After leading UCLA, QB Josh Rosen looks to lead the Cardinals
TEMPE, Ariz. – His command of the room.
Whether it was at the NFL Combine or when he visited the facility a short time later, how quarterback Josh Rosen handled himself is what really impressed the Arizona Cardinals. It’s what helped set Rosen apart from the other highly-rated quarterbacks in this year’s draft class and why the Cardinals felt convicted to move up five spots to draft him with the 10th overall pick.
“When you look at that position, you want a guy that has that leadership skill that he’s going to be able to step into that locker room, step into that huddle, and command it,” head coach Steve Wilks said.
Rosen was a three-year starter and two-time captain at UCLA, the latter of which general manager Steve Keim made sure to mention and has often pointed out with previous draft picks over the years.
But not every great quarterback is a great leader.
Those that are, however, work at it. In other words, it takes more than just being a quarterback.
“It’s a process. It takes time and effort. It’s relationship-based, and you got to know guys individually so there’s not sort of one swooping strategy to be a leader,” Rosen said Friday during his introductory press conference.
“Your guys just have to know that you care about them and that when push comes to shove you have their back as well as theirs yours, and that work comes on every day except Sunday. If you don’t have the money in the bank, you just got nothing to withdraw on Sundays.
“It’s messy, it’s sloppy,” Rosen continued. “I did that through three years at UCLA. Now I’m starting back at square zero, and hopefully I’m even better at it the second time around.”
During his time in the NFL, new Cardinals offensive coordinator Mike McCoy has been fortunate enough to work with a number of quarterbacks: Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers and Tim Tebow to name a few.
All had a different leadership style; some more vocal, others a bit quieter in getting their message across.
“But, I think, the one thing that they all do is that all their teammates believe when you’re in the fourth quarter and the game is on the line and you’re out there, you got a chance to win,” McCoy said.
“You just want that guy to be a leader and help your football team win.”
The Cardinals believe they found their next leader in Rosen.
“The three things, to me, that really stood out were his football acumen, his ability to process information, his football IQ; secondly, was his passion for the game, which is so important for that position; and then thirdly, to me, was his natural leadership skills, his ability to put the team on his back and to have guys fight for him,” Keim said.
— Asked about the prospect of being a future franchise quarterback, Rosen admitted it was daunting but nothing that he would shy away from.
“The biggest thing is knowing that I have careers on my back. I have families, I have kids and if I don’t play well and I don’t pan out, people have to get new jobs,” he said. “People get fired and things happen, so you got a lot on your shoulders but … I wouldn’t have left college early if I didn’t think I was ready for it.”
— On second thought, it’s not the nine players that were drafted ahead of Rosen but rather the three quarterbacks — Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold and Josh Allen — who had their names called before his that really upset him the most on draft night.
“There were three big mistakes ahead of me but honestly, it’s a blessing in disguise,” he said. “This is an unbelievable team that I think is really, really primed and set to do some incredible things in the future, and I think I just very simply lucked out.”
— During each of his three seasons at UCLA, Rosen wore No. 3 on the back of his uniform. It’s a number that’s available with the Cardinals now that Carson Palmer has retired.
“I looked up to Carson,” Rosen said. “When he was playing for the Bengals, him and Chad Johnson, or Ochocinco, were two of my favorite players. It’s an honor to wear his jersey and hopefully I can do him proud.”