In 2016, Ohio State Buckeyes defensive end Joey Bosa was named the 3rd overall pick of the NFL Draft, drafted by the (then) San Diego Chargers.
Bosa now calls Los Angeles home, although perhaps it’d be more fitting for him to set up a P.O. Box in the opposing team’s backfield? Bosa has logged 23.0 sacks in his first two seasons in the NFL, a figure that is the 11th highest of all-time since the league started officially logging sacks as a statistic back in 1982.
Ahead of Joey are notable names such as Reggie White, Von Miller, Derrick Thomas, J.J. Watt, Clay Matthews and Dwight Freeney. It’s some mighty fine company to be in, a testament to Bosa’s technical prowess as a pass rusher.
Coming out of Ohio State, Bosa was widely regarded as a top prospect and has delivered on that billing. Fast forward three years and it is now younger brother Nick’s turn to live up to some lofty expectations.
Nick Bosa enters his true junior season with the Buckeyes in 2018 as a candidate to be the top prospect in the 2019 NFL Draft. With no clear-cut quarterback prospects to claim the top spot, a strong season for Nick could catapult him into that stratosphere while almost certainly assuring he’ll join his brother as a Top 5 pick in 2019.
As is often the case in family matters and football, these two will be compared endlessly by pundits, coaches, players and fans alike. But before Nick makes the jump to the NFL, here’s a comparison of how these two win (or won) on the field as Buckeyes.
From a stature standpoint, there’s ample similarity between the two. Joey checked in at the NFL Combine in 2016 at 6-foot-5, 269 pounds Nick is currently listed on the Ohio State depth chart at 6-foot-4, 263 pounds And while Joey has allegedly added some weight to his frame, listed at 280 on the Chargers depth chart, neither one has any issues with functional strength when turning on the Ohio State film.
Joey Bosa's College Film Strengths
One of Joey’s key appeals coming out was his positional versatility and scheme-diverse skill set. Before the Chargers pulled the trigger at No. 3 overall, there was some question whether teams like the Dallas Cowboys and Baltimore Ravens would be viable fits. There’s plenty of differences between those schemes, yet the general consensus around Joey was he could plug and play in any damn scheme a coach wanted.
This clip below, from Joey’s sophomore season, illustrates the ample functional power he held at the time.
And this level of power extends well beyond rushing the passer when digging through Joey’s college tape. As a matter of fact, the insane levels of depth at Ohio State occasionally forced Joey into the B-gap as a run defender. Useful experience considering he’s been dealt similar responsibilities at times with the Chargers.
Joey illustrated impressive awareness at the line of scrimmage, even from an inside alignment. Action is quick to transpire inside, where tight quarters require quick mental processing and precision to play off of blocks and uncover to challenge the ball.
Here is an additional look at just how good Joey was at Ohio State from a 2015 contest against Penn State.
Nick Bosa's College Film Strengths
Nick Bosa, with at least one more season of eligibility at Ohio State to use, has already begun to flash similar strength as an interior run gap defender. Like big brother Joey, Nick has a terrific feel for navigating blocks. Also like his brother, Nick utilized strong fits and placement of his hands to ensure as instances allow, he’s able to detach from blocks and challenge the football.
But the key for any defensive end prospect looking to get drafted in the first few picks is centered around pass rush acumen and the ability to successfully challenge tackles with consistency.
Despite Joey’s 5.0 sacks as a junior in 2015, there was never really any doubt on his ability to get after the quarterback. With 26.0 sacks with the Buckeyes, Bosa tallied up a massive body count on opposing quarterbacks and did so with a number of different counters and attacks of protection schemes.
For example, blocking him with a back or tight end was not advisable.
And while this may not be a “translatable” play, it’s the exact reaction you’d want to see from an elite rusher in a mis-match situation. There was plenty of technique in Joey’s college film as a pass rusher, too.
There’s the kind of move NFL offensive tackles have yet to prove capable of negating. Joey’s deliberate usage of his limbs and his ability to plan and execute hand counters set him apart from a vast majority of college pass rush prospects.
Nick offers much of the same. This two-rush sample against Orlando Brown Jr. and the Oklahoma Sooners is a great illustration of stringing together reps as a rusher.
After just missing a chance to turn the corner on this first rush, Nick comes back with minor adjustments before effectively stepping around Brown for a hit on Baker Mayfield.
And in a more recent game from last season (the Cotton Bowl vs. USC), Nick illustrates some of that same attention to slight details to execute and finish reps effectively.
Cut From The Same Cloth
Both Joey and Nick Bosa have enjoyed success as a football player and as brothers, they’ve managed to do so in very similar fashion.
Both Bosa brothers tout great functional strength, prototypical build, effective and deliberate hands and sudden reaction skills to mirror the ball regardless of the game situation.
And when able to compare the college resumes of both players, finding differences between the two is a matter of splitting hairs. Joey was a touch more powerful, but Nick appears to be a bit looser as an edge rusher. Watching both players closely will generate the sensation that they’ll end up testing similar athletically as well.
That’s a great foundation for Nick Bosa to work with, meaning there’s plenty to get excited about as a Buckeyes fan in 2018. Just don't get too attached.