Heading into the 2018 college football season, it seemed the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NFL draft had already been decided.
Ohio State pass rusher Nick Bosa was projected as a better prospect than even his older brother, Joey, who was picked third overall by the Los Angeles Chargers in the 2016 NFL draft.
But after a 2018 campaign cut short by injury, many have wondered whether or not Bosa deserves to be this year’s top pick.
After all, there are other elite defenders in this class. Alabama’s Quinnen Williams is this year’s most disruptive, dominant interior defender, and Kentucky’s Josh Allen was a dominant force off the edge last year, racking up 17 sacks against SEC competition.
And then there are the quarterbacks. While Bosa wasn’t able to finish his 2018 season, Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray set the college football world on fire, winning a Heisman Trophy, picking football over baseball, and now getting rumored as a potential No. 1 overall pick to a team that just spent a top-10 pick on a quarterback last year.
While other prospects have been making headlines on the field since Bosa left it back in September, the Buckeyes’ stud edge defender has seemingly faded into the background. Even so, he has quietly remained the best overall player in this draft.
At 6-4, 266 pounds, Bosa has the ideal frame for an NFL edge defender. His complete skill set makes him a scheme-versatile prospect who can attack opposing offenses from any alignment. While he may lack the elite athleticism or explosiveness of other edge rushers in this class, Bosa more than makes up for it with polished technique, toughness, and a nonstop motor.
While Allen’s eye-popping numbers or the dominant combine performances of Mississippi State’s Montez Sweat and Florida State’s Brian Burns are enticing, when you go back to the actual game tape, one is quickly reminded that Bosa is the most complete player of the group.
Detractors will point to Joey Bosa’s injury history, wondering if Nick’s early exit and premature end to his college career is a signal that he could follow a similar path in the pros. They might also wonder about the younger Bosa’s business decision to shut himself down the for the rest of 2018 in order to prepare himself for the draft, rather than potentially returning to the Buckeyes as they made a playoff push down the stretch.
To pass on him for any of those reasons would be a monumental mistake.
Bosa’s core muscle injury isn’t the kind of injury that typically shortens an NFL career, and after watching him go through drills at the combine, he already looks like he’s back to full strength. This isn’t something that should linger, and it certainly shouldn’t impact his draft stock.