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Cardinals Draft Their Quarterback: Josh Rosen

Posted Apr 26, 2018

Team trades up with Raiders to get future signal-caller

The Cardinals selected quarterback Josh Rosen (right, with commissioner Roger Goodell) with their first-round pick Thursday night.

The draft board, with a few surprises, fell exactly how the Cardinals needed it to fall.

And with Josh Rosen falling himself, it provided General Manager Steve Keim with the perfect window to finally achieve the goal he had set for himself since the day he was named GM in 2013 – to find a long-term quarterback for his franchise.

Rosen was picked 10th – coincidentally, the same slot the Cardinals used the last time they selected a first-round quarterback, Matt Leinart in 2006 – after Keim traded up with the Oakland Raiders from the Cards’ original position at No. 15.

Keim admitted there was “some credence” to the idea he and the Cardinals were aware of letting a couple of teams to trade in front of them in 2017 to draft Deshaun Watson and Pat Mahomes. But the Cards still had to believe in moving for a player they believed in – and Rosen is that guy, even if he still has to prove it on the NFL level.

“We really believed he was a franchise-type quarterback,” Keim said. “To me, when you find those type of guys, and when you give up that kind of compensation, you pull the trigger and never look back.”

The price for Keim couldn’t have been better. The Cards surrendered their original third-round pick (79th) overall, although they still have a compensatory third-round pick, and their fifth-round pick. Left intact was the Cardinals’ second-rounder and their 2019 first-rounder, at least one of which seemed to be a probable cost in trade-up estimates going into the draft.

“The grades supported (the trade) and it was a guy we liked enough,” Keim said. “At the same time … it wasn’t mortgaging the future. To give up what we did, we were extremely comfortable with it.”

[READ: JOSH ROSEN DRAFT AFTERMATH]

Ultimately, four quarterbacks went in the top 10 picks. Baker Mayfield went first to Cleveland. Sam Darnold went third to the Jets. Then Buffalo traded up from 12 to seven to select Josh Allen. But when the Bears and 49ers kept their picks to take linebacker Roquan Smith and tackle Mike McGlinchey, respectively, the window to trade up for Rosen was wide open.

“I thought I should’ve been picked one, two or three,” Rosen said on a conference call with Arizona media. “I was pissed. I was really, really angry.

“(Then) I got the call and I got really happy, and really motivated. All I wanted to do was get on a plane right then and go straight to Arizona and start working.”

Coach Steve Wilks called Rosen the “best passer in the draft.” Sam Bradford was signed as a free agent to start this season, but Wilks left the door cracked that Rosen could end up on the field at some point.

“The best 11 guys will play,” Wilks said. “When we acquired Sam, we got him to be our starting quarterback and I’d say that is still the case. When Sam is healthy, he’s one of the best we’ve seen around. … When we line up against Washington the opening game of the season, the best 11 guys are going to play.”

Rosen said he’d like to play, but he is mindful of his rookie status and emphasized multiple times he is coming in to be part of a team.

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

Rosen did suffer a pair of concussions last season and sat out UCLA’s bowl game because of them, but Keim said the team vetted his injury history and added, “you can’t forecast injuries.”

“I’ve seen guys banged up in college and in the NFL they’ve never had an injury, and vice versa – and we’ve had a few of them here,” Keim said.

The 6-foot-4, 226-pound Rosen completed more than 60 percent of his passes as a three-year starter, with 26 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in his 11-game final season. He has a reputation for being outspoken and intelligent, which in some pre-draft reporting was used as a criticism of Rosen.

Wilks said he loves Rosen’s personality, touting Rosen’s “command of the room.”

“When you look at that position, you want a guy who has that leadership skill,” Wilks said.

And Keim doesn’t have to worry about finding that young QB prospect anymore.

“We just knew our board was set up in a way we had to trust it,” Keim said. “If we saw an opportunity, we had to strike.”

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