There’s an old story about why, back in 2005, Alex Smith became the NFL’s top overall draft pick over Aaron Rodgers.
The story goes that Mike Nolan, then the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers, who had the top pick, decided upon Smith after seeing the current Redskins quarterback open the car door for his mom.
It was that action that reportedly led Nolan to decide Smith was his guy, but it left Rodgers befuddled, as he would later say, “I laugh at stories like that because that has nothing to do with being a quarterback.”
Fast-forward 13 years and there’s a new story regarding a top quarterback prospect. This time it’s the story of why the Browns passed on UCLA’s Josh Rosen for the top overall pick in the draft.
Browns vice president of player personnel Alonzo Highsmith was recently asked why the organization selected Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield with the first pick over all of the other top quarterback prospects, including Rosen.
Highsmith discussed the draft preparation he did, which included talking to a number of people who could provide insight into the prospects.
One of the people who likely could have provided insight into Rosen was the quarterback’s girlfriend, who played volleyball at UCLA. But Highsmith never even had a conversation with her, despite a strange encounter with the volleyball team’s coach.
“I was at an airport,” Highsmith said Monday at the Pro Football Hall of Fame Luncheon, according to the Canton Repository. “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.'”
The coach’s comment alone was apparently enough to turn Highsmith off in regard to Rosen, so he never spoke to the girlfriend.
“I don’t know what all this means, but there was something about him that bothered me,” Highsmith said of Rosen.
That didn’t sit well with Rosen, who believes the Browns created a red flag based on an innocuous comment. He talked about his issues with what Highsmith said earlier this week on “The Rich Eisen Show.”
"Maybe he was scared of someone saying something good about me." –@AZCardinals QB @josh3rosen told us he heard the comments #Brown executive Alonzo Highsmith made on why the team passed on him: pic.twitter.com/tZ8uyJJETM
— Rich Eisen Show (@RichEisenShow) May 2, 2018
“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.
“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.
With the top overall pick, the Browns selected Mayfield, who has very legitimate red flags. Rosen would end up falling to No. 10 overall, where he was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals.
By now, everyone knows that Rosen comes from a wealthy family, but that doesn’t mean he’ll brush aside the money he lost when he fell to the 10th pick. Forbes estimated that Mayfield will earn about $15 million more over the life of his rookie contract than Rosen will earn as the 10th pick.
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