Can Chase Young really be better than the Bosa brothers?

Chase Young could be better than.0 - Can Chase Young really be better than the Bosa brothers?Chase Young, like Joey and Nick Bosa before him, is the next Ohio State pass rusher to be a top-three pick.

Chase Young, like the Bosas, was a star pass rusher at Ohio State before being drafted by Washington at No. 2 overall — and his ceiling might be the highest of all three.

Chase Young was drafted by Washington with the second overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. Here’s what we had to say about him before he was selected.

In 2016, the Chargers struck gold when they drafted Joey Bosa with the third overall pick. Three years later, the 49ers did the same when they took Nick Bosa second overall. The same is expected this year when Washington likely selects Chase Young with the second overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.

These three are connected beyond being top-flight pass rushers. They all starred at Ohio State, where they were taught by legendary defensive line coach Larry Johnson. Young will be compared to both Bosa brothers for a long while, and for good reason.

Washington receiver Terry McLaurin had the honor of playing with the three pass rushers at Ohio State, and he thinks Young has the highest ceiling of all of them.

“I’ve seen them all,” McLaurin said. “In college, I felt like Chase was the most productive of the three, and he has the chance to possibly be the best. That doesn’t take anything away from [Joey and Nick]. That just tells you how good he can be.”

Along with being only the fourth defensive lineman to ever be named a Heisman finalist, Young is also the consensus top prospect in the draft. There was never any doubt about this, either. Young went “wire-to-wire as the best NFL prospect from the beginning of the college football season to the start of the draft,” according to SB Nation draft expert Dan Kadar.

If Young is on the same level as the Bosas, his value cannot be overstated. We saw Nick’s play in the 49ers’ run to the Super Bowl, while Joey has been consistently great since he entered the league. Both Bosa brothers won NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year honors, and have combined for 49 sacks since turning pro.

Young has a lot to live up to if he is going to match, let alone surpass, those two. Is it realistic to expect that? Let’s investigate.

Young was more productive in college, but not by much

The important thing to remember about all three pass rushers is that they’re pretty similar players. They’re all physically built to destroy offensive linemen.

Here are their listed height and weights from the NFL Combine:

  • Joey Bosa: 6’5, 269 pounds
  • Nick Bosa: 6’4, 266 pounds
  • Chase Young: 6’5, 264 pounds

Looking at their actual physiques, we can find a few differences. Both Bosa brothers have their weight and muscles distributed well across their entire frames, while Young is bulkier up top with a skinnier lower body.

That lack of mass in his lower body could make it easier to cut block Young — if he wasn’t so dang quick at side-stepping opponents. He clearly has a step on Nick and Joey when it comes to quickly changing the direction of his lower body as a result of the lack of mass there.

Gif 02 New - Can Chase Young really be better than the Bosa brothers?

Notably, Young added 25 pounds to his frame between his first and second years in college. There’s still room for him to bulk up his lower body if it ever becomes an issue, but for now it’s an asset.

This is how their college stats stack up:

  • Joey Bosa: 26 sacks, 51 tackles for loss, 5 forced fumbles (38 games)
  • Nick Bosa: 17.5 sacks, 29 tackles for loss, 2 forced fumbles (29 games)
  • Chase Young: 30.5 sacks, 40.5 tackles for loss, 9 forced fumbles (34 games)

Nick’s stats were hurt because the bulk of his final season was wiped out due to injury. Still, the stats are fairly comparable across the board. What we can see is that Young is just a bit more productive overall, and his forced fumbles give a glimpse at his playmaking ability.

Young is coming off one of the best pass-rushing seasons ever graded at Pro Football Focus, posting a pass-rush grade of 96.5 with a win rate of 27.2 percent. To compare, Nick posted a win rate of 28 percent in his freshman season, and a total win rate of 25.5 percent with a 93.6 pass-rushing grade while with the Buckeyes. Joey’s numbers were slightly lower, with a 21.7 percent win-rate and a 93.0 grade while at Ohio State.

Those are ridiculous numbers and especially relevant when it comes to grading pass rushers. They’re a much better indication of productivity than pure sacks, and shows just how close these three are.

By the end of his final season, Young was drawing double-teams from offensive linemen, and was still getting chipped by a tight end or a running back. He was effectively being triple-teamed down the stretch, which is more than we can say (by and large) about the Bosas.

The biggest reason for that is likely how fast Young can adjust his thinner lower body to avoid a block. If he’s running around your offensive tackles, you have to put a tight end or a running back in there.

Last season, Young had 16.5 sacks through his first nine games but was held without a sack in his final three. There’s a good explanation why: teams completely sold out on blocking him.

That’s a team dedicating around 800 pounds of beef to stopping one man, and he still led the nation in sacks. Yeah, this guy is a pain to block.

Young and the Bosas share similar skillsets, with small differences

The three are similar on the stat sheet, they are all are capable of beating offensive linemen with speed or power moves, and they all have lightning-quick hands.

Young can’t quite match the Bosas, particularly Nick, when it comes to outright plowing through offensive linemen, though. Despite possessing plenty of quickness and speed moves of his own, Nick spent his rookie NFL season bulldozing them over and over. Joey takes a similar approach.

Below are three main traits of each and how they compare between them.

Joey Bosa

  • The strongest of the three, he does not get pushed around and sets the edge better than most
  • A deep arsenal of pass-rushing moves, led by one of the best swipe-and-rip moves in the league
  • Excellent hand work thanks to his technique, even if he’s a bit slower (and bigger) than the other two

Check out Joey shedding a blocker and preventing the running back from getting to the edge:

Joey - Can Chase Young really be better than the Bosa brothers?

Joey relies on his strength more than his speed, even if his bullrush isn’t quite as overwhelming as Nick’s. He is the most polished of the three and has the ability to hold the edge.

Really, there aren’t any film concerns with Joey. He’s refined, his role is well-defined, and he’s in the prime of his career. The main hindrance to his production thus far have been injuries, as he missed four games in his rookie season and nine games in 2018.

Nick Bosa

  • Can be a speed rusher when he needs to be, but has a bullrush unequaled by Young or his brother
  • The best hands of all three from a technique perspective
  • His signature side-scissor speed move is violent and downright unfair

You can see Nick’s bullrush on full display here:

Bosa 01 - Can Chase Young really be better than the Bosa brothers?

Nick is a speed rusher, or at least that’s what he was billed as coming out of college. But in the NFL, he spent much of his time running people over. Whether that’s due to coaching, a change in his preferences, or just him sticking to what was working is anybody’s guess. What’s easy to see, though, is that he’s still a deadly speed rusher when he needs to be.

His hand fighting at the line is excellent, like his brother’s, and better than Young’s. Nick’s primary issue coming out of college was he occasionally showcased a “lazy arm,” which is when the pass rusher doesn’t finish a block with his inside arm. That generally leads to the offensive lineman successfully pulling the pass rusher all the way around as said rusher just misses the quarterback with his outside arm.

Fortunately for Nick, he already improved in that area down the stretch in his rookie campaign. Watching the film, you can see it happening less as the season progressed. That’s really his biggest flaw as a player, and he’ll be pretty dang refined if he continues to clean that up.

Chase Young

  • Can play everywhere: edge, three-tech, five-tech, even puts effort into dropbacks
  • Extremely hard to cut block because his lower body is so fluid, can sidestep anything
  • Burst off the line unequaled by either Bosa brother, meaning his speed moves can easily be the best of the bunch

Below, you can see Young’s burst on display:

Gif 08 - Can Chase Young really be better than the Bosa brothers?

Young comes out of this clearly having the step up on both Bosa brothers in speed and burst, as well as his ability to change angles with his thinner lower body. That alone will carry him a long way.

There are still things he needs to work on, of course. Young needs to develop a high-level spin move, which is something he rarely used in college, as noted by retired defensive end Stephen White in his scouting report on Young.

On top of that, he needs to address the “lazy arm” issue that plagued Nick early in his rookie season in the NFL. While he is great at getting around lower blocks, Young has trouble disengaging with blocks to his upper body, and occasionally gets carried around the quarterback by competent tackles.

But he’s still a very complete player and those negatives are minor. As Kadar says, “Young has every trait you want in an edge player. He has strength to bull rush, length to keep blockers out of his pads, and quickness to win the first step.”

So, who will be better in the NFL when it’s all said and done?

It’s hard to argue with Young’s physical tools. His hands aren’t as refined as either Bosa brother and he needs to expand his arsenal of moves, but even then those are nitpicks in the larger scope of things. His raw talent is there and his technique is already pretty damn sharp.

Of course, Nick’s rookie season showed that great strides can be made in the space of one season. We have already seen his biggest weakness nearly erased, while there isn’t much to complain about with Joey. This trio will probably be among the top five pass rushers in the league for most of their careers.

But Young has that extra little bit of burst. That extra little bit of hip rotation. That extra finesse when sidestepping. It’s possible he won’t eclipse either Bosa until he sharpens his technique, but he’s so close already and hasn’t played a down in the NFL. He can absolutely get there — and quickly.

Not that second or third place in this scenario is a problem. Even if Young comes up just short of the Bosa brothers and their production, he’ll still be a cornerstone defender for his future NFL team. There are no losers here.

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