With the persistent rumors that the Cardinals are looking to draft Kyler Murray first overall and shop Josh Rosen, I thought it was time to reach out to Ryan Michael. In case you missed it, we spoke recently about the Joe Flacco trade. Ryan is an NFL analyst, QB statistician and someone who studies the position extensively.
Our interview is lightly edited for clarity.
1st and 10:
Joe: If the 2018 and 2019 classes came out together, how would you rank them?
Ryan: Prior to the 2018 NFL Draft, I ranked the quarterback class as follows: 1. Rosen, 2. Darnold, 3. Mayfield, 4. Allen, 5. Jackson and 6. Rudolph. Placing them in that same order, then plugging in four of the prospects from the upcoming 2019 NFL Draft gave me this list.
1. Josh Rosen
2. Sam Darnold
3. Baker Mayfield
4. Dwayne Haskins
5. Kyler Murray
6. Josh Allen
7. Drew Lock
8. Lamar Jackson
9. Daniel Jones
10. Mason Rudolph
I could very easily see me adjusting the order above after I take time this offseason to watch more tape of the 2019 prospects. Knowing what we know now, it’s obviously tempting to push Mayfield to the top. But I have to rank them as prospects, not by 2018 NFL performance. With Mayfield/Rosen, one set the rookie single-season record for touchdown passes (27) and the other finished dead-last in both passer rating (66.7) and Total QBR (25.9).
I’ve learned not to overreact to small sample-sizes. Although Mayfield finished 2018 trending upward and Rosen, statistically at least, finished 2018 trending downward, we’re only finished with Chapter 1.
2nd and 7:
Joe: I know I was higher on both Baker Mayfield and Josh Rosen than any of the other rookie quarterback’s available in 2018. You and I’ve previously discussed Rosen. After a year with the Cardinals, how do you believe his game has translated so far to the NFL? What could he potentially bring to the Broncos?
Ryan: At UCLA, I thought of Rosen as a poor-man’s Peyton Manning (a compliment) who played too much hero ball, exposing his thin frame to too many hits. He was the best “pure passing” prospect I had seen since Manning came out of Tennessee, but at age 21, bereft of a world-class college coaching experience, Rosen needed the proper setting to showcase his skill set.
What he got was the worst-coached offensive unit I’ve seen this decade, playing behind the weakest offensive line in the NFL. You couldn’t have asked for a worse combination.
“Flashes of Fitzgerald” were not equivalent to the legend “Larry Fitzgerald” and David Johnson wasn’t properly utilized. Arizona’s 31st ranked rushing DVOA (-21.4%) did Rosen no favors and the end result shouldn’t have surprised anyone. Has his game translated well to the NFL so far? No. But he never really had the opportunity to show-case “his” game.
The Broncos are a team in desperate need of a quarterback to cover up weaknesses in the passing game. Is Flacco that guy? Unlikely. Could Rosen be that guy? Hypothetically, yes. But with another defensive-minded head coach and another rookie offensive coordinator, Denver is not the best paper-fit to compliment Rosen’s strengths.
Similarities between #PeytonManning and #Cardinals QB #JoshRosen:— Ryan Michael (@theryanmichael) July 11, 2018
6-5, 230 lb = Manning
6-4, 226 lb = Rosen#NCAA Debut
9/3/94 @ #RoseBowl = Manning
9/5/15 @ #RoseBowl = Rosen
Jim Mora Sr. = Manning
Jim Mora Jr. = Rosen
Video via @theryanmichael pic.twitter.com/amNR6NyuWi
Joe: Every sign is that Rich Scangarello, Denver’s new OC, wants to run a Kyle Shanahan-esque scheme. Do you think Rosen could fit into that style of offense?
Ryan: To me, there’s a very big difference between running what Shanahan ran in 2016, with an elite quarterback in Matt Ryan performing at the peak of his power, complemented with a strong set of skill position players and running a Shanahan-esque scheme as a rookie OC. Rosen was compared to Ryan prior to being drafted, so paring him with a scheme previously tailored around a similar-style quarterback could work.
3rd and 3:
Joe: Obviously the Cardinals were a bit of a mess last year. I’ve seen some write off Rosen for that reason, but when I’ve now re-watched the Thursday Night game multiple times. I had a hard time seeing it. That isn’t to say the sophomore QB comes without his warts. What weaknesses do you think he’ll have going forward as a professional passer?
Ryan: As I had mentioned prior to the 2018 season, Rosen has to temper his instincts to play hero ball. He’ll hit a few home runs, but the turnovers are likely to exceed the touchdowns and that’s not a combination that dysfunctional teams can absorb.
If the Arizona #Cardinals want to be successful:— Ryan Michael (@theryanmichael) July 1, 2018
1. #JoshRosen needs to get the ball out quicker, consistently.
2. The #Cardinals need to learn how to block (ranked 31st by PFF in 2017). pic.twitter.com/xjkdDiveNK
Rosen’s football I.Q. and passing ability stuck on the 2018 Cardinals was akin to seeing Carlos Santana play guitar under water. He had his fair share of “wow” throws, but he also had a lot of misfires within an offensive system that lacked creativity and direction.
At this stage, Rosen needs to step back into the box and pray that he’s blessed with an offensive-coordinator who prefers to keep his punter’s foot fresh.
He’s yet to develop that Manning-like ability to hit receivers between the numbers even when they’re running weak routes or worse, the wrong routes. Every quarterback benefits from their receivers being where they’re supposed to be, but at this point, Rosen needs for that to happen more consistently.
Joe: Do you think he’s worth at least a 3rd round pick?
Broncos 2nd/3rd-round picks under Elway... How many would you *not* trade for Josh Rosen straight up?— Ryan Koenigsberg (@RyanKoenigsberg) March 7, 2019
Ryan: I think he’s worth a 1st round pick. Had Rosen stayed at UCLA one more season, he might be in the discussion for being the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft. 2018 was ugly, but it was also NFL-level experience.
A 3rd round pick? What is his stock at, the level of Mason Rudolph or Davis Webb? Listen, Rosen could very well end up being a bust. There are more busts out there than there are franchise quarterbacks. But if there’s any truth to his rumored asking price, I’d make a trade-offer right now.
4th and 1:
Joe: Me too, I’d trade for Rosen in a heartbeat, especially at the rumored cost. I have a hard time seeing Elway do it though.
If Elway wanted to throw the doubters on their heads, he'd steal Rosen away from the Cards for a third. Low risk high reward move and if it doesn't pan out, #Broncos probably have a backup for cheap in 2020 and '21. https://t.co/l3FABqXdqD— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) March 8, 2019
Do you think the Broncos should trade for Josh Rosen? Why?
Ryan: They should but I don’t think they will. Elway’s history of selecting non-Manning quarterbacks has been awful. How would he handle a bold personality like Rosen? Still, it’s fair to note that Rosen has been extremely supportive of a Cardinals organization that didn’t give him much support on the field.
Joe: If it isn’t Denver, what do you think Rosen’s likeliest destination is if Arizona deals him? Where would he best fit?
Ryan: In no particular order: Cincinnati, Miami, Denver, New York (Giants) and Washington could all use better starting quarterbacks in 2018. If Washington thinks Keenum is the long-term answer, there isn’t much for me to say.
New England and New Orleans need to prepare for the future, even if they’re convinced they don’t yet. I think the best fit for Rosen would be with the Patriots. They’re the best-coached, best-structured team in the league.
Tom Brady doesn’t owe any young quarterback anything as far as mentoring, but I think shadowing Brady would benefit Rosen tremendously. If he spent all of 2019 and 2020 on the bench, he’d enter 2021 at age 24, the same age Russell Wilson was as a rookie in 2012. New England has three picks in the first two rounds, so they do have the stock to make it happen.