"Just to be able to come into this league my first year and dominate and just play at the level I'm playing, and just kind of get these honors already as a rookie, it means a lot.”
– Ezekiel Elliott, as reported by Barry Wilner (Associated Press)
With the regular season now wrapped up and playoff football starting this weekend, it’s now time to dish out the season awards. The Associated Press unveiled their All-Pro team, and with little surprise, former Ohio State Buckeye Ezekiel Elliott made the list.
The Dallas Cowboy rookie led the league in rushing, and was instrumental in the Cowboys securing the No. 1 overall seed in the NFC. In addition to Elliott, four other Cowboys received votes for the All-Pro team — which makes sense as ‘America’s Team’ compiled a stunning 13-3 record, won the NFC East and clinched home field advantage throughout the playoffs.
There were a couple of other Buckeyes that received votes, too. New England Patriots special team player and Team USA olympian Nate Ebner came within two votes of defeating teammate Matthew Slater for a spot on the All-Pro special teams unit. Slater had 14 votes, while Ebner had 12.
Even though he missed a handful of games at the beginning of the season, Joey Bosa received one vote for edge pass rusher. That category was stacked with talent, with Khalil Mack taking home the honors with a whopping 46 votes.
While Bosa only received one vote for the All-Pro team, he showed his ability to be a dominate force in the NFL for years to come.
“He did not tease pass-rush ability; he pressured and sacked quarterbacks too consistently to tease. He did not give glimpses against the run; too often, he set the edge while tying for the NFL lead with 17 tackles for loss.”
– Michael Gehlken on Joey Bosa (San Diego Union-Tribune)
Bosa may not have gotten on the All-Pro team, but he will be a heavy favorite for the AP’s Rookie Defensive Player of the Year award. The résumé Bosa amassed during the 2016 campaign is worthy enough for him to claim the honor — and make him the third San Diego Charger to bring home the award.
Missing four games due to a hamstring injury, Bosa hit a double-digit sack total (10.5) and tied the lead for tackles for loss (17). For a rookie, the 10.5 sacks registered is in-between the two other Chargers that won the rookie of the year honor. Shawne Merriman had 10 sacks and Leslie O’Neal had 12.5. If the former Buckeye didn’t miss the beginning part of the season, then it would be a safe assumption to believe that Bosa would’ve eclipsed O’Neal’s 12.5 record.
Against the Kansas City Chiefs, Michael Gehlken broke down some of the plays that pointed to the fact that Joey Bosa has arrived on the NFL scene.
These 4 plays from Chargers DE Joey Bosa came in 5-snap span Sunday. As a rookie, he arrived. https://t.co/hkmFVhrFk9 pic.twitter.com/dLGEtKmzoe— Michael Gehlken (@sdutGehlken) January 6, 2017
Even though the Chargers will have a new coach for next season, don’t expect the Bosa train to stop anytime soon. Gehlken’s article cited now-former Chargers head coach Mike McCoy saying that Bosa “is somebody who absolutely loves to play the game”.
“A few announcements remain, and there will likely be one or two more departures. However, Ohio State remains in great shape overall. The Buckeyes already had a small senior class, and they won’t lose too many underclassmen.”
– Ryan Ginn, Landof10.com
Between Elliott and Bosa, they were two Buckeyes who left college early and became instant successes in the NFL. In the hallmark 2016 class that departed Ohio State, new faces emerged and became playmakers under the spotlight. Now, with under two weeks until the underclassman declaration deadline for the NFL, the Bucks seem to have lost talent – but not like last year.
In fact, the Buckeyes are fine; actually, they are more than fine.
Ryan Ginn of Landof10.com broke down the situation Ohio State faces next year in terms of what faces will still be in Columbus. Right now, quarterback J.T. Barrett and offensive lineman Billy Price are set to return to the team. One the other side of the ball, Sam Hubbard and Tyquan Lewis highlight the silver bullet defense.
At this time last year, there was almost an identity crisis on what the future of Buckeye football would be like. The 2016 campaign featured almost an entirely new team, and yet, the Buckeyes marched through the regular season with an 11-1 record and found themselves in the College Football Playoff for the second time in three seasons.
There are still a few Buckeyes who need to make their decision on whether or not to stay or go to the NFL, but, as Ginn pointed out in his article, the Buckeyes already won the offseason by not having a complete overhaul on both sides of the ball.
Combined with arguably the best recruiting class in OSU history, the Buckeyes should be alright for another playoff run next season.
Stick to Sports
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• Apple CEO Tim Cook fell short of getting max pay incentives in 2016.
• Scary scene at the Ft. Lauderdale airport on Friday afternoon.