As the pre-draft process went on, UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen seemed to get more agitated. He didn’t seem too interested on Thursday night in smiling and doing the typical post-pick interview with NFL Network.
It turned out, he was seething before the Arizona Cardinals picked him with the 10th pick. He watched as Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold and Josh Allen were picked before him, and he wasn’t happy about it.
“I was angry. I was really angry,” Rosen said in an interview with Westwood One Sports. “One, two and three went through, and I was really pissed off. But for some reason, the second I got that call, all of that went away and motivation stepped in.
“They made nine mistakes ahead of me, and I couldn’t be more excited to prove them all wrong.”
That “nine mistakes” comment is going to follow Rosen around for a while. And that’s not a bad thing.
Rosen’s attitude bothered some people, and that was one reason he was picked apart in the pre-draft process. It wouldn’t be a surprise if he found all the nitpicking to be unfair, because in many ways it was. That’s why Rosen had a fun answer to a question from veteran NFL reporter Ed Werder on Westwood One Sports.
“What do you think is the biggest misconception that there is out there about you?” Werder asked.
“That … ” Rosen started, then he paused and laughed, “… that Baker, Josh and Sam are better than me.”
That’s all great for entertainment, as it was when Rosen started name-checking all the players who were ranked higher than him when he was recruited out of high school. But there’s a benefit to that too. Rosen having heightened motivation to prove everyone wrong can’t be a bad thing. Not that he wouldn’t have been working hard if he was the first pick, but having a little edge has helped plenty of athletes.
“They’re getting a very, very, very, very hungry quarterback who is going to come in and be a very positive influence in the locker room and on the field,” Rosen said in the radio interview.
It’s a perfect fit between team and player. The Cardinals desperately needed a quarterback after Carson Palmer retired, and didn’t have any obvious path to get one. They overpaid for Sam Bradford, but we all know how that will ultimately work out. Bradford can’t stay healthy and is rarely great when he does play. At times in the draft process it looked like the Cardinals, with the 15th overall pick, would be shut out of a prospect like Rosen because it seemed he’d go in the top five. Then he slipped a bit. The price the Cardinals paid to move up — a third- and fifth- round pick to go from Nos. 15 to 10 — was very reasonable. They somehow got a very good quarterback prospect and didn’t have to mortgage the future for him.
And the Cardinals get a quarterback in Rosen who has revenge on his mind. That doesn’t mean he’ll be a success, but he is focused. Rosen to the Cardinals seemed unlikely before the draft started, but it seems like a winning combination now.
Here are the rest of the winners and losers from the first round of the NFL draft.
Matt Ryan: The Atlanta Falcons didn’t have a big need at receiver, but they weren’t going to pass up arguably the best one in the class at No. 26.
Calvin Ridley of Alabama fell to Atlanta, two picks after D.J. Moore was the first receiver taken. And the Falcons, who two years ago had one of the highest-scoring offenses in NFL history, has yet another weapon for Ryan.
Ridley joins Julio Jones, Mohamed Sanu and the dual running back threat of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman to give Ryan a ton of options. There’s a question if offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian can do his part, but he has a lot to work with.
The best a team can hope for in the draft is to get good value with each pick, and getting Ridley late in the first round seems like great value for the Falcons.
Brian Gutekunst: His first draft as general manager of the Green Bay Packers went pretty well.
At No. 14, the Packers took the New Orleans Saints’ fairly ridiculous offer to move up from No. 27, giving Green Bay a 2019 first-round pick and a fifth-rounder this weekend. Then the Packers moved No. 27, a third-round pick and a sixth-round pick to Seattle for No. 18 and a seventh-round pick. At No. 18, the Packers took cornerback Jaire Alexander, filling a huge need. Alexander is a player the Packers could have taken at No. 14 without surprising too many. And they picked up an extra first-round pick by trading back.
Green Bay has been more aggressive with Gutekunst. He was masterful in the first round on Thursday.
Oakland Raiders: The Raiders’ offseason has been confusing at times, but Thursday made a lot of sense. The Raiders got a young and dangerous receiver, practically for free.
Oakland moved back from No. 10 to 15 in a trade with Arizona. It got a third-round pick and a fifth-round pick in the deal. The Raiders then drafted offensive tackle Kolton Miller, who they presumably would have picked at No. 10 had they stayed put, and sent the third-round pick to the Pittsburgh Steelers for receiver Martavis Bryant.
Bryant has his issues, and is unreliable after various suspensions, but he’s a game-breaking receiver when he’s not in trouble. It’s worth the risk, especially since Bryant is only 26 years old.
Maybe Miller and Bryant won’t work out because there are questions on both of them. But the Raiders came out of Thursday night looking sharp. And they better be, because within the AFC West, the Denver Broncos (Bradley Chubb) and Los Angeles Chargers (Derwin James) made two of the best picks of the first round.
Joe Flacco: Every year, players practically lose their jobs as teams select their replacements in the first round of the draft. It might be Shane Ray being pushed out in Denver by Bradley Chubb, or Paul Perkins becoming an afterthought with the New York Giants now that they have Saquon Barkley.
The most dramatic example Thursday was Flacco. All of a sudden, the Baltimore Ravens quarterback’s clock is ticking with the team’s addition of Lamar Jackson with the last pick of the first round.
Flacco hasn’t played that well for a few years, though that’s not all his fault. He hasn’t had much talent around him. But with a famously enormous contract and not much production, it was time for the Ravens to consider the future. They couldn’t have found a more different quarterback to replace Flacco than the athletic Jackson.
Once a team takes a quarterback in the first round, the question about when he’ll play is constantly asked. Since 2006, the year after Aaron Rodgers was picked by the Green Bay Packers, only two first-round quarterbacks (Jake Locker and Brady Quinn) didn’t start at least one game as a rookie. It will be a difficult situation for Ravens coach John Harbaugh to manage. But the clock started with the final pick of the first round Thursday night.
This year’s receiver class: The NFL is a passing league, and there’s an increased value on receivers and cornerbacks. We knew the receiver and cornerback classes this year weren’t great, and only two receivers made their way into the first round.
The Dallas Cowboys, who desperately need receiver help, passed on every one at No. 19 to take linebacker Leighton Vander Esch. The Carolina Panthers, at No. 24, finally took a receiver. They grabbed D.J. Moore. Calvin Ridley, thought by many to be the top receiver in the class, went to the Atlanta Falcons a couple picks later.
Since the 2014 receiver draft class, which might have been the best ever, there haven’t been many great receivers to come out of the draft. That might create a heck of a shortage in a few years. This draft could produce a few good wideouts, but the league clearly isn’t high on them.
Derrius Guice: The LSU star was considered the second-best running back in this year’s class by many. He’ll be no better than the fourth back picked.
In a surprise, Guice wasn’t picked in the first round. That seemed feasible if the league decided to pass on running backs because there would be value at the position later on. But it was strange when two other head-scratching RB picks were made. The Seattle Seahawks took Rashaad Penny of San Diego State, and while Penny is a good and very productive back, that was a stunner. Then the New England Patriots selected Sony Michel 31st overall. It’s not that Michel wasn’t a borderline first-round talent, it’s that the Patriots almost never invest like that at running back. But they did for Michel.
That left Guice out of the first-round mix. It’s curious he wasn’t picked a day after the NFL said it found no evidence to Guice’s claim he was asked inappropriate questions at the scouting combine by an unnamed team. Guice will probably be picked early Friday, but he — along with other top prospects like defensive end Harold Landry, cornerback Josh Jackson, offensive lineman Connor Williams and receiver Courtland Sutton — had to be disappointed at the end of Thursday night.
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