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Mora: Rosen 'same guy' as Manning in intelligence, work ethic

UCLA coach Jim Mora hasn't been shy about touting his young quarterback, Josh Rosen, saying the sophomore-to-be would have been the No. 1 pick of last year's draft had he been available.

Now, he's invoking the name of a previous No. 1 overall pick in describing his ultra-talented passer: Peyton Manning.

"I'm not comparing him to Peyton Manning in the NFL," Mora told Sports Illustrated. "But at this stage of his career -- essentially the same point -- he's the same guy in terms of football intelligence and work ethic."

That's awfully high praise, but perhaps not unwarranted. Rosen, just like Manning at Tennessee, was the starting quarterback at a high-profile program as a true freshman. Rosen earned the UCLA job in fall camp last year and started from the beginning of the season, whereas injuries ahead of Manning on the Tennessee depth chart allowed him to emerge as a midseason starter for the Volunteers in 1994.

Rosen threw for 3,669 yards and 23 touchdowns last year, with only 11 interceptions, and is regarded by NFL Media analyst Lance Zierlein as the No. 4 quarterback to watch in the nation. NFL Media's Daniel Jeremiah has called him the most gifted passer in college football.

It's not the first time Manning's name has been associated with one of the nation's top quarterbacks. In fact, just last week, an ex-NFL executive drew similarities between the future Hall of Famer and Miami QB Brad Kaaya. Like Mora, the former exec cited intelligence in making the comparison.

Rosen won't be eligible for the NFL draft until, at the earliest, 2018.

But the hype surrounding his status as a future pro continues to build.

*Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter **@ChaseGoodbread*.

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