How each rookie NFL quarterback has fared halfway through 2018 season

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 07: Baker Mayfield #6 of the Cleveland Browns throws a pass in the first quarter against the Baltimore Ravens at FirstEnergy Stadium on October 7, 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 07: Baker Mayfield #6 of the Cleveland Browns throws a pass in the first quarter against the Baltimore Ravens at FirstEnergy Stadium on October 7, 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /
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Josh Rosen, Arizona Cardinals
GLENDALE, AZ – AUGUST 11: Quarterback Josh Rosen #3 of the Arizona Cardinals throws a pass during the preseason NFL game against the Los Angeles Chargers at University of Phoenix Stadium on August 11, 2018 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

Josh Rosen

What’s to like:

It stunned me that Josh Rosen fell to the 10th overall pick. A mature pocket passer with refined mechanics and fantastic understanding of defender leverage, Rosen’s had the most moments of any rookie that scream future star. That hasn’t been surprising to me.

Most impressive has been his anticipation and touch on intermediate throws. Rosen charted as the best intermediate passer in my collegiate prospect data for good reason, and it’s transferred relatively well thus far. He’s able to fit passes into spots over defenders while still allowing yards after the catch opportunities.

He recognizes zone weaknesses effectively and properly attacks man coverages that leave defenders on an island. Mentally, he is seeing the field well and understands both pre- and post-snap where his advantage is more often than not.

His eyes are always up regardless of impending hits, and his base continues to be tied to his eyes. It’s clear how much time he’s spent to refine his craft and repeat it in every situation. There’s no doubt that he looks the part and maximizes his time to throw.

Rosen’s fit both under center and in shotgun give him a unique early advantage over other rookies as well. He’s rarely panicked and overwhelmed in the pocket, even if he doesn’t necessarily always react to pressure well. His process will eventually lead to improved results.

His comfort going deep has also improved. Throwing to fringe NFL talents like J.J. Nelson and Chad Williams haven’t helped his completion percentage, but he’s laid some dimes beyond 20 yards, which was a major struggle at UCLA. He doesn’t need to become an elite deep passer to reach his potential, but it certainly helps grow the offense if his small sample continues.

Where to improve:

Though he looks the part, there’s still areas to clean up. He’s missed too many short passes wide, which seems to be tied to relying on his arm to quickly get rid of the ball. Like Jared Goff, he gets into trouble trying to compensate with a shortened release, but he can’t always physically execute.

His base can continue to be tweaked. Even when aligned, he’s missed some layups as he’s too spread. This happens to every quarterback but is something that can be a focal point this season. Short, powerful strides can be a minor adjustment that could benefit Rosen.

Denver’s shellacking of Arizona has thus far been a one-off showing, where Rosen was flustered throughout the night. One interception came via drop, and another when Nelson stopped running on a slant-flat combination route, but he took six sacks total. Not all of that is on the rookie when facing such a talented defense, but his struggles throwing interceptions to roaming linebackers looms.


Like Josh Allen, Josh Rosen was dealt a difficult situation for a rookie quarterback. Isolating his play amid dreadful offensive line play, drops from a limited receiving corps, an antiquated scheme that neutered David Johnson and led to an offensive coordinator change before the halfway point, have not been easy. His numbers aren’t fully representative of his play.

With Larry Fitzgerald healthy and Byron Leftwich now calling plays, it’s likely Rosen’s results will be moderately improved. His third-down play and ability to convert in the red zone are going to be key areas to watch for growth this year. Leftwich’s promotion led to some progress this past week already as he spread out defenses more than his predecessor did.

Unlike some of his peers, Rosen shouldn’t necessarily need an elite scheme or playmakers to flourish on his own. He’s more advanced than his peers and winning in traditional ways. As Christian Kirk continues to grow into his best role and the Cardinals reintegrate Johnson into the offense, Rosen will benefit.

They still need to protect him better and provide at least two new receiving threats after Fitzgerald retires. His willingness to test tight windows gives the Cardinals more leeway in terms of receiver archetypes to choose from.

He’s not necessarily “good” yet, but it’s clear he’s on his way in the next year or two. A Jared Goff-esque jump in that timeframe is very much possible if the Cardinals can surround him with more dependable pieces.