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Nick Bosa vs. Michigan (LT Mason Cole) and Wisconsin (LT Beau Benzchawel) 2017

Big Ten Championship - Ohio State v Wisconsin Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

I wanted to go back and study two of Nick Bosa’s most meaningful Big Ten games in 2017, seeing as the only Big Ten team he played against in his injury shortened 2018 season was Rutgers.

In both 2017 games it is easy to see where Bosa (#97) lines up. He plays the DE spot to the wide side of the field and if the ball is near the middle, he typically plays RDE versus the LT.

Michigan Game (11/25/17) Ohio St. W 31-20

I had forgotten that Mason Cole played left tackle his senior year at Michigan, thus it was a treat to watch Cole and Bosa slug it out. At the outset I figured that Bosa would dominate Cole and the Michigan OL, but that was not the case in this game, thanks to a feisty performance by Mason Cole and smart coaching by Jim Harbaugh to double team Bosa as often as possible.

Double teams can demoralize and tire out a good defensive lineman. But, Nick Bosa played hard every snap and never got discouraged, as is his custom.

Here are some notes on Nick Bosa from this game:


  • Tough and physical at the point of attack.
  • Strong hand puncher.
  • Excellent rip and swim moves.
  • Strong lower body.
  • High energy motor.
  • Good take down tackler.
  • Will take on and nullify blocks.
  • Very good stamina—-no 4th quarter dropoff—-licks his chops in game ending sack chances.
  • Hammers the outside shoulder of the tackle on edge rushes.
  • Can bend the corner and work back to the ball.
  • Maintains his arc, and doesn’t get taken out too wide on pass rush.
  • Strong first step.

Improvement Areas:

  • Jumps inside more than usual, losing contain and giving QB easy escape from pocket.
  • Swims inside like he’s on a TEX stunt, only too often the DT isn’t looping, which leaves a vacated, wide open edge. Did the OSU coaches give him a green light to free lance?
  • Could use a counter spin move when he gets pinned to the top of the rush arc.
  • Doesn’t chase the ball as hard or fast as he can when the flow is away from him (this concerned me about Josh Allen too).
  • Could play faster at times—-tends to get caught up in traffic and could take better pursuit angles back to the ball.
  • Would like to see him develop a stutter-step head-fake rush move (which is Josh Allen’s bread and butter) just to mix up techniques and to keep the tackle off-balance.

Bosa finished the game with 5 tackles (2 solo) and 1 sack.

Kudos to Mason Cole for his effort and performance in this game. I am not sure that Cardinals’ fans realize just yet what a high level athlete and competitor the Cardinals have in Cole.

Wisconsin Game (Big Ten Championship 12/2/17) Ohio St. W 27-21

Bosa got off to a poor start, but got steadily stronger and more productive as the game ensued. Was getting big 4th quarter pressure on QB with game on the line. Had 4 tackles (2 solo) and 1 sack.


Bosa brings toughness, evenly distributed power and very good short area quickness as an edge rusher. He’s a classic 43 DE. Not sure if he’s a 34 OLB because of coverage limitations. May be better suited to play 5 technique as a 34 DE, where he can hammer and split gaps. But Bosa should be at his best in a 4 man rush on passing downs and is made to order for TEX and loop stunts. Thus, whether he plays 34 OLB or 34 DE doesn’t matter.

It will be interesting to see how what he times in the 40 and the 3 cone. I would bet that he aces the 3 cone, which is the mark of a very good edge rusher. The biggest question at the Combine is what he will look like in space during the drills and thus whether he can be considered a viable option as a 34 OLB.

It’s too bad that we couldn’t see him play the Big Ten schedule this year—-it looked like in his first 3 games that he had taken his game to a higher level—-in those early games he looked like a #1 draft pick, but that was against Oregon St., Rutgers and TCU. To be honest, in the two 2017 games versus Michigan and Wisconsin, Bosa does not jump off the tape consistently enough like a #1 pick. So the frustrating thing is that scouts can only speculate what he would have accomplished if he had stayed healthy. This is where his pedigree works very much in his favor. It’s not difficult to imagine him having success as an edge rusher in the NFL, that is if he can stay healthy.