Draft Daily: Joey Bosa, the Elite End Who May Fall
Between now and the draft, we’ll zero in on one prospect a day with an Eagles slant. We’ve already covered Jared Goff, Carson Wentz, Vernon Hargreaves, Paxton Lynch and Ezekiel Elliott. If you have a player you think should be covered, shoot us an email (email@example.com).
THE BACK STORY
It happens every year. We haven’t reached that time yet, but as the draft becomes just days away rather than weeks, enough analysts will predict who teams will select, and we’ll think we know how the top few picks will play out.
But, of course, there’s always an inevitable surprise or two and at least one player will fall further than we anticipated. It’s difficult to predict who that will be, or whether a top prospect could fall all the way to the Eagles at No. 8, but Joey Bosa seems like a plausible candidate.
The Ohio State defensive end, who’s tied for third in our consensus rankings of the top ten prospects, is now projected in several mock drafts to go to the Ravens at No. 6, so it wouldn’t be shocking if Bosa is available for the Eagles. (Three NFL.com writers predict Bosa will fall to Baltimore, and Rob Rang of CBS Sports has him dropping to Tampa Bay at No. 9.) According to Baltimore’s team website, they have four needs that are more pressing than defensive line.
Bosa — along with three of his teammates — was suspended for Ohio State’s opener last season for violating team rules. He declined to specify for what at the NFL Combine, but ESPN reported that it was related to marijuana and/or academics. Some also think Bosa’s draft stock could be hurt because he seems to be a better fit in the 4-3, and many of the top teams selecting run a 3-4. (According to ESPN, five of the teams in the top-7 use the 3-4, and Bosa said in Indianapolis that he’d prefer to play in a 4-3.)
If you look at the Eagles’ roster, defensive line doesn’t seem to be much of a need for them either, particularly after Vinny Curry’s new deal made him the third well-paid defensive end on the books for at least the next three years. However, Howie Roseman has done a good job of addressing the team’s biggest needs, so he won’t enter the draft feeling the pressure to select a certain position in the first round.
In 2014, Bosa was an All-American, the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and a finalist for three of the nation’s awards for top defender. Last season, his numbers dipped, but he was still named the Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year and many outlets named him an All-American for the second consecutive season.
Between his standing as an elite defensive end, and Doug Pederson reiterating at the owners meetings that the Eagles need to add a pass-rusher, a Bosa selection wouldn’t be shocking.
At the NFL Combine, Bosa ranked second in the 3-cone drill and 20-yard shuttle, and fifth in the broad jump among defensive linemen.
The Florida native comes from a family of pro football players, as both his dad (John Bosa) and his uncle (Eric Kumerow) were defensive ends drafted at No. 16 overall by the Dolphins in 1987 and 1988.
In the games I watched, it wasn’t hard to see why Bosa was considered by many to be an All-American despite a decrease in his numbers. He often faced double- — and even triple- — teams, and his film is flat-out impressive.
One of the first things that stood out to me with Bosa was how he uses his hands. Todd McShay recently broke down Bosa’s strip-sack against Michigan.
“The rip-to-club move — terrific job there getting around the edge while engaged,” McShay said. “Some torso flexibility to get around that edge, bend it, and then drive through Jake Rudolph, the Michigan quarterback.”
Bosa’s film against Rutgers, in particular, was fun to watch. Here’s his tackle-for-loss, when he used a beautiful swim move to quickly beat the left guard.
And here’s his sack, when he beat the right tackle around the edge.
He also had a pair of impressive plays against Penn State. This is his tackle-for-loss, when he quickly shed two blockers to meet the ball-carrier before leaving the backfield.
And this is the sack, when he got the right guard off balance and pushed him into the quarterback.
One more play I really liked was his tackle-for-loss against Illinois, when he pushed the right tackle to the ground (who then took out the quarterback standing behind him), before grabbing the running back from behind.
As you can see, Bosa has a very good bullrush, and although he didn’t run a great 40-yard-dash, his film shows some burst around the edge. He does a great job of controlling offensive linemen, and he clearly understands how to use their leverage against them. Ohio State also did a good job of moving him around the defensive line, which is something Jim Schwartz likes to do with his best players.
One of the main knocks I’ve seen against Bosa is about his speed, and that although he may be one of the safest picks in the draft, his ceiling may be lower than others’. Some also express concern about his ability to diagnose plays and counter misdirections.
THE BOTTOM LINE
The more I think about the draft, the more convinced I am the Eagles will select someone we aren’t talking much about. I think it’s very unlikely Carson Wentz or Jared Goff falls to No. 8, but I do think another player some expect to go in the top-5 will unexpectedly drop, prompting the Eagles to take a top prospect over the more anticipated picks like Vernon Hargreaves or Ronnie Stanley.
Of course, there’s no way of knowing who, exactly, that will be. I think it’s reasonable to name Bosa as a candidate, and if he is available at No. 8, I imagine Schwartz will be lobbying for the Buckeye.