Joey Bosa and Noah Spence’s NFL Draft stocks match up favorably, but how are the former Ohio State Buckeyes trending after the combine?
This comparison should hit home for Ohio State fans everywhere.
In the 2012 recruiting class, Urban Meyer landed a commitment from 5-star defensive end Noah Spence. In 2013, Meyer added 5-star defensive end Joey Bosa.
It’s three years later, and the former teammates are in the same conversation as possible top-10 NFL Draft picks. They just took two very different routes to get there.
Off-the-field trouble led to Spence transferring from the Buckeyes to Eastern Kentucky, leaving people to fantasize how much more dominant the Buckeyes’ pass rush could have been if these monsters had shared the same line.
Bosa produced at a high level and was the cornerstone of Ohio State’s national championship in the 2013-2014 season. He was once considered to be the consensus No. 1 overall pick, but team needs have changed. Meanwhile, Spence’s performance at the Senior Bowl has intrigued many teams.
Only one player can win the individual head-to-head battle, so let’s break down their NFL Draft stocks and see how each is trending following the combine.
For the most part, the former Ohio State star has been relatively healthy. As a freshman Bosa appeared in 11 games, and then followed that up with 15 games as a sophomore. Of the 41 total games he played in, Bosa started 37. Aside from the typical bumps and bruises tied to playing such a violent game, he sprained his right foot and missed a couple weeks of practice while he wore a walking boot. NFL teams don’t have to worry about any nagging injuries with him.
Injuries really didn’t hinder Spence in his college career. His biggest obstacle was his own maturity. He played in 11 games as a true freshman with the Buckeyes in 2012, missing the Nebraska game with a minor injury. After starting all 13 games in 2013, Spence failed two drug tests and was declared ineligible for 2014 before transferring to Eastern Kentucky.
The biggest difference between the two is height, where Bosa has three inches over Spence. Both have a solid reach, though Spence does own the slight edge with 33-inch arms. Bosa is heavier and more of a three-point stance rusher, whereas Spence is more of a hybrid edge rusher capable of playing outside linebacker. Both have well-sized hands, which helps them grab offensive linemen’s pads and re-direct them. Spence’s lighter weight allows him get up field quickly with an ability to devastate offensive tackles off the ball and give an inside move.
Bosa ranks in the top five of four major defensive categories for the Buckeyes: quarterback sacks (third with 26), sack yardage (fourth with 177), tackles-for-loss (fourth with 50.5) and TFL yardage (fourth with 247).
Spence played in 35 total games between both programs (six less than Bosa), and he racked up tackles and sacks at the same rate as Bosa. Both averaged about a half sack and 3.6 tackles per game. In his last year with the Buckeyes (2013), Spence recorded the second-most sacks in the Big Ten.
There are lot of attractive qualities about Bosa’s game. Aside from simply firing off the ball with a lightning-fast first step, he has active, mean hands that cause fits for offensive linemen trying to hand fight him. His size and speed allow him to capitalize when offensive linemen start to lean one way. When they do, Bosa clubs them and either rips under or swims past them. On film, it’s like watching a young Jared Allen — similar size and ability.
There isn’t a perfect comparison out there for Spence. When he stands up on the line, he shows flashes of Clay Matthews. They both have similar measurements, except for the fact Matthews’ hands are smaller. When he puts his hand in the dirt, however, Spence looks more like a younger DeMarcus Ware. The speed-rush ability is scary, and a ceiling set as a Matthews-Ware hybrid is worth taking in the top-10 — regardless of his past.
Best Team Fits
Again, Bosa was a near lock to go No. 1 overall, but the Tennessee Titans’ need for an offensive lineman changed that.
Like Bosa, there’s definitely top-10 potential in Spence’s game. Unlike Bosa, Spence isn’t a lock be a top-10 pick. Having the talent and being worth the risk are two different things. Still, Spence is most certainly a top-20 pick.
Joey Bosa – No. 6 overall, Baltimore Ravens
Noah Spence – No. 14 overall, Oakland Raiders