It’s fitting that Mike Rose shares the name of a popular flower because the defensive lineman’s career has recently started to blossom.
Rose arrived at North Carolina State University in 2011 as a 215-pound defensive end. He worked on building his frame during his tenure with the Wolfpack, eventually weighing 270 pounds by his redshirt junior season.
It was that same year that Rose started to make a big impact on the field, making 45 total tackles, 13 tackles for loss, four sacks, two fumble recoveries and one forced fumble. He improved on those numbers in 2015 as a redshirt senior, recording 49 total tackles, 15.5 tackles for loss, nine sacks, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.
Rose went unselected in the 2016 NFL draft, though NFLMocks.com identified him as a potential sleeper pick. He lacked the optimal length for an NFL pass rusher at six-foot-two but tested well at his pro day, running a 4.67 forty-yard dash and recording 17 reps on the bench press.
He signed with the New York Giants after going undrafted, reportedly receiving a $12,000 signing bonus. The native of Fountain Inn, S.C. made an appearance in the pre-season but was released near the end of training camp. He spent the rest of that year unsigned.
Rose came to Canada in May 2017, signing with the Calgary Stampeders. He spent almost the full season on the club’s practice roster, appearing in one game at the end of the season. The following year went almost the same, dressing for one contest between long stints on the practice roster.
Then, in February 2019, perennial all-star Micah Johnson left for Saskatchewan in free agency and everything changed.
Johnson had grown into a dominant player over six seasons with the Stamps (2013-2018), recording 158 tackles, 41 sacks, six forced fumbles and two interceptions. His departure for the Riders opened a starting spot at defensive tackle and Rose took full advantage, winning the job.
Rose made 18 starts in 2019, recording 50 tackles, five sacks, and one forced fumble. His performance was stronger in every statistical category than Johnson, who had a down year in Regina.
Calgary rewarded Rose for his strong season, signing him to a two-year contract extension worth $125,000 in 2020 and $150,000 in 2021.
“Mike took advantage of the opportunity that was presented to him last season and became an important and dependable player in the middle of our defence,” Stampeders general manager John Hufnagel said when the extension was announced. “Now that he has a full season of experience, I look forward to seeing him further raise the level of his play.”
Rose is the perfect example of a player who benefited from his time on the practice roster. He worked, listened and learned over two seasons to become an impact starter at defensive tackle. We suspect he’ll only get better in 2021 and beyond.
3DownNation is unveiling its list of the top 100 active CFL players. To read the criteria for player eligibility, click here. The list to date can be found below.
94. REC S.J. Green, Free Agent
95. DB Mike Edem, Saskatchewan Roughriders
96. DL John Bowman, Montreal Alouettes
97. DB Taylor Loffler, Montreal Alouettes
98. QB Nick Arbuckle, Ottawa Redblacks
99. ST Mike Miller, Winnipeg Blue Bombers
100. DE Chris Casher, B.C. Lions