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Can Nick Bosa live up to the early draft hype?

The Buckeye has a long family legacy to live up to, but he’s got the talent to do so.

NCAA Football: Michigan State at Ohio State Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

At Ohio State, No. 97 has been worn by a Bosa every season since 2013. First, Buckeye Nation was introduced to Joey, the older brother of a super talented high school star, Nick. We didn’t get them on the same team at the same time, but Joey started a legacy that his brother was more than willing and able to continue when the torch was passed.

(I’m still bitter we didn’t one year of the “Bosa Bash Brothers” in Columbus, but I digress.)

Now, heading into what everyone assumes will be Nick’s final season at OSU, there’s already a huge conversation surrounding the younger Bosa brother being the top prospect in the 2019 NFL Draft class.

It seems pretty early to be assessing draft prospects who haven’t even played a regular season snap this year, but with Bosa it’s a perceived lock that he’ll be one of the first — if not the first — picks. Sure, his brother’s success in his first two seasons in the NFL gives scouts an idea of what Nick will be capable of, but a lot of the hype is based on the younger Buckeye’s performance on the field and sky-high potential.

So, with 8 months (!) before the actual 2019 NFL Draft, will Nick Bosa be able to stay at the top of the class? The scouts certainly think so.

What the Scouting Reports say

Over at the newly debuted The Draft Network, they’ve already started breaking down the 2019 draft class and to little surprise, started with taking a closer look at Nick Bosa.

Kyle Crabbs had the following impression of the Buckeye:

PROS: Superb refinement in attack of blockers. Shows deliberate usage of hands for initial stab and has needed strength to stack up blockers at the point of attack. Functional strength is present to sustain gap control when tasked with playing in the B-gap, suggesting scheme diversity is viable. Has success in attacking tackles on both short and deeper pass sets, showing ability to process angles while on the move and subsequently react to the technique of blocker. Has had productive start to college career, showing ability to finish rushes with strength and closing burst. Very pro-ready prospect who entering 2018 campaign should be considered a plug and play starter thanks to advanced development.

CONS: Lacks elite juice out of stance, although snap anticipation has regularly aided in winning around the corner. Transitional quickness in lateral situations up and down the line can leave something to be desired at times.

Similarly, draft analyst Jon Ledyard had a lot of pros to note for Bosa:

PROS: Strong get-off. Explodes off the snap and gains a lot of ground in his first few steps. Takes great angles to the pocket, getting his hips and feet pointed to the quarterback early in the rep. Pad level is exquisite at the top of the arc, great forward lean into his rush and out-reached his opponent consistently. Devastating hand usage with incredible raw power. Can displace tackles with a long arm, bull rush, cross chop or club on any given rush. Deep arsenal of moves and recognizes when to counter inside. Trims the edge with hand usage at top of the arc. Ankle bend to really tilt the corner. Motor is non-stop. Extremely physical.

CONS: Not super bendy in the hips. First step timing can be off, resulting in some late get-offs. Pad level can swell as a run defender, not due to flexibility, just a lack of attention to detail. Can get caught over-pursuing in the open field, needs to throttle down to make stops at times.

The Joey-Nick comparison

There are more similarities between the two brothers, both on and off the football field, than you’ll find difference. Sure, Joey is the bigger brother — by an inch — but Nick has proven that he is just as powerful.

Some of the traits lauded by scouts back during Joey’s draft can also be seen in Nick.

Thanks to the litany of talent Ohio State boasts on defense, players have had to accept a pretty deep rotation, which means fewer snaps for Nick than his brother had. Competing for playing time makes being versatile even more important, but this kind of movement along the line increases their value at the next level and allows more teams to consider Bosa as a plug-and-play type defender who can adjust to different schemes quickly.

Stat Comparison Years 1 and 2

Stats Joey Bosa Nick Bosa
Stats Joey Bosa Nick Bosa
Yr 1: Tackles 42 29
Yr 1: Tackles for Loss 13.5 7
Yr 1: Sacks 7.5 5
Yr 2: Tackles 55 34
Yr 2: Tackles for Loss 21.5 16
Yr 2: Sacks 13.5 8.5

On paper, it seems like Joey pretty significantly out-performed his brother, but in the years between the two suiting up for Ohio State, the team’s defensive scheme has shifted focus from taking down the quarterback to getting their hands on the ball. But even with Nick having more teammates to compete with for playing time, the younger Buckeye has still managed to stick out.

Nick has really grown as an interior defender, and with careful attention to hand placement, is often able to best his opposition to put hands on the quarterback.

As Kyle Crabbs of The Draft Network explains in his comparison of the two brothers:

Both Bosa brothers tout great functional strength, prototypical build, effective and deliberate hands and sudden reaction skills to mirror the ball regardless of the game situation.

And when able to compare the college resumes of both players, finding differences between the two is a matter of splitting hairs. Joey was a touch more powerful, but Nick appears to be a bit looser as an edge rusher. Watching both players closely will generate the sensation that they’ll end up testing similar athletically as well.

Based on all of the information that we have heading into the 2018 regular season, Nick Bosa should continue to shine on an already-impressive defense. Nick’s potential to be the best Bosa has been touted since his high school days — and even by Joey — but this season is his opportunity to confirm what we’ve all been thinking.

With Joey being the No. 3 draft pick a couple years back, the brotherly competition should mean Nick is clamoring to get taken No. 1 or 2.