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Draft Drop Fuels Josh Rosen

Posted Apr 26, 2018

UCLA product motivated after three quarterbacks chosen above him

Josh Rosen slaps hands with the Cardinals' fan contingent at the NFL draft.

ARLINGTON, Texas – The glitz and glamour, the talking heads, the lights and the screaming fans dominated the senses Thursday night, a scene that enveloped Josh Rosen as he walked across the stage to shake the hand of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

But 20 minutes later he was in a bland hallway in a forgotten area of AT&T Stadium, standing on dark blue carpet and leaning quietly against a white, non-descript wall. Rosen, the UCLA quarterback, was waiting because another draft pick occupied the room he needed for media duties after becoming the No. 10 overall pick in the NFL draft by the Cardinals.

While most players would have been thrilled to be in Rosen’s position, exasperation lingered on his face, and what came next probably didn’t help.

The player in front of Rosen, the one who popped out of the room a few moments later, was Josh Allen, the Wyoming quarterback who went No. 7 overall to the Bills. As the prospects embraced, Allen pointed out that Rosen received the favorable weather draw, and Rosen genuinely wished Allen luck with his career.

But it wasn’t lost on Rosen that this was one of the three signal-callers that NFL teams deemed more worthy of their top-10 pick. While Rosen said he has no ill will toward Allen or the other two – Baker Mayfield and Sam Darnold – the bitingly blunt quarterback wasn’t going to act like everything was peachy.

“I was pissed off the second I got passed on at 1, 2 and 3,” Rosen said.

The emotions boiled as other players went before him. After the 49ers chose offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey with the No. 9 overall pick, Rosen received a reassuring text. It was Green Bay superstar Aaron Rodgers -- another honest, talented quarterback who dealt with a draft drop, much longer than Rosen’s -- imploring Rosen to keep his cool.

“Aaron literally texted me right before the pick,” Rosen said. “He said, ‘Hold on, brother.’ I told him I got him.”

And then, finally, the end of the slide. The Cardinals gave up their first-round selection, a third and a fifth in this year’s draft to move up five spots and nab Rosen. As Rosen was handed the cell phone that relayed to him the fateful decision – his own phone didn’t ring so Cardinals General Manager Steve Keim had to call his agent, Ryan Williams – a different emotion surfaced.

“I thought I was going to be pissed off when I got picked, but for some reason, I just got overflowed with motivation and a want to get on the field,” Rosen said. “There really is no other emotion going on in my head right now other than just motivation. I just want to get to the facility. If the plane would leave tonight, I’d get on the plane and go.”

Rosen is expected to wear No. 3 with the Cardinals, which is the number of quarterbacks chosen before him in the draft. He is different from other NFL players, willing to wear his emotions on his sleeve.

“Now I can say what I really want to say,” Rosen said. “The last three years have been too controlled.”

Rosen waited a beat and said he was kidding, but there was no smile on his face. He was asked if he believed his personality contributed to his slotting as the fourth quarterback.

“I don’t know,” Rosen said. “Maybe. There were just a lot of different things going on. But to be honest, I’m actually glad I dropped. I think I may have taken it for granted if I got picked really high. I’m not a religious guy, but I think everything happens for a reason.”

Cardinals coach Steve Wilks isn’t concerned about Rosen’s individuality.

“I’ve coached a lot of different personalities,” Wilks said. “To make a difference you have to be different. I love his personality.”

Despite the initial disappointment, Rosen is excited about the situation he will be joining. He showed an impressive recall of the Cardinals’ personnel despite joining the team within the hour.

“I think they’re seriously underrated,” Rosen said. “They have an unbelievable running back (David Johnson) who got hurt all last year. People forgot his name for some reason. They’ve got a veteran quarterback (Sam Bradford) who I’m really excited to get in a competition with. They’ve got one of the best receivers (Larry Fitzgerald) to ever play the game. A solid defense. I think it’s a really, really good situation.”

Rosen is happy to move beyond the draft process – “There aren’t many careers like it. It’s almost like a game-show atmosphere,” Rosen said – and back to proving it on the field.

“I just want to get back to ball,” Rosen said. “I just want to win Super Bowls.”

Rosen knew the Cardinals came close to winning Super Bowl XLIII against the Steelers, but confirmed with Williams that they have yet to get over that hump. When asked if it would be fun to lead the Cardinals to their first Super Bowl, his eyes darted up to meet those of a reporter.

“Hell. Yeah.” Rosen said.

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