- Former UCLA football coach Jim Mora surprised the football world by saying he would draft USC quarterback Sam Darnold over UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen.
- In a follow-up interview, Mora said while Rosen is gifted, he also said he’s a “millennial” who needs to be “challenged intellectually.”
- Some in the football world wondered why that should be considered a critique against Rosen.
Former UCLA football coach Jim Mora caught the football world by surprise last week when he said he would take USC quarterback Sam Darnold over his former quarterback Josh Rosen in the 2018 NFL draft.
Mora said he believed Darnold had the right attitude to be the No. 1 pick for the Cleveland Browns.
Sports Illustrated’s Peter King followed up with Mora, who was fired by UCLA in November and asked him to explain his stance on Darnold vs. Rosen. Mora said he thinks Rosen is the most talented quarterback in the draft but said Rosen needs to be challenged because he is a millennial.
“He needs to be challenged intellectually, so he doesn’t get bored,” Mora said. “He’s a millennial. He wants to know why. Millennials, once they know why, they’re good. Josh has a lot of interests in life. If you can hold his concentration level and focus only on football for a few years, he will set the world on fire. He has so much ability, and he’s a really good kid.”
Mora also said Rosen could be a “franchise-changer” and that he is sharp at diagnosing the game.
“He’s a franchise-changer. He’s got the ability to have an immediate impact. His arm talent, intelligence, and his ability to see the game and diagnose the game is rare. He’d come to the sidelines after a play, and it was uncanny – he could right away say exactly why he made every decision.”
Given the way Mora glowed about Rosen’s intelligence and ability, many in the NFL wondered why his curiosity and outside interests should be viewed as a negative.
I mean, what the hell does someone being a millennial have anything to do with football?
— mike freeman (@mikefreemanNFL) April 2, 2018
When Jim Mora said Josh Rosen is really smart and needs to be challenged every day or he’ll get bored, that improved his draft stock in my book.
Give me a player who wants to be challenged and doesn’t get overwhelmed with basic XOs.
I like this kid more and more. @josh3rosen
— Sage Rosenfels (@SageRosenfels18) April 2, 2018
Would love to know how this is a “millennials” thing when Patriots OC Josh McDaniels essentially told @AlbertBreer the same thing about Tom Brady. If coaches are afraid of being challenged intellectually it says more about them than the player. https://t.co/5FiewBzFFu
— Jim Trotter (@JimTrotter_NFL) April 2, 2018
Rosen’s off-field interests have been a topic of discussion throughout the draft process. Teams sometimes shy away from players with overt political opinions (Rosen once wore an anti-President Donald Trump hat) or players who are passionate about things other than football.
Some also wonder if Mora has other agendas in offering his analysis on Rosen. King noted that Mora could be trying to prove his value as an analyst in his post-coaching career. Some also wonder if Mora is trying to help Rosen avoid being drafted by the Browns, a team some feel could hurt a prospect’s development.
With nearly two months until the draft, Rosen’s stock will be worth monitoring. Most experts feel he could be the most talented quarterback in the draft but rarely is he considered the top prospect.