Was Joey Bosa the Right Pick for Chargers?
By Matt Pagels
Everyone had a different opinion on who the San Diego Chargers should take in the 2016 NFL Draft, but we can all agree on one thing: it was a shocker.
The Chargers knew all along that former Ohio State defensive end Joey Bosa was their guy. Rumors about Jalen Ramsey, DeForest Buckner, Laremy Tunsil (and his bong), Ronnie Stanley and even Myles Jack going to the Chargers circulated over the past few months, but there was not one word connecting Bosa to them.
“It’s our business to keep our information in-house,” general manager Tom Telesco said, via the San Diego Union-Tribune. “Most teams do. We’re just doing our job. Certainly, our No. 1 goal wasn’t to throw people off. Our goal was just to find football players.”
At first I was afraid. Man, I was petrified. Quoting Gloria Gaynor’s “I will survive” described what was going through my mind. Where will he play? Will he be an elite player in the NFL?
But the selection of Bosa was the right choice. It was actually a great choice. He is a football player, and the Chargers needed him.
Apr 28, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Joey Bosa (Ohio State) with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell after being selected by the San Diego Chargers as the number three overall pick in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft at Auditorium Theatre. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
According to ESPN Stats and Information, the Chargers have 58 total sacks over the last two seasons, which is the second fewest in the league during that span. Bosa finished as the No. 1 and No. 2 pass rusher in the nation among edge defenders in 2014 and 2015, respectively, per Pro Football Focus.
The Chargers finished in the bottom half of the league in rushing defense and allowed 28 rushing touchdowns over the last two seasons. Bosa finished No. 1 in the nation among edge defenders against the run in both 2014 and 2015, per PFF.
Two issues potentially fixed with one player. Bosa is a consistent playmaker. More importantly, he is a finisher. In 2014, Bosa was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year after leading all FBS defenders with 22 tackles for loss (finished No. 4 overall in 2015). He also amassed 26 sacks over three years at Ohio State.
Bosa is known for his incredible motor and disruptive presence. He doesn’t have elite speed (4.86 40-yard dash), but his dominance with his hands, great instincts and aggressiveness make up for that. Here’s some words from NFL analyst Lance Zierlein:
“(Bosa) uses arm extension and forward lean as his primary weapon. Generates speed-to-power bullrush and plays off of that with a punch and pull technique that pulls tackles off balance.”
Bosa put up solid numbers at the NFL combine in February. Even though he’s not an extraordinary athlete like a Ramsey, that doesn’t mean he won’t be a star in the NFL.
So what’s the problem? At 6-foot-5, Bosa adds length to a somewhat smaller defensive line (height-wise), but he’s going to need to add on weight (269 pounds). While the Chargers are a 3-4 team on paper, they don’t always run out of it, and that’s why Bosa will fit well in John Pagano’s system. He’s scheme-versatile and has the flexibility to play end, move inside or play standing up in sub-packages.
According to Union-Tribune’s Michael Gehlken, Bosa is expected to start at left end with free-agent acquisition Brandon Mebane playing nose tackle and Corey Liuget manning the right side. It’s safe to say that having both Mebane and Liuget next to Bosa will be a huge help in his development as a stud 5-tech defensive end. After it being a big weakness over the years, the Chargers’ front seven just got a whole lot better.
New Chargers OLB Joey Bosa on NFL Network: "I'm going to give them everything I have, every single day. Let's win some games, man."
— Michael Gehlken (@sdutGehlken) April 29, 2016
I’ve seen people comparing Bosa to Texans’ J.J. Watt, Ravens’ Terrell Suggs, Packers’ Clay Matthews and former 49er Justin Smith. While they are all great comparisons, it’s way too early to make those statements.
I will say this: Bosa is going to be a leader on defense, and a player the Chargers haven’t had since the beast that was Shawne Merriman. If that’s a player you don’t want, then I don’t know what to tell you.