At this point, it’s not even really a question.
Everyone assumes that this will be Nick Bosa’s last year in Columbus. He would’ve probably been a first-round pick had he been eligible to enter the NFL draft as a sophomore, too. Instead, the system made him wait an extra year to inevitably cash in on tens of millions of dollars.
But there’s a different question that I have about Bosa. And no, it isn’t whether he’s better than his brother Joey or not. All I know is that both are extremely impressive players who have been terrorizing B1G offenses for what feels like the last decade.
My question about the younger Bosa is if he’s the new face of the B1G.
Has Bosa, who will enter his third year in Columbus, already amassed that kind of popularity nationwide to the point where he’s the first name you think of when asked to name a B1G player? Sure, Bosa had a leg up on the competition because his brother dominated before he ever stepped on campus. Playing for a program like Ohio State gave him another advantage.
Does that give Bosa the nod? Let’s dig into that.
Yesterday, I examined the case for Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley to be considered the face of the B1G. He plays the most recognizable position on the field, he’s been a superstar the last two years and he’s already all over the Penn State record books.
Those are three things that Bosa cannot claim. Part of that is because of the talent the Buckeyes had on the defensive line. Between Tyquan Lewis, Jalyn Holmes, Sam Hubbard and Dre’Mont Jones, Ohio State was loaded with talent up front the last two years, all of which were older than Bosa. With a rotation like that, the Buckeyes didn’t need him to be an every-down player.
Still, though, it’s not his production was significantly diminished.
After earning true freshman All-America honors in 2016, Bosa followed up that season by posting team-highs in tackles for loss (16.5) and sacks (8.5) en route to B1G Defensive Lineman of the Year honors. He closed 2017 by recording sacks in four of Ohio State’s final five games.
Bosa was disruptive even when he didn’t blow the play up in the backfield. According to Pro Football Focus, he finished with the second-most QB pressures among all edge rushers in college football last year. That’s not bad for anyone, much less a second-year player.
It’s for those reasons that Bosa will be on every preseason All-America team you can find. And if he isn’t, whoever came up with the list probably just made an honest mistake.
Amazingly enough, Bosa’s production should increase without the likes of Lewis, Holmes and Hubbard around anymore. Bosa will still work alongside extremely talented defensive linemen like Jones, Chase Young and Jonathon Cooper, but it’s clear who the best playmaker among the bunch is.
Nick Bosa is now wanted in the state of Oklahoma. pic.twitter.com/XnSZH1FcFX
— Eleven Warriors (@11W) September 10, 2017
Bosa will be at the top of every scouting report and draft board out there. Offenses could easily try and do what they did to his brother his junior year. That is, either run away from him or triple-team him. There’s a chance that neither of those plans work.
There’s a decent chance that Bosa winds up being a top-five pick in the 2019 NFL draft. Seeing the elder Bosa dominate in the NFL after some pre-draft doubts surfaced will mitigate the risk in selecting the younger Bosa. That doesn’t guarantee he’ll replicate that success, but it does add to the argument that we’re discussing now.
Heading into 2018, one could argue that because of his production, his name and his school, Bosa is the most recognizable defensive player in the country. That’s not to say that he’s undoubtedly better than Dexter Lawrence or Ed Oliver, but Bosa is the only one from that group with all three of those factors in his favor. Barring an injury, that’s not changing anytime soon. The Buckeyes will continue to be in the spotlight, and Bosa will be the one leading the charge.
He could be the unanimous face of the B1G by regular season’s end if Ohio State can earn a Playoff spot. That would certainly give him the edge over other B1G stars like McSorley, Jonathan Taylor or anyone else who could join this discussion.
So is Bosa the face of the B1G in 2018? I wouldn’t have a problem saying that.
And if he’s not, I definitely don’t want to be the one to tell him.