Josh Rosen has men­tor, new friend in Aaron Rodgers

USA TODAY Sports Weekly - - NEWS - Bob McMana­man Colum­nist The Ari­zona Repub­lic USA TO­DAY Net­work

Of all the fel­low quar­ter­backs who have men­tored Josh Rosen, the Car­di­nals’ new quar­ter­back of the fu­ture, one seems to have found a spe­cial place in his heart. It’s Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers, and you can tell his in­flu­ence has struck a pow­er­ful chord with the for­mer UCLA star.

Remember in 2014 when Rodgers fa­mously told a pan­icked Packers faith­ful to chill about Green Bay’s slow start that sea­son? “Five let­ters here for every­body out there in Packer-land: R-E-L-A-X,” Rodgers said.

Rodgers has been reach­ing out to Rosen for the past sev­eral weeks since they met dur­ing the pro­duc­tion of a tele­vi­sion pro­gram de­tail­ing the path to the NFL draft, and Rodgers might have of­fered Rosen sim­i­lar ad­vice af­ter the NFL draft’s first round.

The out­spo­ken Rosen, who slid to the 10th pick, didn’t pull any punches, ei­ther, say­ing, among other things, “Nine mis­takes were made ahead of me and I will make sure over the next decade or so that they made a mis­take.”

By the time Rosen met with re­porters dur­ing his in­tro­duc­tory news con­fer­ence the next day, he was as laid back and re­laxed as his new BFF, the af­fa­ble Rodgers, whom he likes to call “The Dude.”

“I was a lit­tle emo­tional last night,” Rosen ex­plained when asked about his post-draft com­ments. “I would ac­tu­ally say that I’m not as an­gry that there were nine guys ahead of me — just the three quar­ter­backs. That’s what kind of gets to me. So, there were three big mis­takes ahead of me.

“But hon­estly, it’s a bless­ing in dis­guise. This is an un­be­liev­able team that I think is re­ally, re­ally primed and set to do some in­cred­i­ble things in the fu­ture, and I think I just, very sim­ply, lucked out.”

Hav­ing a close con­fi­dant in a quar­ter­back the likes of Rodgers, a Su­per Bowl win­ner and two-time NFL MVP, could prove to be just as for­tu­itous for Rosen. In Rodgers, with whom he shares the same agents, he can glean in­for­ma­tion he can’t get from coaches. He’ll gain in­sight from a “dude” who has been in the pocket and has been there, done that.

The two are also some­what sim­i­lar. They are both from Cal­i­for­nia and have per­son­al­i­ties that some­times are mis­un­der­stood. They’re known for their lead­er­ship skills and their slick sense of hu­mor. Rodgers also knows a lit­tle some­thing about slid­ing in the first round of the draft; he wasn’t picked un­til the 24th over­all se­lec­tion in 2005.

Rosen, who be­came part of the first draft class in NFL his­tory to see four quar­ter­backs taken in the first 10 picks, has been re­ly­ing on Rodgers for all sorts of ad­vice. He’s picked up on tips on ev­ery­thing from how to sit and learn and bide his time as he waits for his chance to be­come a starter to how to make play­ing golf a reg­u­lar part of his rou­tine.

“Aaron has been un­be­liev­able,” Rosen said. “One of the rea­sons I ac­tu­ally picked the agency (Ath­letes First) is be­cause I looked up to him as a quar­ter­back. We got in­tro­duced be­cause he’s executive pro­duc­ing this TV show that we’re do­ing with our rookie class, Desti

na­tion Dal­las. It was re­ally cool, and he came down and men­tored me a bit.

“The re­la­tion­ship ac­tu­ally went a lot fur­ther than I thought it would ini­tially. I thought we were just kind of go­ing to hang out for the cam­eras a lit­tle bit and talk and try to make it look more than it was, but he has reached out to me a lot. He’s been awe­some. I look up to him as a player, and I think the way he con­ducts him­self on and off the field is very ad­mirable.”

Lis­ten­ing to Car­di­nals gen­eral man­ager Steve Keim, Rosen pos­sesses Rodgers’ main traits.

“The three things to me that re­ally stood out was foot­ball acu­men, his abil­ity to process in­for­ma­tion, his foot­ball IQ,” Keim said. “Sec­ondly, was his pas­sion for the game, which is so im­por­tant for that po­si­tion. Then thirdly, to me, was his nat­u­ral lead­er­ship skills, his abil­ity to put the team on his back and to have guys fight for him.”

Ac­cord­ing to Stan­ford foot­ball coach David Shaw, when it comes to stand­ing in the pocket and throw­ing the ball di­rectly to a re­ceiver, Rosen is “the best guy to come out since An­drew Luck.”

An­other men­tor, for­mer NFL quar­ter­back Trent Dil­fer, made an even more in­ter­est­ing com­par­i­son while dis­cussing the Car­di­nals’ pick of Rosen to the team’s flag­ship ra­dio sta­tion, Ari­zona Sports 98.7.

“I think you’re look­ing at kind of the next Aaron Rodger­stype player in the NFL,” Dil­fer pre­dicted. “He’s that kind of tal­ent.”

Car­di­nals of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Mike McCoy said Rosen is good enough right now to plug in and play if Ari­zona didn’t have Sam Brad­ford and Mike Glen­non in its quar­ter­back room. So just imag­ine how much better he will be­come once he learns the sys­tem, ad­justs to life in the NFL and keeps get­ting taught more life lessons from Rodgers.

“He is a nat­u­ral passer, and that’s the one thing you see in all the film you watch,” McCoy said. “It’s ef­fort­less for him to go out there and throw the foot­ball.”

Rosen knows how im­por­tant it is to play up to the ex­pec­ta­tions and pres­sures of be­ing a fran­chise quar­ter­back.

“It’s pretty daunt­ing,” he ad­mit­ted. “The big­gest thing is know­ing that I have ca­reers on my back. I have fam­i­lies, I have kids, and if I don’t play well and I don’t pan out, peo­ple have to get new jobs. Peo­ple get fired and things hap­pen, so you’ve got a lot on your shoulders.

“But I wouldn’t have left col­lege early if I didn’t think I was ready for it. I looked my­self in the mir­ror long and hard and made the de­ci­sion that this was go­ing to be my pro­fes­sion, my pas­sion, my ca­reer.”

As for Rodgers, he’s al­ways go­ing to be the “dude” in Rosen’s eyes. Or as he likes to say it, “the dude with a cap­i­tal D.”

“He’s just the dude. When he’s walk­ing around the build­ing or what­ever he’s do­ing, you know he’s that guy,” Rosen said.

MARK J. REBILAS/USA TO­DAY SPORTS

Newly drafted Car­di­nals quar­ter­back Josh Rosen is al­ready get­ting ad­vice from Packers star Aaron Rodgers, or “Dude” as Rosen calls him.

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