Where does Nick Bosa land?
By: Corey Hietpas
The NFC West is the most competitive division in all of football. All four teams in the division have a good case for making the playoffs in 2021. With all these good teams comes plenty of talented players, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Getting even more detailed, the NFC West is filled with talented pass rushers, which is one of the most important positions in the game today, and I thought it would be a fun exercise to try to rank the top 5 in the division. For clarity, I plan on looking strictly at EDGE rushers, so this will exclude the elite players that do their damage from the interior of the DL (looking at you Aaron Donald).
5. Arik Armstead – San Francisco 49ers
Armstead had a down year in 2020, but he had a phenomenal 2019 season where he complied 35 QB pressures, 18 QB hits, 10 sacks, and 11 tackles for a loss. It’s probably fair to attribute part of the down year to the 49ers dealing with injuries and Armstead receiving more attention than he normally would, but that’s not the whole story. Either way, Armstead is a very good player and should have a nice bounce-back season in 2021.
4. Chandler Jones – Arizona Cardinals
Chandler Jones’s 2020 season was cut short due to a torn biceps injury. He only ended up playing in five games last year and was still able to put together an okay stat line with 10 pressures, 6 QB knockdowns, 3 QB hurries, 1 sack, and 1 tackle for a loss. From this stat line does come a legit fear that Jones is starting to slow down as he is now 30 years old and entering year 10 of his career. I’m choosing to give Jones the benefit of the doubt and will assume that if healthy, he can still be an effective pass rusher for another few years.
3. Dee Ford – San Francisco 49ers
Dee Ford is in a similar situation as Chandler Jones due to having had his season cut short due to injury. Ford only played in one game last year, so it’s impossible to grade him off of his 2020 season. Ford was also injured during the 2019 season as he played in just 11 games. So, injuries seem to be an increasing problem for Ford, who is now 29 years old. Either way, ford had a very good 2019 in limited action and had a Pro Bowl level year in 2018. Assuming Ford can stay healthy, I believe he can get back to his 2018 self and compete for a Pro Bowl spot once again.
2. JJ Watt – Arizona Cardinals
In my opinion, JJ Watt will go down as one of the best pass rushers in NFL history. He’s had an insanely productive career and can still play at a very high level. The only concern with Watt is age and all his injuries starting to pile up. He is likely to slow down soon, but we can hope that it’s not too soon.
1. Nick Bosa – San Francisco 49ers
This one feels like a no-brainer. Nick Bosa is the youngest and most talented player on this list. The 49ers selected Bosa with the 2nd overall pick in 2019. Although that may have been misguided with Garoppolo’s injury history, I don’t think the 49ers’ front office regrets this pick at all. Bosa ended up only playing two games in 2020, but he proved to be a dominant force during his rookie year. Bosa had 45 pressures, 9 sacks, and 16 tackles for a loss as a rookie. That is a seriously impressive stat line for a rookie. Bosa is already the best edge rusher in the NFC West, and he will be for a long time.