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Jim Mora explains saying the Browns should take Sam Darnold instead of Josh Rosen

The former UCLA head coach has some more to say about whether his old QB should go No. 1.

USC v UCLA Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Former UCLA head man Jim Mora is a coach who’s known for being fiercely protective over his players. So the notion he doesn’t think his guy, Josh Rosen, should go No. 1 overall is odd. But the context Mora gives makes a bit of sense:

Mora’s not above saying something provocative about a player who’s left school early. Take what he said about Myles Jack’s draft stock, for instance.

To SI, the coach later expanded on his comments:

“I put it in the context of ‘fit,’” Mora told me. He strongly emphasized the word “fit” in our conversation. He said Darnold has “the underdog mentality that I think will fit so well in Cleveland, a franchise that’s really been down.”

Of his own quarterback, Mora said: “Josh, I think, without a doubt, is the number one quarterback in the draft. He’s a franchise-changer. He’s got the ability to have an immediate impact. His arm talent, intelligence, and his ability to see the game and diagnose the game is rare. He’d come to the sidelines after a play and it was uncanny—he could right away say exactly why he made every decision.

“He needs to be challenged intellectually so he doesn’t get bored. He’s a millennial. He wants to know why. Millennials, once they know why, they’re good. Josh has a lot of interests in life. If you can hold his concentration level and focus only on football for a few years, he will set the world on fire. He has so much ability, and he’s a really good kid.”

The response:

All players in this draft class are millennials, but Mora’s referring to something else. Rosen’s image of being a California cool kid who can come off as a jerk has dogged him throughout the draft process. Rosen’s also not against speaking what’s on his mind. Does that fit a team in a blue-collar city?

Before you read too much into what Mora thinks about Rosen’s toughness, remember Mora came to his QB’s defense on that topic:

“I think it’s ludicrous that anyone would question Josh Rosen’s toughness when they don’t know the nature of his injury,” Mora said. “In all fairness to my comment, for a broadcaster to know zippo about what’s going on there to question the toughness of Josh Rosen, like, I guess it drives ratings, I don’t know.”

We can’t all be drill sergeants, and Rosen’s talents are good enough to get him taken second in our Dan Kadar’s mock draft. But Kadar’s justification is Darnold’s more of a project, and should have the luxury of sitting behind Tyrod Taylor. Rosen’s seen as more pro-ready right now, whether his personality is blue collar or not.