The Cleveland Browns continue to chug along towards April's draft,. Make no mistake, they will be drafting a quarterback with that top pick. It's just a matter of who.
And if Josh Rosen's old college coach had his druthers, he would have the Browns take ... Sam Darnold?
Appearing on NFL Network's "Path to the Draft," Jim Mora, Jr., who coached Rosen at UCLA, said he believes that Darnold, who played football at USC (a rival of UCLA if you haven't heard), is a better fit than Rosen in Cleveland because of his "blue collar" approach to the game.
"Because of fit, I would take Sam Darnold if I was the Cleveland Browns. I think that blue collar, gritty attitude. I think his teammates will love him, I think the city will love him," Mora said. "He'll say the right things, he'll come in and represent well. I think he kind of represents what Cleveland is. And if I was one of the New York teams, I'd take Josh like [snaps fingers] that. I think they're both going to be great pros."
Appreciate the honesty here, but, sheesh, coach. This is like last year when Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly was asked about DeShone Kizer and, instead of heaping praise on his old quarterback, complained Kizer left school too soon.
Buried in that quote is Mora saying both will be "great pros." And he went out of his way to say that Rosen would be a good fit with one of the New York teams, so it's not like he's advocating for the young man to plummet in the draft.
The Giants hold the No. 2 overall pick and the Jets now own the No. 3 overall pick after.
So Mora is saying Rosen both deserves to be a top pick and that he can be a franchise quarterback.
But it is also either very revealing about Rosen, in that he wouldn't be a good fit with the Browns franchise and the Browns city, from the perspective of the coach who knows him better than anyone else, or it's Mora just doing Rosen a solid and trying to keep him from landing with the Browns.
"I think Sam's a really good fit for the Cleveland Browns," Mora said. "I think this is a guy that has mobility, he's gritty, he's tough, he's always had a little bit of an underdog mentality, as opposed to Josh who's kind of, as they say, the chosen one throughout his life."
Asked very specifically by NFL Network's Dan Hellie who will be a better pro between Rosen and Darnold, Mora flat-out hedged and said both would be great.
"They're both going to be great. I think that someday, hopefully, we're talking about the Peyton Manning-Tom Brady debate. Which one is better. I think both of those guys can be those type of guys. I really do."
If he's working purely as an analyst, it would be bananas to get Rosen's back regardless of what he really believes. But if I'm an NFL team, this is a massive red flag, to have a quarterback's college coach bumping him behind another prospect from a rival school because he's not "gritty" enough.
The good news for Rosen here is that Hue Jackson apparently doesn't feel the same way. Or at least was willing to not throw Rosen under the bus when speaking at the NFL Annual Meeting during the coaches' breakfast.
Jackson, via Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com, said that Rosen was "outstanding" and that the quarterback dispelled the notion he didn't want to play in Cleveland.
"He was outstanding," Jackson said. "Again, people made the statement that he didn't want to [come to Cleveland) and we didn't get that feeling at all. I think he'd love to be in Cleveland, love to play here. I think he has an appreciation for our staff and what we're trying to accomplish, and I feel good about all of those guys from a personality standpoint."
Unfortunately for Rosen, his old head coach doesn't have the same sensibilty to prop him up publicly. The Browns probably are not taking Rosen No. 1. By all accounts it's coming down to Darnold versus Josh Allen with the top pick.
But it sure would be fun to see Rosen get taken just for the blue-collar firework discussion that would happen.