As Denver Broncos Super Bowl MVP Von Miller reminded us yet again, there’s perhaps no more impactful player on a football field than an unstoppable pass-rusher — more so even than a star quarterback like Cam Newton.
As NFL teams turn their attention toward this spring’s draft they’ll undoubtedly be looking for the next great sack artist. The leading contender at this point is former Ohio State star Joey Bosa.
Mind you, the 6-foot-5, 278-pound Bosa is a traditional defensive end, not an edge linebacker like Miller, but he spent the past three seasons blowing up opposing offensive lines. And while it’s always difficult to project which college stars will excel at the next level, his former college coach — who has considerable experience with future NFL stars — made an eye-opening comment last week about his former pupil.
"I’ve been lucky to coach Alex Smith, who was the No. 1 pick, [Tim] Tebow, Zeke [Ezekiel Elliott] … the Pounceys, all these great players," Meyer said. "It’s hard for me not to say Joey is not the best I’ve ever coached or been around."
If you read that right, Meyer is elevating Bosa above a former No. 1 pick, a former Heisman winner, two first-round offensive linemen and the undisputed MVP of Ohio State’s 2014 national title run. Not to mention, he’s also coached a slew of other college All-Americans and/or future NFL standouts such as Percy Harvin, Brandon Spikes, Joe Haden, Reggie Nelson, Ryan Shazier and Bradley Roby. He’s even coached three former first- or second-round defensive ends, Carlos Dunlap, Derrick Harvey and Jarvis Moss.
Clearly he thinks Bosa will be the best of the bunch.
"He had the unique combination of just incredible power and strength and speed," Meyer said, "but also, I call it getting skinny. He was able to turn sideways, and the offensive line had such a hard time blocking him."
As a sophomore in 2014, Bosa notched 13.5 sacks and 21 tackles for loss, becoming the Big Ten defensive player of the year and a unanimous All-American. His production dipped last season to five sacks and 16 TFLs, but largely due to constant double-teams. The Buckeyes still fielded a top 10 defense and went 12-1.
In his most recent mock draft, FOX Sports’ Peter Schrager had Bosa going No. 3 overall to the San Diego Chargers, as the Titans (Ole Miss T Laremy Tunsil) and Browns (QB Carson Wentz) above them have bigger needs on offense. But as Miller proved, going No. 2 or behind a star quarterback doesn’t preclude you from becoming the Super Bowl MVP.
Stewart Mandel is a senior college sports columnist for FOXSports.com. He covered college football and basketball for 15 years at Sports Illustrated. You can follow him on Twitter@slmandel and Facebook. Send emails and Mailbag questions to Stewart.Mandel@fox.com.