By the time I write this, the Ravens are coming out of their bye week at 2-6. While the players and organization all think that this team can run the table and get a playoff spot, they would be beating a long history to do so. As it looks right now, this is a team that will likely have a top-10 draft selection once the NFL Draft comes up.
While the players that we will be scouting have yet to play their entire season, get in front of the scouting combine, or do a lot of the end of year things that teams look for, we will be checking out the tape on them to see what we see. Typically players that are this far into their season won't suddenly become a stud or won't suddenly become a dud. Even though a lot of teams care too much about the scouting combine results, the Ravens are one of the few that puts tape over measurables, which is what we will do as well.
Joey Bosa - Edge Rusher
6' 6" / 275 pounds
Teams rarely run towards Bosa and it makes sense given the push he gets on the offensive linemen in front of him. Take a look at what he does on this particular play against Hawaii in 2015.
Bosa drives the right tackle back into the quarterback that is taking the snap out of the shotgun, all before the quarterback can throw the ball. The talent in the NFL will be better, but that type of power is impressive and can bottle up runs and close off lanes.
On the next play, you can see that Hawaii had to put 3 people on Bosa on a run to his side and just how dominant he still was.
With 3 guys putting hands on him during the play, Bosa is able to still hold his ground and not get pushed back or out of the way. It makes the running back freeze, allowing the linebackers to scrape down and clean up the mess. Without Bosa there, the running back has room to the outside and with a little vision and speed, could have made a nice gain. Instead, it is a 1 yard gain at best.
In watching 5 games (Hawaii, Michigan State, Rutgers, Penn State, Indiana) of the 2015 season, I can only count opponents running towards Bosa's side 31 times and I can guarantee that there was less than 50 yards gained there. It seemed like there were more runs for losses than there was positive gains.
This is where Bosa excels. For a bigger guy, he shows athleticism and speed to get to the quarterback in a hurry. While he can be thrown off by a fullback coming up to hit him, he routinely blows past anything that isn't a double team.
Against Hawaii, you can see him find the gap to the inside of the right tackle, get off the ball quick enough to put the right tackle in a bad spot and show power to get through an attempted block. He does get chipped by the running back, which slows him down and drives him off his path enough to not get the sack immediately. But he then shows heart and a motor to chase down the quarterback and still lay a hit.
There are times when I see Bosa lose arm fights and allow a lineman to get inside him. Once that happens, he can be redirected rather easily, even if he does have the motor to keep going. You can see here in this play that despite an excellent jump off the ball, he loses the slap fight and the lineman can get to his pads and leverage him out of the play.
Here is the best combination of speed and power I think you'll see from Bosa and is exactly why he is the top talent right now.
Against Rutgers, he goes to the inside on this play to face off against the guard. He is quicker off the line than the guard is, shakes outside, heads inside and uses his strength to push the guard out of the way. The guard has absolutely no idea where Bosa went and it is already too late. It ended up being a running play, but this is what Joey Bosa brings as a pass rusher.. speed and strength.
Ohio State seems to use Bosa very limited in coverage, but the fact that they do toss him out there in the flats gives me hope that he could be a 3-down outside linebacker at the professional level. While none of the passes went his way in the film that I watched, Bosa played a very loose zone coverage and didn't do a great job of finding players near him. He will have to settle down and gain some more awareness in the pros in order to be an adequate true 3-down linebacker that can not only rush the passer, stop the run, but drop into the flats.
The Ravens need a pass rusher, no doubt about it. With outside linebacker Terrell Suggs out for the year with another torn Achilles, he may never return as the same player again. Even if he can, he doesn't have much meaningful playing time left. Drafting a pass rusher that can spend a year learning behind Suggs and Dumervil while playing sparingly will allow the Ravens to have the best chance at turning the Draft's best player into a serious weapon on the defense.
The Ravens would need one of the top-3 picks in order to have a chance at securing Bosa. Many analysts are already saying that Bosa will be off the board to the top pick in the Draft as there are no standout quarterbacks in 2016. With pass rushers being a serious commodity in this league, I'd have to agree with that statement and assume that Bosa is a lock to be a top-3 pick unless injuries or a major character flaw crop up between now and Draft day.
The biggest question for the Ravens is not how athletic or powerful he is, but if he can translate into a stand-up outside linebacker. Bosa has the talent, but the transition from hand in the dirt to standing up has proven tricky for some of the best talent coming out of college. If the Ravens find themselves in a position to select Bosa an they have a little time to let him transition, they will snatch him up in a second.