We’re very much in the “too early” stage of the 2019 NFL Draft, but is that going to stop us from talking about our favorite players who will be featured this college football season? Absolutely not. Will the lists and tier rankings of players stop? If anything, you’ll just see more as time goes on.
Not every fan will agree with my rankings, and not every fan wants these articles put on their timeline, but the fact of the matter is that there’s plenty to talk about when it comes to the 2019 NFL Draft-eligible players already. As we all know, there’s more to football than just the quarterback. For this season, there are going to be three players that you hear a ton of information on. There will be multiple highlights compiled, and ultimately, all three of them could be playing their final season of college football this year.
Those three players are Nick Bosa, Rashan Gary, and Ed Oliver, three defensive linemen who have a range of skills and know exactly what they’re doing when they’re matching up against the opposition. All three of these players are already projected in the top 10 of next year’s draft, and today I want to showcase why that’s going to happen. I don’t make a lot of guarantees, but these three players have the skillsets that teams picking in the top 10 covet in a defensive lineman.
The Man With The Plan: Nick Bosa, Ohio State
Out of the three players, we’re going to talk about, nobody develops a plan better than Nick Bosa. He’s a high-motor guy that can rush inside or outside, and he’s not stopping until he gets his hands on the quarterback. On the play below, you can see he starts his initial rush outside. However, he plants off of his right foot and quickly gets inside leverage on the offensive lineman. Simply by using an “arm over” technique, he gets into the backfield and causes pressure on Sam Darnold.
The quarterback uses his pocket mobility to get himself free from the pressure, but when talking about the technique, Bosa consistently uses proper technique when rushing the quarterback and stopping the run.
For example, here’s Bosa sacking the quarterback with the most common technique, club and rip. During his pass rush, you’ll notice his right arm (outside arm) is free. That’s incredibly important when rushing the quarterback as a defensive end because if your outside shoulder isn’t free, you can’t club or swipe the offensive lineman’s hands away from your chest plate. Once he clubs, he rips up and through with his inside arm. This allows him perfect clearance to the quarterback, and it leads to a huge defensive touchdown for the Buckeyes.
Many people will compare Nick Bosa to his brother, Joey. There are a lot of similarities in their games, like showing relentless effort on every play. They also do the little things right, which gives them big opportunities to make plays for their defenses.
As for Nick Bosa, he’s got all the talent to become a top-10 pick when the 2019 NFL Draft comes around. He consistently has proper technique and, with 23 tackles for loss and 13.5 sacks, there’s a strong chance that he can match his career totals in his junior year. Going into the 2018 college football season, no pass rusher develops a plan better than Nick Bosa.
The Never-Ending Motor: Ed Oliver, Houston
I talked about how Nick Bosa consistently shows relentless effort. That may be true, but nobody has a higher motor than Ed Oliver. What does motor mean? In football, it means a player that doesn’t stop. He goes one hundred percent, one hundred percent of the time. He takes the proper pursuit angles and is always moving. That’s what it means in football, and in the 2019 NFL Draft, nobody does it better than Ed Oliver.
As you can tell from the play above, Oliver is an alien — just out of this world. Oliver plays as a nose tackle; he doesn’t create any pressure, but when the quarterback escapes the pocket, Oliver stays with him. He takes the proper pursuit angle and gets upfield to tackle the quarterback and create a turnover. For young defensive linemen, this is why it’s so important to stay with the play and keep trucking upfield — you never know what could happen.
If that one play didn’t excite you, that’s fine, there’s plenty more. Here’s another example of Oliver in pursuit and displaying his high motor ability. Not only does he showcase his high motor, but also take a look at his mental processing. He realizes that this was going to be a screen play right away and gets on his horse and gets upfield. Out of all the defensive linemen I’ve watched and coached, nobody moves as fast or fluid in the open field as Ed Oliver.
Incredible Upside: Rashan Gary, Michigan
This will be an unpopular opinion to many, but I’ll shout it anyway. If I were to rank these three defensive linemen, Rashan Gary would be ranked third. Personally, I think he plays out of position on the Michigan defense. Do I know more than their defensive coordinator? Not in a million years, but Rashan Gary will have more success as an interior defensive lineman than as a defensive end in the NFL.
More often than not, Gary is going to rush as a defensive end. He provides the Michigan defense with enough versatility to loop inside and pressure the quarterback. On the play below, he does just that. He’s on the outside shoulder of the right tackle (five-technique) and loops around into the A-gap. Thanks to the pressure he puts on the quarterback, the pass is bad and is intercepted by the cornerback. The outside linebacker (#36 – Devin Gil) does a great job transitioning speed-to-power on the tight end, as well.
Becoming more consistent will be the key for Rashan Gary this season. On the first play, he bends down the line of scrimmage and crosses the face of the tight end to come over the top of the running back. As a defensive lineman, getting to heel’s depth of the offensive line and preventing the tight end from washing you out of the play is always key. However, on the next play, Gary crosses the face of the offensive tackle, doesn’t use his hands, and doesn’t sustain any sort of leverage. This prevents him from getting to the heels of the offensive line and bending down the line of scrimmage properly.
Through two years at Michigan, Gary only has six sacks but does have 16.5 tackles for loss. Despite being the top-ranked player out of high school, his impact on the Wolverines has been merely average. He has played in the shadows of players such as Maurice Hurst, but the training wheels are off, and Gary has incredible upside. This 2018 season is the year that he should be able to put everything together and solidify himself as a top-10 prospect in the 2019 NFL Draft.