Why Ohio State’s Joey Bosa is the nation’s best defensive lineman

When we first kicked off our College Football Playoff draft discussion, I cringed when I heard Stew — who had the first overall pick — start talking about how important defensive linemen are. I agree, and then I breathed a sigh of relief and shrugged when he declared he was picking Alabama’s A’Shawn Robinson, another D-lineman I really liked but not the top guy on my board, at No. 1.

My top guy was Joey Bosa from Ohio State, a 6-foot-6, 275-pounder who enters his junior season after winning Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year honors and helping spark the Buckeyes to the national title last year.

Bosa led the Big Ten in tackles for loss (21.0) and quarterback sacks (13.5) and tied for the conference lead with four forced fumbles. According to OSU staff, Bosa’s big plays in the opposing backfield led to 37 points last season. 

"He’s as good as advertised as you see on film," one Big Ten O-line coach told me. "He’s very explosive. He’s physical at the point of attack in the run game, and he’s a very skilled pass rusher."

In just two seasons, he’s played 29 games and racked up 21 sacks and 34.5 TFLs — and the real scary part is he’s just getting warmed up.

Asked what makes Bosa such a special player, one Buckeye staffer explained it this way: "It starts with him being very talented. He’s big, strong and very athletic for his size, and he has a very quick first step. The biggest thing that he changed that made him great (last season) was the use of his hands. He’s violent with his hands and does a great job of defeating blocks. He’s really improved his pass-rush technique this past season also."

Better yet, he’s a winner. Before arriving in Columbus, he led St. Thomas Aquinas to the Florida Class 7A state championship. And in two seasons since Bosa arrived, the Buckeyes have won 26 games.

To me, the high-energy guy from Florida was an ideal building block to start a college defense.

(And how many other D-linemen can do this):

Bruce Feldman is a senior college football reporter and columnist for FOXSports.com and FOX Sports 1. He is also a New York Times Bestselling author. His new book, The QB: The Making of Modern Quarterbacks, came out in October, 2014. Follow him on Twitter @BruceFeldmanCFB.