Browns exec. didn't draft Rosen because of 'red flag' from UCLA volleyball coach


When making a potentially franchise-altering draft pick, you need to do your due diligence. There are no doubt many factors player personnel executives consider, but the word of a college volleyball coach is usually not one of them.

Speaking at the Pro Football Hall of Fame Luncheon on Monday, Cleveland Browns vice president of player personnel Alonzo Highsmith was talking quarterback evaluations, and when it came to UCLA’s Josh Rosen, the UCLA volleyball coach came up.

But first, Highsmith talked about the decision to select Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield with the first overall pick.

Highsmith explained that USC’s Sam Darnold, who wound up going third to the Jets, was first on his list, ahead of Mayfield, until he met the Oklahoma quarterback in person.

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“Here’s the honest to God’s truth,” Highsmith told the crowd, according to the Canton Repository. “From the start of this college football season to the end of the season, I had Darnold No. 1 and Baker No. 2, (Josh) Rosen No. 3, (Lamar) Jackson No. 4 and (Josh) Allen after that.”

“Then comes the part where you meet them off the field. You watch their workouts. You watch everything. And Baker blew me away. Highly, highly intelligent. Highly competitive,” said Highsmith.

“And he had a trait that some of the good ones have. I call it efficacy. That includes the power to effect other people. I thought that of all the quarterbacks I watched, he stood out far and above the other guys. When he walked into a room, you knew he was there,” Highsmith added.

Do you think the Browns made the right choice by taking Baker Mayfield first overall?

So that’s how Highsmith and GM John Dorsey decided on Mayfield.

But what about Rosen? That’s where the volleyball coach comes in .

“I was at an airport,” Highsmith said. “UCLA’s volleyball team was in front of me. You heard so much about Rosen. He’s this or that. We all know how people talk.”

“So I asked one of the volleyball coaches, ‘What’s Rosen like?’ He said, ‘Aaaaa, you should probably ask his girlfriend. She’s one of the players. She’s over there.’ I’m like, ‘All right coach. That’s good enough.”

“I don’t know what all this means, but there was something about him that bothered me,” Highsmith added.

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There obviously was more to his evaluation of Rosen than that, but for whatever reason, he didn’t follow up with the girlfriend.

“I thought it was interesting he didn’t talk to my girlfriend. Maybe he was scared of someone actually saying something good about me. I don’t know, I just thought it was funny,” Rosen said Wednesday on “The Rich Eisen Show.”

“It’s amazing you can pull a red flag from something with literally zero information. Like he literally pulled absolutely no information from this encounter and it managed to be a red flag,” Rosen added.

For Rosen, it probably worked out for the best. He wound up being drafted tenth overall by the Cardinals, a team that went 8-8 last year despite injuries to their best player, running back David Johnson, and starting quarterback, Carson Palmer.

Rosen could potentially be walking into a situation where he is competing for a starting job on a playoff contender.

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Dave is a lifelong sports fan who has been writing for The Wildcard since 2017. He has been a writer for more than 20 years for a variety of publications.
Dave has been writing about sports for The Wildcard since 2017. He's been a reporter and editor for over 20 years, covering everything from sports to financial news. In addition to writing for The Wildcard, Dave has covered mutual funds for Pensions and Investments, meetings and conventions, money market funds, personal finance, associations, and he currently covers financial regulations and the energy sector for Macallan Communications. He has won awards for both news and sports reporting.
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