This one won’t sit well in Westwood.
Former UCLA coach Jim Mora has endorsed Sam Darnold, the quarterback from crosstown Pac-12 rival USC, as the top pick in the NFL draft over Josh Rosen, the Bruins signal-caller who played for him.
He explained his reasoning Monday on NFL Network’s “Path to the Draft” after joking about being put “on the spot” with the question about who should go No. 1.
“Because of fit, I would take Sam Darnold if I were the Cleveland Browns,” Mora said. “I think that blue-collar, gritty attitude — I think his teammates will love him. I think the city will love him. He’ll say the right things. He’ll come in and represent well. I think he kind of represents what Cleveland is.”
Mora made a quick turn to not sell Rosen too short, endorsing him as a good choice for the New York Giants or Jets.
“And then if I was one of the New York teams, I’d take Josh like that. I think they’re both going to be great pros.”
Mora coached UCLA from 2012 until he was fired after a third straight loss to Darnold’s Trojans in November. Rosen played his entire three-year career at UCLA under Mora.
Now some Bruins fans might see this as a salty Mora selling a Bruin short after losing his job. Others may take the glass-half-full approach of Mora looking at the big picture and endorsing his glamour quarterback from a big-city program for a New York gig over the decades-long ineptitude of the Cleveland Browns.
The reality is more likely that Mora was doing his best to take a neutral stance as a TV football analyst and give an honest answer about how he sees the draft playing out.
For the record, Yahoo’s Tank Williams has the Browns taking Darnold at No. 1 with Buffalo swooping up to snag Rosen with the No. 2 pick in his latest mock draft.
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