With the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine just around the corner, we’re about to find out quite a bit about this year’s to defensive prospects and how they stack up relative to one another. But before we even get to Indy, there’s at least one thing we already know.
Unless both of his legs fall off, Ohio State’s Nick Bosa isn’t making it out of the top-five.
It was a disappointing 2018 season for the 6’4″, 263-pound younger brother of 2016 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Joey Bosa. Bosa was off to a hot start, with 11 tackles, six tackles for loss and three sacks over Ohio State’s first three games. But then he suffered a core muscle injury that required surgery, and rather than risk re-injury by returning late in the season Bosa withdrew from school in order to concentrate on the NFL Draft.
However, per Grant Gordon of NFL.com, Bosa’s father (who was also a first-round pick of the Miami Dolphins back in 1987) said that Nick’s now 100 percent and will be a full-go at the combine. “If there’s anything he’d like to re-test, then he’ll go to the Ohio State pro day and re-test there,” said Bosa. “But I’m pretty sure he’s going to be pleased with everything he does at the combine. His training was a combination of rehab and training. Health-wise, as of about three weeks ago, now it’s 100 percent training for the combine. So he’s 100-percent healthy and ready to go.”
If that’s truly the case, we could be in for quite the show. There’s a reason why Bosa, who tallied 17.5 sacks and 77 tackles (29 for a loss) in 29 games at Ohio State, has long been a front-runner for the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 draft. He possesses a frightening blend of size, speed, strength, agility and pass-rushing moves.
Back in June of 2018, Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com was effusive in his praise of Bosa’s ability to get after the quarterback. “Every opposing team tries to throw multiple blockers at Bosa throughout the game, and he still finds his way to the quarterback,” Jeremiah said. “It doesn’t matter if he’s being doubled by a tight end or chipped by a running back — he just refuses to be blocked. He’s one of the best pure pass rushers I’ve evaluated. I’ve seen guys with more size or explosiveness, but his innate feel and polished technique put him in the elite class.”
According to Kalyn Kahler of the MMQB, Bosa has plenty of admirers in league circles as well.
“Cut and paste his brother; they are very, very similar,” an AFC executive said. “They play extremely hard. Great edge setters and presence vs. run, great pass rush. Get-off is really good. First step. Can turn the corner with speed or go right down the middle of the OT with power. They are a lot alike.”
“Versatile, tough and high-effort guy,” an NFC executive added. “Good edge rush and can also drop inside and rush effectively due to quickness, strength and hand use. Good closing burst and heavy on contact. Negative is he can be over-aggressive and not consistent reading keys. Good athlete—not great—but you love the effort and violence in his play. Should come in and contribute/start early. Love the play style and aggressiveness he would bring.”
Assuming that his medicals check out, Bosa’s a shoo-in to receive an invitation to the draft in Nashville. It’s equally likely that he won’t be waiting in the Green Room long. In fact, Bleacher Report NFL Draft Lead Writer Matt Miller’s most recent mock has Bosa going No. 1 overall to the Arizona Cardinals.
“Nick Bosa isn’t a generational talent—that phrase needs to be retired—but he’s a blue-chip prospect at the most important position in the NFL outside of quarterback,” he said. “If the Cardinals are set on Josh Rosen as the future of the team, then Bosa is a no-brainer selection. Bosa’s talent is unquestioned as a true edge-rusher. As long as he’s recovered from a sports hernia injury that ended his 2018 season in September, he will be a wire-to-wire No. 1 overall prospect on my board.”
Here’s the thing though—that would quite possibly be an awful break for IDP drafters. After one disastrous season under Steve Wilks, the Cardinals are heading back to a 3-4 base defense under new coordinator Vance Joseph. If Bosa lands in the desert with the Redbirds, he could wind up designated a linebacker—and a defensive line pool in IDP leagues that needs all the help it can get could lose out on a player who might be capable of DL1 production from Day 1.
However, as Rob Lowder wrote for SB Nation, there’s been growing buzz that Bosa to Arizona isn’t a lock—that the team could look to the interior of the defensive line with Alabama’s Quinnen Williams or deal the first overall pick to a QB-needy team.
That would open the door for John Lynch to sprint to the podium at a dead run in order to make Bosa the fourth defensive lineman taken by the San Francisco 49ers in Round 1 since 2015.
“Williams is widely considered the No. 2 prospect and has picked up steam as a possibility to supplant Bosa for the draft’s top pick,” he wrote. “The Cardinals, who already have standout pass rusher Chandler Jones, may be feel Williams can have a greater impact on their defense rather than adding another edge rusher. A quarterback-needy team could also trade-up with the Cardinals in the hopes of landing their franchise signal-caller. Both situations would lead to Bosa falling into the lap of Lynch and the 49ers.”
It would be a dream landing spot—I get the vapors just thinking about Bosa playing the “Leo” weak-side end spot in Robert Saleh’s 4-3 Under front. If the Niners were to trade down in their own right, there’s no chance in hell Bosa gets past the Jets at No. 3. Not with Gang Green moving to a four-man front under new DC Gregg Williams. That would also be a fine IDP landing spot, although Bosa wouldn’t have the pieces around him in the Big Apple that he’d have in Santa Clara.
As someone who watched every snap of Bosa’s collegiate career (both of them, actually), I have absolutely zero doubt that Nick’s going to be a difference-maker in the pros from the get-go. He’s every bit the player Joey is.
The only question now (as it is so often in IDP leagues) is whether Bosa will land in a spot where that difference-making equates to IDP value, or if he’ll become the latest exhibit in the case for re-examining positional classifications for pass-rushers.