Unless you’ve been buried deep under a College Football rock this last week you will have heard the news out of Ohio State that star defensive end Nick Bosa is, well, out of Ohio State. Although this was always going to be his last season as a Buckeye, his decision to leave the programme early to rehab an injury and focus on next year’s NFL draft has opened up a world of questions.
What impact will it have on his draft status? Does it have an impact on Ohio State? What impact does it have for the College game as a whole?
Let me start with this. Nick Bosa is a legit talent. When you watch his tape, you’re instantly blown away by the speed and strength he exhibits. He can burst off the edge, either edge, to take down the quarterback or use his strength to bulldoze through the middle seemingly at ease. With his family history you’d expect nothing less. His Father, John, was a first round draft pick for the Miami Dolphins out of Boston College. Anyone who has even half on eye on the NFL will be aware of brother Joey, the third overall pick in the 2016 draft for the Chargers.
No matter where Nick goes in next year’s draft, his path to it will echo his brother in almost every way. They both played their high school football at St Thomas Aquinas, Florida. Joey came out of there as a four star recruit, Nick came out a five star with multi year all-state honours. They both wound their way to Ohio State, picking up Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year honours three years apart. Their careers for the Buckeyes have seen them both record double digit sack figures, with Nick starting this year’s campaign with four sacks and six tackles for loss in three games. They’ve even spent their college days wearing the same number, the 97 Ohio State jersey has been emblazoned with BOSA since 2013.
Going in to this College Football season there was a general consensus that Nick could be drafted higher than Joey was taken by the Chargers. There was even talk of him being taken first overall. Does either the injury or the decision to not play College ball again effect his draft stock?
There has been a long held opinion that “the longer a player stays in school the easier it is to judge him accurately”. In this instance it’s safe to say that the jury has already returned a verdict on Bosa’s talent, he is guilty of being a premium pass rusher at a time where they are in high demand in the NFL (I’m looking at you Oakland Raiders). Any injury is of course concerning, and NFL teams might have appreciated a look at how well Nick returned from this injury before putting the defensive future of their franchise in his hands. That being said, I don’t see an Aaron Rodgers sized green room wait for Bosa on April 25th.
Case in point, Jadeveon Clowney. He spent his final year of college getting double and triple teamed and it was accused that his effort wained along with his production in order to protect himself for the NFL. He was still taken first overall by the Texans.
Does This Hurt The Buckeyes?
So, we’ve ascertained that Bosa is going to be just fine in April. How does his decision to leave Ohio State early effect the Buckeyes?
Previously when players have decided to skip games to preserve themselves for the NFL it has been for relatively meaningless Bowl games at the end of the season. Head coach Urban Meyer was expecting to have Bosa at his disposal before the season was out. We’re only at the midway point of this season. Ohio State are undefeated and striving to make it to the National Championship Game for the first time since winning it at the end of the 2014 season.
The team has been dominant on offence in the hands of Dwayne Haskins and if there has been one knock on the Buckeyes this year it has been that the defence hasn’t kept up. Without Bosa, the spotlight will fall on Chase Young, Jonathon Cooper and Tyreke Smith. Young has been likened to Bosa with some saying he has the potential to be better. Ohio will need to see all of that potential and more if they’re going to make the final four and challenge the Crimson colossus that is Alabama.
The College Game Impact
The biggest impact that all of this story could have is on College Football as a whole. There is no financial reward for putting your body on the line for the NCAA. There is lots of adulation from the hoards of fans that fill the stadiums on a Saturday and from the towns and cities that they represent. Cheerleaders will dance and fans will scream your name. But that will not pay the bills. In recent years it has become a growing trend to skip games towards the end of your college career in order to protect the body for the NFL. One bad tackle, one bad injury can make millions of dollars difference. In Nick Bosa’s case, it could be a $100 million business decision.
Clowney. Fournette. McCaffrey. Ward. Chubb. James.
All players that in very recent times either skipped Bowl games or were encouraged to miss their entire season in order to ensure they made safe passage to the NFL. At the end of 2015 season, Peyton Barber decided to forego his final two years of college eligibility and enter the 2016 Draft. At the time it was claimed that his mother was homeless and it was the only thing he could do to try and contribute financially. Although greatly exaggerated, it did shed light on the difference getting on an NFL team can make to a players life, even as an undrafted free agent.
If the trend continues to grow, could we see the NCAA be forced in to looking at paying players in order to keep the highest quality amongst them in the game? Or will we see more players choosing to sit out their final year and rely on the reputation they’ve already built to get them their NFL pay day.
Either way, we won’t see Nick Bosa on the football field until he steps out at Lucas Oil Stadium for the NFL Combine.
photo credit: USA Today Sports