Josh Rosen wasn't drafted by the Browns because of a ... UCLA volleyball coach?
With the NFL draft completed, it’s time for teams to take stock of who they have — and explain why they did or didn’t draft certain players. Alonzo Highsmith, vice president of player personnel for the Cleveland Browns, did that on Monday when he spoke to the Football Hall of Fame Luncheon Club. According to the Canton Repository, while talking about the team’s draft strategy and why they picked Baker Mayfield No. 1, Highsmith told an odd story about Josh Rosen.
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Well, the story wasn’t actually about Rosen all that much. It was a story about how Highsmith tried to get more information on Rosen, who then played for UCLA, before the draft. An airport interaction with UCLA’s volleyball coach may have somehow lowered Rosen’s stock with the Browns.
“I was at an airport,” he 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.”
If that makes sense to you, then congratulations on living inside of Alonzo Highsmith’s brain. Because that is a weird story that leads to an even weirder conclusion by Highsmith.
Let’s break it down step by step. Highsmith is at an airport and sees UCLA’s volleyball team. So he goes up to the coach and asks about Rosen, even though it’s not clear why Highsmith thought the volleyball coach would know one of the football players well enough to talk about him. The coach may or may not have known Rosen personally, but he pointed out someone who definitely knew him well: his girlfriend. But instead of talking with Rosen’s girlfriend, Highsmith just ended the conversation without talking to anyone else.
Somehow, for some reason, that interaction gave Highsmith negative feelings about Rosen. Even though, according to him, the one person he spoke to — the volleyball coach — didn’t even talk about Rosen. He may not have known him at all, but it didn’t really matter because Rosen’s girlfriend was right there! Even if the coach had known Rosen, it makes tons of sense to send Highsmith to someone who knows Rosen so well.
Maybe Highsmith was spooked because the volleyball coach wouldn’t talk about Rosen and instead directed him to someone else. Of course, this someone else was Rosen’s girlfriend, who Highsmith never talked to. And it’s a mystery how any of this reflects poorly on Rosen, who was never actually talked about.
The Browns didn’t take Rosen with their No. 1 pick, or with the No. 4 pick, either. Browns GM John Dorsey had a tight handle on his plan, but who knows if Highsmith’s airport-volleyball-coach opinion had anything to do with that. Rosen ended up being taken No. 10 by the Arizona Cardinals. A conversation with the UCLA volleyball coach probably didn’t have anything to do with that.
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Liz Roscher is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at email@example.com or follow her on twitter! Follow @lizroscher
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