UCLA’s Josh Rosen and USC’s Sam Darnold both declared for the NFL draft within minutes of each other on Wednesday, officially beginning a race between the top-two college quarterback prospects to not be drafted first overall by the Cleveland Browns.
Rosen announced his decision in a tweet.
Just 20 minutes later, his crosstown rival Darnold announced his decision in a video on Instagram.
Darnold and Rosen will be compared all offseason, so let’s start the evaluation by breaking down their respective announcements.
Rosen is considered a prototypical, NFL-ready quarterback, so obviously he has an NFL-ready press release that even threw in a promise to his mother (as if his mother is going to learn anything about her son from one of his own press releases). Rosen chose a photo in which he is wearing the UCLA alternate black uniform, rather than the school’s famous blue and gold. Notoriously picky anonymous scouts might consider that a breach of loyalty and therefore a strike against his character. On the other hand, he thanked his teammates, which means he’s a leader, and said he cares about the memories they made, which means he cares about his legacy. He wrote that, “I wish we had won more games,” and a hunger to win is the most important trait teams look for in a franchise quarterback. Despite the jersey oversight, Rosen clearly already has elite public relations skills.
Darnold, on the other hand, is a cold-blooded gunslinger, and that’s evidenced by his choice to post a video on Instagram, which is much riskier than a press release. He seems to be reading off of notecards directly above the camera, which means he may not be ready for an NFL offense that requires you to know plays and formations by heart rather than rely on looking to giant notecards on the sideline. Darnold didn’t mention winning in his Instagram announcement (a red flag) but he did wear his school’s colors (with a sharp red polo), so scouts may be divided on his commitment to the team.
The NFL draft is in 113 days, which will be barely enough time to parse every single aspect of these two young men’s lives. Stay tuned.