Josh Rosen says he loves football — and we love the UCLA passer's display of offensive knowledge

Rosen won over analytics crowd with heady response on the value of going through progressions

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Josh Rosen — USA Today Sports Image

INDIANAPOLIS — Josh Rosen was 6-5 in his final season at UCLA, but he'd likely go undefeated if stats were kept on which quarterbacks win and lose their press conferences at the scouting combine.

Rosen, the former Bruin lightning rod QB with sterling passing mechanics and questionable intangibles in the eyes of some, strengthened the notion that he's the most pro-ready quarterback in this class on Friday while doing everything in his power to answer some evaluators' questions regarding his sense of entitlement and lacking leadership qualities and love of football.

"I love football with all of my heart and soul, and if I didn’t, I just don't think I’d have been able to make it through the grind of college," he said.

Rosen was asked about an ESPN report indicating he didn't want to play for the Cleveland Browns, who own the first and fourth overall picks and the NFL's longest streak of QB instability. Rosen won't deny that he's opinionated — Google "Josh Rosen and NCAA hypocrisy" — but he says he's never been to Cleveland, nor met with the coaching staff, so it'd be impossible for him to formulate an opinion on whether or not he'd like to play there.

"The NFL is a very daunting organization," he said. "Every team you go to has its own unique set of challenges, and the Browns have a unique set of their own challenges. So wherever I end up, I’m excited to take on those challenges and hopefully overcome some obstacles."

The way Rosen sees the field, and the game overall, is what should leave many fans and clubs in need of a potential franchise QB so excited after listening to him discuss his greatest on-field attribute.

"I think I make very quick decisions," Rosen said. "I’m very quick and decisive. I always say that I think if you can [get] three or four reads into your progression, you give yourself more opportunities to get the ball down the field. If you’re a 1-2 and run guy, and you, say, throw the ball 40 times a game — NFL, 30 times a game — you’re giving yourself 70-80 opportunities to get the ball down the field.

"If you can get into 1-2-3 and 4, then you’re giving yourself 150-160 — twice as many opportunities — to actually push the ball down the field. So that’s where I think my best attribute is — I can sit in the pocket and really pick defenses apart."

That's an advanced response sure to excite NFL clubs that value analytics more than others. Rosen says his accuracy and processing speed is what "absolutely" makes him the best player — not just quarterback — in this year's draft. He doesn't come without on-field questions, including those regarding the durability of a player who had right shoulder surgery in 2016 and suffered a pair of concussions last season.

But his size (6-foot-4, 218) arm talent, offensive knowledge and tidy mechanics all place him in the conversation to be the first quarterback drafted in April.

Rosen completed 62.6 percent of his throws as a junior in 2017, tossing 26 touchdowns against 10 picks on a talent-deficient Bruins team that often required him to play from behind. Yet, as a former five-star recruit, the California native didn't always meet those lofty expectations on the field, and there have been rumblings that he wasn't the most popular player in his locker room.

That's odd considering Rosen said Friday that the team aspect of the game is what drew him away from tennis, where he was nationally ranked in middle school, and toward football. He said that he views leadership as "a very personal thing that there aren’t any shortcuts to. It takes time. You have to build relationships."

Rosen's former center Scott Quessenberry went to bat for his quarterback at the Senior Bowl and doubled down in Indianapolis this week in conveying how adamantly he disagreed with outsiders' assessments of Rosen's personality and leadership.

"For him to get the rap that he gets, it's BS because of the type of guy that he is and the type of stand-up human being that he is and the type of pro that he's going to be. ... It drives me crazy, I can only imagine what it's like for him," Quessenberry said.

For his part, Rosen said it'll only bother him if teams come away from the combine unconvinced that football is his ultimate passion.

"If teams still question my love for the game after this weekend, after they really got to know me, then it might bother my a little bit more," Rosen said of the critics who question his football passion. "But I think that coaches can really see what I care about."