get taken in the first round,” Mazzone said. “I think any team that gets Christian is going to be extremely happy.

In two seasons under Mazzone, Kirk caught 154 passes for 1,847 yards and 19 touchdowns. He also scored seven touchdowns as a kick and punt returner during his three-year college career.

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