Over and over, it was the one term that was linked to Josh Rosen prior to April’s draft.
The most NFL-ready of all the incoming rookie quarterbacks.
What that means in terms of Rosen’s actual ability to perform once he is on the field is unknown. Even he wasn’t sure Thursday how he’d define it.
“I don’t know,” Rosen said after the day’s OTA. “I just want to be the best quarterback in the NFL, regardless of when I am ready now or later or whenever. So it’s not really my decision to make.”
As the Cardinals wind down their final week of OTAs and ready for mandatory minicamp next week before the veterans scatter for the summer, Rosen’s pre-training camp on-field work is nearly at an end. Rosen notes the only way to improve is to play, and “the only way to get those reps is to take reps.”
Earlier this week, coach Steve Wilks said the Cardinals hoped to get starter Sam Bradford more work in minicamp, which likely means paring some reps back for the first-round rookie. Wilks has consistently praised Rosen’s intelligence and ability to pick up the playbook, although there are obviously areas in which to get better.
One of those, Wilks said, was Rosen’s decision-making at times, in particular the red zone. With points already available there with a field goal, Rosen needs to be judicious with risk.
“Sometimes, your greatest strength can be your greatest weakness,” Wilks said. “You try to force things in occasionally when we really just need to take what the defense gives us.”
Rosen’s focus is showing consistency, whether it is on the field or in the locker room. When Wilks’ critique is told to him, Rosen agreed.
“That’s situational football and that’s what veterans are really good at,” Rosen said. “Rookies learn that through experience.”
While he was called the most NFL-ready, Rosen wasn’t seen as the most mobile of the top rookie QBs. But Wilks said Rosen has proven to be “pretty athletic,” mobile enough to buy time in the pocket and – perhaps most importantly – shown an ability to keep his eyes down the field looking for receivers when he is on the move.
Wilks also has been pleased with Rosen’s desire to improve, constantly working with quarterbacks coach Byron Leftwich and leaning on veterans Bradford and Mike Glennon.
“(Josh) is a student of the game,” Wilks said.
Rosen smartly doesn’t make any grand proclamations. Being the most NFL-ready among the rookies doesn’t get him a pass to regular-season playing time, especially when there is someone proven like Bradford ahead of him in line.
Rosen is also intelligent enough to know he can only be tested so much in the offseason, when the game isn’t like the football played in September.”
“It’s not about making huge strides about my success day to day,” Rosen said. “It’s my success over the course of a couple of weeks and staying on an upward trend. Trying to take as few steps back as possible.”
There are moments though, like a pass Wilks mentioned – a pretty seam pass dropped nicely over the linebackers and in front of defensive backs to tight end Gabe Holmes on Thursday. It looked like an NFL throw.
“I’m just going to play as best as I can, and Sam is going to play as best as he can,” Rosen said of any potential quarterback battle.
“Competition is fun,” he added. “That’s why we play the sport.”
Images from the penultimate OTA of the Cardinals' 2018 offseason.