The New York Giants met privately, at least per several reports, with 2018 NFL Draft prospect Josh Rosen more than any other quarterback in the 2018 class. Eventually, they decided to pass on Rosen with the No. 2 overall pick to draft 2018 NFL Rookie of the Year and running back Saquon Barkley. This doesn’t mean the Giants were not interested in Rosen.
Shortly after the draft, Giants general manager told reporters that Barkley received the first “perfect 9.0” grade he has given to a draft prospect since Peyton Manning. Gettleman has been evaluating draft-eligible players in the NFL for 33 years. One player who received a perfect grade is in the conversation as the best quarterback of all time and the other has already been billed by current Hall of Fame running backs as a future Hall of Fame running back.
The Giants decision to draft Barkley over Rosen had a lot more to do with their evaluation of the former rather than the latter. Now, the Giants may have a chance to come out of the 2018 draft class with both Barkley and Rosen.
Tuesday’s NFL news cycle was buzzing after Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray hired the same agent as Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury. Kingsbury was hired to be the Cardinals head coach earlier this offseason. In 2018, Kingsbury was coaching in the Big 12 against Murray and he now infamously was quoted saying he would use the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft on the Heisman Trophy winner. The Cardinals own the No. 1 pick in the draft.
Those who connected the dots believe Kingsbury will lean toward drafting Murray at No. 1 overall and trading 2018 first-round draft pick and quarterback Josh Rosen. The Giants were immediately connected as a team who could be interested in trading for Rosen.
If Murray declares, ESPN’s Adam Schefter believes it could set off a chain reaction of events that would change things entirely for multiple franchises. On an episode of “Get Up” on ESPN, Schefter said it was “not implausible” to now expect the Arizona Cardinals to look for a trade partner for quarterback Josh Rosen with the intention of drafting Murray with their first-round draft pick. The Cardinals currently own the No. 1 overall pick in the draft — Rosen is the only thing standing in their way of drafting Murray. The Cardinals used the No. 10 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft to select Rosen.
Schefter likely floated this possibility after putting some of the pieces together. The Cardinals just hired Kliff Kingsbury to be their next head coach. Kingsbury comes from the college ranks where he coached at Texas Tech in the Big 12 Conference. Kingsbury had a bird’s eye view of the Heisman Trophy quarterback on multiple occasions. A few months ago, when head coaching in the NFL probably seemed like a long shot, Kingsbury admitted he would use the No. 1 overall pick on Murray.
Kliff Kingsbury back on October 28, 2018:
“Kyler is a freak…..I would take him with the first pick of the draft if I could.”
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) January 10, 2019
Why Would Teams Want to Acquire Rosen?
Rosen had a rough rookie season behind a Cardinals offensive line that was objectively the NFL’s worst, but this should not impact his long-term projection.
According to research from Graham Barfield of NFL.com, “No quarterback was pressured more often (37.2%), threw into a tight window more often (21.6%), or had a lower expected completion percentage (59.4%)—based on the difficulty of the throw—than Josh Rosen did in 2018,” Barfield Tweeted.
Respected NFL Films guru Greg Cosell, a man who evaluates countless hours of game film every year, named Rosen a better prospect entering the NFL than Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff. Cosell found similarities between the two prospects.
Would the Giants have any interest?
The Giants did not discuss Rosen much during the pre-draft process, but general manager Dave Gettleman made it clear he did not subscribe to the rumored theory suggesting Rosen did not love the game. Gettleman shut down that narrative when asked about it during his pre-draft presser. The Giants met with Rosen for a private pre-draft visit. During this private visit, the Giants are not allowed to put Rosen through another workout on the field.
The Giants previously met with Rosen out in Los Angeles when they took him out to dinner and then put him through a private workout before his UCLA Pro Day. The Giants also met with Rosen at the NFL Combine when they used one of their 60 allotted Combine interviews on the quarterback. Giants co-owner Steve Tisch confirmed he met with Rosen when the Giants were out in Los Angeles to watch his Pro Day. Although Tisch wants to remain tight-lipped about the Giants draft process and his thoughts on the prospects, he did offer a quick compliment about his interview with Rosen.
“His table manners: Unbelievable,” Tisch said to reporters at the owners meetings, via Newsday. “He was brought up very well. He’s a very charismatic young man.”
Rosen spoke glowingly of his first private meeting with the Giants on the Rich Eisen Show and even discussed how hard he rooted for Eli Manning and the franchise to defeat Tom Brady and the New England Patriots during both of their Super Bowl matchups. Rosen also decided to give a shoutout to Shurmur after his impressive Pro Day performance.
“For me the coolest part of this meeting people from all around the country,” Rosen told Mayock, via NFL.com. “I remember sitting in a meeting with the Giants and I kinda double-took it. Coach Shurmur, I just saw your press conference like two weeks ago. This is kinda cool.”
What would it cost the Giants?
Some have speculated the Giants would have to trade the No. 6 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft to acquire Rosen, but we don’t buy it. If the Giants were to trade for Rosen now, they have already lost one season of control over him on his rookie contract. In the NFL salary cap era, starting quarterbacks on their rookie contracts are worth their weight in gold. Not to mention, the Cardinals originally used the No. 10 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft to acquire Rosen.
More likely, the Giants would send a package of draft picks to acquire Rosen that would include the No. 38 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft (the Giants’ second-round pick), a late-round 2019 draft pick, and a conditional 2020 draft pick.
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Would the Cardinals actually move on from Rosen?
For what it’s worth, Kingsbury tried his best to silence the Murray to Arizona rumor.
“Our feelings toward Josh haven’t waned or changed,” Kingsbury said on Tuesday. “I get that we have the first pick and there are going to be a million scenarios, and over the next three months they are going to come up. But Josh is our guy.”
Kingsbury has also previously made it clear that he’s a big fan of what he’s seen from Rosen. Kingsbury told reporters during his presser that he has already done extensive film work on Rosen and that it’s “hard to find a guy that throws it better” than Rosen. After evaluating the prospect last offseason, we concur. Rosen is a rhythm passer with refined footwork, throwing mechanics, mental processing, and anticipation. The Cardinals had the No. 32 ranked offensive line in 2018, per Pro Football Focus and Football Outsiders. Rosen was never able to get into a rhythm and the situation around him only got worse when he lost his favorite target (Christian Kirk) to a season-ending injury.
Of course, what else would you expect him to say? If the Cardinals were planning to make the switch at quarterback — and to draft Murray — they wouldn’t admit it.