The Redskins are in the market for a quarterback. The Cardinals own the No. 1 pick in next month’s draft and might use it to select Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray, which would make Josh Rosen, the quarterback Arizona traded up to draft in the first round last year, expendable.
Rosen, who fell to No. 10 in the 2018 draft after being talked about as a potential No. 1 pick in the weeks beforehand, may not cost a potential trade partner a first-round pick. An NFL general manager and ex-Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner told NBC Sports columnist Peter King that the second-year pro’s value is a third-round selection. Former Redskins tight end Chris Cooley agrees and doesn’t want to see Washington part with much more to acquire the former UCLA star.
“The reason you can do a third is because he does have some upside, he has a year under his belt, and if a third doesn’t work, it’s acceptable,” Cooley said on this week’s “Cooley at the Park” podcast. “I can’t give up a second for a guy I’m unsure of.”
Cooley, who has since warmed to the idea of trading a second-round pick for Rosen, came away unsure of the quarterback after studying his film at UCLA and from his rookie year, during which he threw for 11 touchdowns with 14 interceptions. Cooley acknowledged the caveats required when evaluating Rosen’s performance last year, including the fact that Arizona’s offensive line was rated the worst in the league by Pro Football Focus. Rosen also worked under two offensive coordinators, including a first-time coordinator in Byron Leftwich, and he faced a stingier collection of pass defenses than his fellow rookie QBs.
Still, Cooley noted Rosen was sacked 45 times in 13 games, one more sack than the Redskins’ injury-riddled offensive line allowed all season. Even more concerning, Rosen fumbled 10 times.
“That’s absolutely, undeniably, unacceptable,” Cooley said. “Massive, massive concerns about protecting the ball. … Interceptions and throws into traffic and bad throws I can take in a quarterback’s first year. Go ask Peyton Manning [who threw 28 interceptions as a rookie]. The ball security stuff in the pocket, I can’t accept."
While Cooley said Rosen had double the number of bad plays as good plays as a rookie, he did some things well, such as avoiding and sensing pressure and making intermediate timing throws from the pocket. Cooley said Rosen appeared confident and did a good job trusting his receivers on 50-50 balls.
“It’s a tough league as a rookie; it is for every young quarterback, and it was for Josh Rosen. But I want to start with the understanding that a guy who made most of his throws in college and made a living throwing down the field doesn’t have that luxury in the NFL,” Cooley said. “You love that he has the ability to do it and the sense to do it, but you don’t love that that’s his only ability.”
Rosen has a big arm, but Cooley was unimpressed with his accuracy on short throws as a rookie.
“I watched four games of cut-ups and saw him incomplete nine screens at least,” Cooley said. “He can’t throw a screen. His underneath touch, he’s throwing picks on screens, trying to speed it up and throw it hard at a back, and the D-lineman’s intercepting him. He’s getting it batted on screens; he can’t change his arm angle to get it around a D-lineman. His sense on screens was horrendous."
Cooley also criticized Rosen’s accuracy, vision and decision-making outside of the pocket.
“His throws on the move, rhythm, timing, understanding of getting the ball out on the move — unbelievably awful,” said Cooley, who added that he came across at least 10 other throws by Rosen that should’ve been intercepted during his film study. “… He can’t throw on the move. He’s great under center; he’s great with a base under him. But he misses throws, and he’s late on throws all the time."
Given Cooley’s assessment of Rosen, one might be surprised that he would support the Redskins giving up assets to acquire him.
“The thing I like about Rosen is you don’t need to teach him to be a quarterback at all,” Cooley said on Kevin Sheehan’s podcast this week. “He is capable of doing NFL quarterback things, all the way from the snap to the point where the ball is released. You need to coach him up on understanding and seeing coverage better, which is not uncommon. I think you can teach a guy to read the field better. … He’s a guy you can build around.”
Rosen, who has three years remaining on his $17.5 million rookie contract, would also be a bargain relative to the quarterbacks the Redskins could acquire in free agency.
“If you could trade a second [for Rosen], that’s actually intriguing,” Cooley said Thursday during an interview with Doc Walker on The Team 980. “I think [Arizona will] get more than a third for him. I think the second is something I’d be willing to take a risk on.”
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