There is so much pressure for top-five rookies to perform in today’s NFL. That’s regardless of position. If a player doesn’t stack up, fans are quick to turn on him. For the San Francisco 49ers first-round pick Nick Bosa, the main issue has been getting him on the field. Bosa played 55% and 43% of the snaps the first two games after dealing with an ankle injury. He started his first game against the Steelers, where he played 73% of the snaps. I still think we are a game away from seeing a fully healthy Bosa, which is scary considering how productive he’s been.
Pressures are subjective, so it’s tough to put too much stock into that number for me. Pro Football Reference has Bosa down for six hurries. PFF has Bosa charted for 11 rushes. The stat isn’t consistent for a few reasons. I’d guess PFF gave Bosa credit on a couple of screen passes, where PFR didn’t.
PFF has a stat called pass-rushing productivity, which combines sacks, hits, and hurries relative to how many times a player rushed the passer. For all players that have rushed the passer at least 25 times, Bosa has the highest pass-rushing productivity among all edge rushers. Again, that’s not just rookies, that’s all edge rushers.
Bosa’s pass-rushing productivity is 14.0. Myles Garrett’s is 12.8. Khalil Mack’s is 10.0. Demarcus Lawrence has a PRP of 9.2. J.J. Watt has a PRP of 8.0. You get the point. Bosa has been fantastic at getting after the quarterback. He doesn’t have the volume stats as some of the other players because he hasn’t rushed the passer as much. For comparison, Bosa has 68 pass-rushing snaps, while Mack has 115. That’s not the lone reason, though. I have Bosa down for missing four tackles on the quarterback this season. That’s crazy to think about.
Winning is a lot less subjective. For hurries, a quarterback can run into you, or hold onto the ball for four seconds, and gift you a stat. If you focus on a “win,” it’s as simple as it sounds. Did he beat his man? According to PFF’s Austin Gayle, Bosa is leading the way, and it’s not particularly close.
First-round edge defenders pass-rush win rates on passes thrown 2.6+ seconds after the snap (Min. 20 snaps) through Week 3, per @PFF.— Austin Gayle (@PFF_AustinGayle) September 26, 2019
- Nick Bosa (36.1%)
- Josh Allen (26.1%)
- Brian Burns (23.7%)
- Clelin Ferrell (11.8%)
- Montez Sweat (11.4%)
Gayle said league average through three weeks is 20%. Bosa is 16% above the league average win-rate and did so playing the first two games probably around 80-85%. There is no doubt Bosa is a unique talent. I wonder if his injury has anything to do with the lack of finishing, or if this is an issue Bosa needs to fix. His brother came out of the gates hot like this as a rookie as well, and never looked back. Nick is doing a fine job at following in Joey’s footsteps.