PFF put together a list of the 25 bests players regardless of position who will be under 25 by Week 1 of the 2020 NFL season. They said the list was meant to recognize young players who figure to be the face of the game for years to come. The list takes into account PFF’s grades, signature stats, and team impact over the course of the players’ respective NFL career.
The San Francisco 49ers had the youngest player on the list. Nick Bosa came in at No. 10:
Age at kickoff: 22 years, 10 months, 18 days
Bosa did things as a rookie that we haven’t seen since the PFF era began in 2006. His 80 total pressures in 2019 were the most recorded by a rookie in the PFF era, easily beating out Aldon Smith’s previous record of 64 in 2011. His 17.2% pressure rate trailed only his brother, Joey Bosa, and the aforementioned Smith among rookies with 250 or more pass-rushing snaps over that same time frame. His numbers weren’t just impressive compared to rookies, either. Bosa’s 89.8 overall grade in 2019 ranked third among all edge defenders. It would’ve been hard to draw up a better debut for the Ohio State product.
The only lineman on either side of the ball that’s ranked higher than Bosa was Myles Garrett from the Browns, who had even higher expectations than Bosa coming out of college. Garrett was ranked No. 9 on the list.
Bosa being as productive as he was despite seeing extra attention during the second half, was more impressive than seven sacks in seven games to start his career off, in my opinion. With the talent on the defensive line, the NFL was always going to find out the hard way that Bosa is a special player.
Fair or not, Bosa will need to continue to improve and progress as a player. There were rookie mistakes such as biting on play-fakes, getting out of his gaps and playing a bit out of control. Those were my rookie critiques for Bosa. Once he improves on his tackling and plays more gap sound, lookout.