When the San Francisco 49ers beat the Seattle Seahawks at the end of the season last year and all but secured the fact that the falling Arizona Cardinals would end up with the #1 overall pick in the 2019 NFL draft, there was quite a reaction from sports fans and media and NFL draft analysts alike.
Much of it went along the lines of “Nice going, 49ers now you’ll have to face Bosa twice a year.”
Nick Bosa began the 2019 season as the consensus #1 overall pick until a core muscle injury that required surgery convinced him to sit out the rest of the season and prepare for the NFL Draft.
So...what changed and why is it that in mock drafts there are rankings all over the place now for the #1 pick?
Is it that Nick Bosa isn’t all he’s cracked up to be? Here’s the arguments (and counter arguments) below:
#3. He’s a Bosa with the traits that his brother brings...and many assign him the negatively perceived ones.
Fair or not, when you play the same position with the same style and the same last name at the same school, you’re going to get compared to your big brother just like any little sibling knows.
The entry of Joey Bosa into the NFL was a polarizing one, with many saying he didn’t deserve to be a top 5 pick and others questioning his personality as “spoiled” or “entitled” and a bit of a jerk.
A holdout with the San Diego Chargers in which he didn’t agree to a contract until August 29th with the team probably didn’t sit well with some fans (despite history technically being on Bosa’s side in the CBA)
Nick Bosa apparently has a similar reputation in cases from some people I’ve spoken to, personally, and his political views are outspoken enough from his Twitter account (just in a different direction than Josh Rosen’s might be, folks).
However, he’s also reportedly a guy who’s passionate enough to eat, sleep and breathe football with a drive and work ethic to improve and be a dominant player in the league versus a kid who “has it all” and doesn’t want more.
Personality aside, not everyone in the NFL is a nice guy or a Calais Campbell. James Harrison, for example. But often it’s those guys you can want on your team rather than against you.
The Cardinals will have to find out in interviews and see what makes him tick if they think they might make a mistake passing on him.
Cause that Joey Bosa brother of his?
Set an NFL record for most sacks in the shortest amount of time after coming into the league.
Think he turned out pretty well, eh?
But there’s a few other contentions and one of them also applies to his brother...
2. Is Nick Bosa injury prone or not?
This is for some, the biggest question of doubt about Nick Bosa, who only played in 3 games in his final season at Ohio State. He tore his ACL in high school and had a core muscle injury during his first time as a full-time starter that wasn’t rotating for OSU.
To some, this might be a death sentence. Especially given Steve Keim missing on D.J. Humphries and Robert Nkemdiche’s availability.
Typically you don’t see a player miss as much time in their last season as he did that goes #1 overall unless it’s a quarterback (and even then, Sam Bradford proved to be made of glass). The Combine, of which he’s promised to run every drill, will be a big test. If he can’t make it through the combine, some might write him off completely. And it’s possible that he might still have injuries or miss time in the league.
As a counter-point, however, I’d like to present two pieces of evidence. The first being that despite the ACL in high school, it had no semblance of impact on his collegiate career, given that he started every game up until his core muscle injury...an injury unrelated to his legs or knees altogether. Durability wasn’t a concern and no games were missed after he stepped foot on the field between that and the 3rd game of his junior season.
Him being fully healthy and doing all the drills when ironically, Quinnen Williams, the other contender for the #1 pick, won’t, is a boost to his case that he can be durable.
The second point is this draft profile on an NFL superstar talent:
A lot of those same question marks some have about Nick Bosa are also true of this prospect in the 2012 NFL draft:
-Knee injury caused to miss games,
-4-3 end only
That player ended up being a first-round pick to the New England Patriots named...Chandler Jones.
That’s right, Chandler Jones himself had “injury” question marks coming out of the draft, but I’d dare you to find a Cardinals fan who has that question about him today. This profile goes to show that there’s really not a lot that we know about what happens when guys get to the league and develop. Nick could flop and be hurt all the time, or he could rise to the heights many believe he should and stay healthy.
If you told Cardinals fans a month ago that one of Bosa or Williams would after Day 1 not be doing all tests, I bet you the majority would have picked Bosa for it when, in actuality...we just don’t know.
#Bama DT Quinnen Williams, one of the top prospects, is being held out of the bench press this week as a precaution because of a finger injury suffered this season, agent Nicole Lynn tells me. Williams will have surgery after the Combine to make sure he’s 100% upon being drafted.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) February 27, 2019
There’s one final knock on him as to why many feel that he’s not worthy:
Nick Bosa’s production is low for a #1 overall pick, relatively speaking
There’s no going two ways about it—the hard stats that Nick Bosa has aren’t typical of a #1 overall pick.
Bosa’s stats over his career are as follows:
29 games played, 47 tackles, 30 assisted, 17.5 sacks, 29 tackles for loss.
In comparison to his brother, Joey, who was a top 3 pick, Joey had 38 games, with 101 tackles, 40 assisted, 26 sacks, 51 Tackles for loss. Nick was a rotational player for his first two seasons before his third season was...cut short. And that’s the big reason why his stats are lower than most #1 picks.
Quite frankly, we haven’t seen someone with a profile like Nick go #1 overall, and when looking at the stats of the other two defensive contenders for the top pick, it’s no wonder that a lot of stat-box and data junkies are feeling cautious:
Quinnen Williams (interior DL numbers): 24 games, 56 tackles, 35 assisted, 8.5 sacks and 10 sacks 26 tackles for loss.
Josh Allen (DE): 42 games, 121 tackles, 99 assisted, 31.5 sacks and 42 tackles for loss.
So it’s a no-brainer, right?
What reason could Nick Bosa have if the production isn’t as good?
Two counter-points I can mention here. The first, and most obvious, is that in the film review of Nick Bosa he’s FAR more of a disruptor and a technician than Josh Allen is with his tools, pass-rushing maneuvers and polish. Think of Allen as a good, sharp knife and Bosa as a honed Swiss-army knife. You’re hoping Allen, who’s a speed rusher, can develop more tools and essentially become a guy like Chandler Jones.
Bosa’s film is already there. The guy who comes closest to him as far as dominance on film IS Quinnen Williams, who had his breakout season as a junior and didn’t hit the field until he was a sophomore.
Both Bosa and Williams had an issue being on stacked teams whereas Allen was the best player the University of Kentucky really had for 4 years...and Bosa still got on the field just as quick.
From the film review, when he played Nick Bosa blew Josh Allen away, and Quinnen, while he was the best player maybe in college football this last season, it was, I think, assured because Nick Bosa wasn’t playing.
The final counter-point to chew on is this: what if Nick Bosa had played in his final season at a similar pace to his first 3 games?
It’s a notable question. Averaging a player’s performance can predict production even if it isn’t perfect.
Nick Bosa through 3 games had 11 tackles, 3 assisted with 6 tackles for loss and 4 sacks.
When looking at that pace for the rest of the year, if he had played, his final stats would look something like this:
Nick Bosa (projected stats): 88 tackles, 33 assisted, 51 tackles for loss and 32 sacks.
Well...that’s really good.
When you put it like that and compare, his film + his stats ultimately exceed Josh Allen’s and put him on par with his brother. Except Nick ties him in tackles for loss and beats him in sack totals by 5 in this projection.
And he would have played in 13 less games than Josh Allen in order to do so.
This is part of why there’s a lot of NFL scouts who do indeed love Nick Bosa because they see the projection and impact when he’s on the field.
But, you DO have to be on the field in order to produce, and Bosa wasn’t. That’s a fact.
So what’s the end result of this?
Is Nick Bosa indeed, an overrated first overall pick?
I don’t think so...but I will fully admit that I might be right or wrong for the following reason:
If Bosa does go #1 overall without a similar profile or comparable stats/playing time he will be one of the first ones to do so. But I don’t think this will be a true outlier in history so much as the beginning of a purveying trend for college athletes.
See, if the NFL was using the OLD Collective Bargaining Agreement, or CBA, then Bosa would be motivated to go back to school, build up the resume to go #1 and prove himself post-injury and make around $50 million in guaranteed money.
With the new CBA? He’ll make closer to $30 million in guaranteed money...that’s like taking a 40% paycut at your job due to new company rules.
Harsh...and it’s had a fallout on the NFL for more and more players declaring sooner to avoid further injury risk in college where they are NOT getting paid to work toward the lucrative 2nd NFL contract.
Joey Bosa left as a junior and negotiated to get a whopping signing bonus from the Chargers up front to secure his future. Nick, in essence, did a similar move and denied himself the opportunity to “prove teams wrong” and come back in the season to get more stats and instead focused on training and getting ready for the draft to work to be picked #1 in a “safer” way.
He won’t be the only one. Ed Oliver had questions if he was playing not to get hurt, and more and more players are neglecting to play in bowl games. Soon enough, I imagine we’ll have a player skip his final season in college if he’s projected as a top 5 NFL draft pick.
Nick Bosa, in my opinion, is just one of the first in this new NFL. And I think it’s his outlier status that has people doubting him as a surefire #1 overall pick.
So do I think he’s overrated?
But I do think that the concerns about his health (the reason he didn’t put up numbers) and his personality are something the Arizona Cardinals will indeed want to prod into.
But make no mistake, his potential and upside is still above the likes of Quinnen Williams and Josh Allen.
All that Arizona has to figure out is if they feel that the cost of him and if he’s healthy against another player (maybe a Kyler Murray?) is worth it.
We’ll get our first clue if Nick Bosa’s is indeed “worth it” later today after all.
At the NFL Combine.
You can follow @blakemurphy7 on Twitter or catch him and more opinions on Nick Bosa and the Arizona Cardinals on the Revenge of the Birds podcast.