RSP’s Mr. Jackson on DE Nick Bosa (Ohio State): Better Than Joey?

Ohio State defensive end Nick Bosa may be the best prospect in the 2019 NFL Draft class, RSP contributor Jackson block explains why Nick should be better than his All-Pro sibling, Joey. 

Editor’s Note: Jackson Block is a student at CU Denver. Prior to a career-ending injury, Block was once the top-rated outside linebacker-defensive end prospect in the state of Colorado. Block currently scouts for the Blue-Gray All-American game and writes for the Rookie Scouting Portfolio while pursuing his degree. You can follow him on Twitter @JacksonBlock17

Nick Bosa has been groomed for his NFL opportunity. The son and brother of former first-round NFL draft picks, the 6’4″, 263-pound Bosa followed in the footsteps of his NFL All-Pro brother Joey and dominated the competition over the course of 30 games at Ohio State, earning eye-popping stats and numerous honors.

With all due respect to Houston defensive tackle Ed Oliver who poses a valid counterpoint for the title, Bosa is arguably the most talented prospect in the 2019 NFL Draft. HIs vast repertoire of pass rush moves makes him the total package as a defensive end or “Leo” edge rusher in a 4-3 scheme or a 3-4 stand-up “Buck” linebacker.

We’ll leave the “who’s the best prospect” question at the dorm room, the golf course, or the local watering hole. A more fascinating question is if Nick and Joey Bosa have the same game?

Both possess advanced technique and fundamentals that have been drilled since they were young. Both have precise and violent hands at the point of attack, a library of moves, and the ability to anchor gaps. And no one will ever question their respective motors.

There are a lot of similarities and they have many of the same teachers. However, Nick not only does things on a football field that are better than Joey, but there are also things Nick does that Joey cannot do at all.

Like Joey, Nick has great technique in run support and pass rushing situations. Fundamentally, he looks like a seasoned NFL veteran. Whether it’s from a two-point stance or his hand in the dirt, Nick has a premier get-off and explosive burst at the snap that Joey simply doesn’t possess to the same degree.


Nick has a well-built and explosive lower half that helps him beat offensive tackles to their juncture points. His speed rush also sets up a variety of power and counter moves such as the speed-bull rush.  It’s clear in these two clips that Nick is just a different, more fluidly explosive athlete than his older brother.

He has the great natural lean as a rusher that you love to see from a coaching perspective. It allows him to play with leverage and generate power underneath the frames of longer, bigger-bodied tackles. While Joey also possesses this lean, Nick’s added explosiveness makes his leverage even more deadly because he gets on tackles so quickly from his stance.

Nick beats tackles to their juncture points and it often leads to three productive options:

  1. He bends the edge and falls off the table with speed and enough lean to eliminate any blocking surface for the tackle
  2. He uses this leverage to get underneath the linemen and transition into a speed-to-power bull rush when the offensive lineman gets too high in their set and then plays directly through the lineman’s frame.
  3. He sells the speed rush so much that the tackle begins to lean favorably to the outside when vertically setting, which opens the door for an inside counter move.

Nick’s suddenness combined with his technique and strategic skill make is dominant as his brother Joey, if not more so, with fewer snaps. Nick was a part of a rotational scheme that favored getting fresh bodies on the field and boasted three NFL-bound defensive ends in addition to him.

Joey only started alongside two NFL draft picks (Noah Spence and Tyquan Lewis) during his entire Ohio State career. Joey’s snaps were significantly higher than Nick’s yet Nick registered 34 tackles and team highs in Tackles For Loss (16), Tackles For Loss yardage (74 yards), and Sacks (8) while only registering 526 snaps in 14 games.

This tremendous statistical performance occurred with limited volume – he was only on the field 52 percent of eligible snaps in 2017 — because he worked with three other NFL draft picks at his position (Lewis, Sam Hubbard, and Jalyn Holmes). Still, Nick earned the Big Ten’s defensive lineman of the year, All-Big Ten distinctions, and All-American honors from the American Football Coaches Association.

Critics knock Nick for because Joey didn’t have the same caliber of talent around him and still won a national championship. Is it a knock or is it more impressive that Nick was an All-American and difference maker despite only seeing the field 52 percent of the time at an Ohio State program that has to guarantee playing-time to keep top talents in Columbus?

National Championship aside, which is a team accomplishment, Nick’s individual resume is more impressive considering the overwhelming amount of things that could have gone wrong with a lower volume of work. Although Nick’s position teammates are collectively more talented, Joey’s 2014 national championship team was much more talented overall — some argue it was the best team in college football history. There are already four players on that team who have earned Pro-Bowl honors in the NFL and nine of them were first-round picks.

Nick is also a more versatile pass rusher than Joey. He uses one of every move throughout the course of a game during pass-rush situations. He is also calculating with the timing and situation he uses them.

He excels at mixing up his approach so he’s never predictable. Pass rushers at the collegiate level are too often predictable in their rush and have a clear “tell” due to overuse of particular moves or pass rush patterns. Nick maintains the same body language integrity and speed when performing any given move.

He is always true to staying consistent in his body posture when performing a move and is tough for offensive tackles to read. He’ll often kill the offensive lineman with speed and hesitation moves and once the opponent is sold on his speed, he’ll hit a fake inside counter to outside speed rush.

The play after that, he’ll hit the same move as before but add a double swipe because he noticed how the tackle gave Nick his hands in an attempt to reach Nick’s frame with a punch. This opens the door for his devastating swipe.

The outcome of Nick’s versatility is that he never lets his opponents get into a rhythm. Joey has success with keeping opponents off-rhythm but he doesn’t do it with the same frequency. Joey gets caught guessing more often and he can get stuck in his first move.

While both have great motors, Nick’s is better. He also has a higher ceiling at winning his individual matchup in big-on-big situations with his first move at the next level than what we’ve seen with Joey, who profited from six sacks that were attributable to mop-up duty or the benefit of designed pressure or stunt and not his first move.

Remember, Joey is a great player and will be a perennial Pro Bowler in the league. This analysis is splitting hairs between top talents and not denigrating either of them. What places Nick’s talent above Joey’s is what he shares with the edge-rushing superstars like Von Miller and Khalil Mack: They win early in their rush and generate a majority of their production earned from their first move.

Nick has been more consistent than his brother Joey in this regard and his explosion, strategic acumen, and variety of moves, are reasons he projects to be more consistent in the pros. A workout warrior with a blue-collar mentality who also possesses an elite physical makeup, a library of technical tools, and a rare understanding of the nuances of his position for his age, Nick is the complete package who will be a force in the NFL.

He has All-Pro potential and should become one of the best pass rushers in the league over the course of his career. If you want to compare Nick to a player, Mack is a more appropriate choice than his brother Joey.

For the most in-depth analysis of offensive skill players available (QB, RB, WR, and TE), get the 2019  Rookie Scouting Portfolio. If you’re a fantasy owner the Post-Draft Add-on comes with the 2012 – 2018 RSPs at no additional charge.

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