Since the day they returned to the NFL in 1999, the Cleveland Browns have had a chance to draft plenty of future Pro Bowlers. Instead, the team has seen multiple trade-down scenarios with many of their selections being players who shouldn’t have been drafted as high as they were. Throw a dart at the Browns’ recent draft history, and you’re bound to hit a player who is no longer in Cleveland, if they’re in the NFL at all.
Much like they have over the years, the Browns traded down from their No. 2 pick and back to No. 15. While Carson Wentz may have been the pick had they stayed at No. 2, they also could have selected players like defensive end Joey Bosa or running back Ezekiel Elliott, both of which are former Ohio State Buckeyes and are having very impressive rookie campaigns.
Bosa and his San Diego Chargers are set to play against the Browns on Saturday, and ahead of the game, Browns Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas had plenty of things to say about the rookie, one who could easily be donning the orange and brown every Sunday for years to come. Instead, Thomas and the offensive line will have the duties of trying to block the impressive rookie.
Here’s what Thomas had to say about Bosa, per ohio.com’s Nate Ulrich:
“As far as rookies go, he’s the most polished pass rusher that I’ve ever seen. He’s got a natural instinct about counter pass rush moves and using his hands to beat an offensive lineman that you don’t really see out of rookies. He looks like an eight-year vet out there the way he tries to get after the quarterback. Another thing that always stands out when you watch him is just the effort.”
Since he was drafted with the third overall pick in 2007, Thomas hasn’t missed a Pro Bowl (10 consecutive) or a single offensive snap (9.791). He has seen his fair share of good (and bad) opposing defensive lineman. While Thomas is historically positive about everything, for him to say this about Bosa shouldn’t be taken as a grain of salt. So far this season, the 21-year-old has 36 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, 7.5 sacks, nine quarterback hits, 35 quarterback pressures, one forced fumble and one pass defended.
Head coach Hue Jackson has hinted that he would love if Bosa were on his team, but it’s too late now. During his first season at the helm, Jackson could use a solid, do-it-all-type player on defense, especially to put alongside nose tackle Danny Shelton. Bosa could have easily been that guy. In his first 10 games, the rookie has lined up at tackle, defensive end, and outside linebacker.
“It is always tough when you don’t have good players,” Jackson said. “He is a tremendous player. For us to look back on where we were then, it really doesn’t matter now. He is at San Diego and we have to block him. He is a tremendous football player, and I think we all know that. He had a great career at Ohio State, and he is starting right in the NFL.
“He has hand quickness, his initial quickness and he is relentless. He is relentless to the ball. To me, he is a little further along than some early NFL guys who do not know how to dip and rip and those things. I just think he does it naturally.”
Unfortunately, Bosa can play anywhere along the defensive line, so Thomas cannot solely be responsible to block the rookie. That could be bad news for the Browns’ backfield, including quarterback Robert Griffin III, who are two losses away from being the second team in NFL history to go an imperfect 0-16 in a season. Cleveland has surrendered 53 sacks so far in 2016, which is 12 more than any other team. If they’re not careful, Bose could have a career-type day on Saturday.