The San Diego Chargers kept their pick for the third overall selection close to the vest, but it's clear Ohio State defensive end Joey Bosa was the Bolts' target for quite some time.
In fact, General Manager Tom Telesco said Bosa was at the top of their draft board since September.
Here are five reasons why the Chargers targeted Bosa:
1. A Complete Player –During Telesco and Head Coach Mike McCoy's post-draft press conference, the GM answered all the qualities that drew them to Bosa. Not only can he wreck a game rushing the passer, but he is also stout against the run. As Telesco rattled off a list of superlatives, it's clear why the Chargers see Bosa as a complete player:
"Just watch him play in college. Talk about his strength, power, leverage, his hand use, his technique. The way he played the run in college is some of the best run defense we saw this year….Joey plays big. He's 6-5, 275-280. He's 20 years old. He's going to put some more weight on, but the weight doesn't bother us at all. The way he plays the run. He's stout, strong and powerful. Has great hands and a great feel for it."
2. Infectious Passion –In addition to his skillset, Bosa brings the temperament that can help transform a defense. The defensive end was not only a fan favorite at Ohio State due to his passion, but was also a popular teammate. Telesco explained how the former Buckeye's attitude is part of the package that made him attractive:
"We think Joey (with) what he can bring to our defense, he has that football temperament (and) passion. He's all football all the time. That's contagious on your football team. He's still a young kid. He's only 20 years old. He's going to have a transition at this level; there's no doubt. But he loves to play."
3. A Winning Mentality – Telesco was asked to use one word to describe some top prospects in the lead up to the draft. In hindsight, the word he used to describe Bosa was quite telling: Winner. The defensive end helped lead the Buckeyes to the first-ever College Football Playoff National Championship in 2014. He was a unanimous first-team All-America and the winner of the Big Ten's Nagurski-Woodson Defensive Player of the Year and its Smith-Brown Defensive Lineman of the Year Awards. According to Head Coach Mike McCoy, Bosa's winning mentality goes hand-in-hand with how he plays the game:
"When you turn on the film and watch the way he plays; the passion, the energy, everything….Any game you turn on, you saw 97 out there taking games over. He may not be getting a large number of sacks week-in and week-out, but the pressure he got on the quarterback week-in and week-out (was big). Those hits on the quarterback, the whole entire team feels. We just love his passion for the game. When he walked out of the room at the Combine he said, 'I can't wait to put that Chargers helmet on one day.' I mentioned (that) to him tonight. The fans are going to love him."
4. Position Versatility – Bosa is able to make a difference from multiple spots along the defensive line. While he is a complete player as noted above, Telesco remarked how their first round pick can make a difference no matter where he lines up, which makes him a dangerous weapon for Defensive Coordinator John Pagano to deploy:
"He's an outstanding pass rusher, on the edge and moving him inside to rush, but in addition to that, he plays the run extremely well. So for us, he's very balanced. To find a player to help us in both areas, which we think we need, he's not just strictly a pass rusher. He plays the run game extremely well. So to have those factors that all add up, it's nice for the third pick of the draft."
5. It All Came Back to Bosa – Even though the Chargers had Bosa at the top of the draft board all the way back in September, they did their due diligence on 3,000 prospects in particular. Nonetheless, each and every time they looked at a player, they all kept coming back to Bosa:
"You go through all the work comparing him to different prospects. You go through them all (with) the playing ability, and then the all-star process, the Combine, the Pro Day and interviews. The more work we did, he kept being the top guy. In the end it wasn't that hard of a decision for us."