A Look at 2016
UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen just turned in one of the best seasons by a true freshman quarterback ever. True, there haven't been all that many true freshmen who have been even passably good, but Rosen was at times brilliant, most of the time very solid, and only rarely freshman-like in his first year playing the position at the college level. What was noticeable was the way he improved during the season, throwing seven interceptions through the first six games of the year and then not throwing another until the final game of the season. He really only had two poor games, against BYU and USC, and had at least five excellent performances.
Given the progress he was able to make in-season as a true freshman, when his head should have been swimming, it's fun to think about what his first full college offseason is going to do for his development. He has such an advanced understanding of the position, and does such a great job of processing information, that it's easy to imagine him quickly internalizing the major lessons from this season and improving a good deal over the next few months of study and workouts. It's a common belief that players improve the most between their freshman and sophomore seasons, and if that's the case, and we've already see how much Rosen can improve during a season, he could be a real sight to behold come next autumn. He'll go into next season as probably the most heralded starting quarterback in the Pac-12.
As it was this year, though, it's going to be critical for Rosen to remain healthy. It'll arguably be more critical than this year, actually, with Jerry Neuheisel moving on from his playing days. At this point it looks like Neuheisel will stick around campus as a graduate assistant, but Neuheisel could also elect to take the graduate transfer route to see about playing elsewhere. Whatever the case, it appears his UCLA playing days will be over after this season, which is a blow to the depth chart. Mike Fafaul is the only remaining player on the depth chart with any experience, and he isn't a bad option if Rosen has to come out for a play or even a series, but it wouldn't be a great situation if he has to start games for the Bruins.
Lynch and Lee could both provide some depth at quarterback as true freshman, but the true freshman who's actually ready to compete at the college level is the rarity, not the norm. Lee might not stay at quarterback long term, but he'll certainly get his opportunity there given the depth concerns. One of the two will almost certainly have to be the third-string guy, though, unless UCLA can somehow snag a transfer or another four-year prospect.
Assuming UCLA doesn't get another quarterback in this class, there's always the possibility of converting Aaron Sharp back to quarterback. Sharp did not get much time at receiver this year, and he'd probably be a shoe-in to be the third-string quarterback next year with the obvious goal being redshirting Lynch and potentially Lee. Whether that'll be of interest to Sharp at this point is anyone's guess, but it's certainly an option for depth purposes.
Whatever the case, the depth chart at quarterback isn't in a very good place heading into next year, but at the top of it stands the best quarterback prospect UCLA has had since Troy Aikman. If that's some sort of tradeoff, UCLA will take it.
Will the position perform better, worse, or the same in 2016? Better.
Projected 2016 Depth Chart
SO Josh Rosen
RS SR Mike Fafaul
FR Matt Lynch
FR Dymond Lee