While Jon Bostic may have his limitations, he could still see a return and a fit in Detroit’s linebacking corps
Scouts are taught to evaluate a player for what they can do rather than what they cannot. There aren’t more than a handful of players at any position that don’t have some wrinkles to iron out in their game. Good coaches know how to leverage players that just do a few things at a high level. It’s the golden rule of scouting.
Linebackers, however, have become an exception to this golden rule. Faced with run-pass conflicts on every snap, you have to be solid everywhere. Offensive coordinators are just too smart. The Bill Belichick’s of the world will march up and down the field exploiting matchups against heavy-footed linebackers. Undersized, converted safeties will get eaten up by second-level blockers. The days of being a two-down specialist, unfortunately for Jon Bostic, are over.
Bostic was drafted in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the Bears and has bounced around between them, the Patriots, your Detroit Lions, and the Colts. Coming off a foot injury that sidelined him for all of 2016, he lost little of his former athletic ability.
In Indianapolis, Bostic was an every-down starter as the MIKE linebacker, occasionally sliding up to SAM in rare three-linebacker sets. He ran the show before the snap. In coverage, he took running backs in man and primarily played the middle hook in zone. He possesses below average height with very good bulk and solid athleticism with good acceleration and balance, solid quickness, and adequate fluidity and change of direction skills.
|Prospect (Last, First)
|Scout Name (Last, First)
|INJURIES||2017 – Right Knee(2 Games, Placed on IR WK16)
2016 – Foot Fracture, Surgery(Placed on IR WK1)
2015 – Ankle(4 Games, WK1-4)
2014 –Back(3 Games, WK6-8)
|KEY STATS||2017 – 914 Snaps, 57 Tackles(3rd on Team), 40 Assists(2nd on Team), 3 Passes Defensed
|Height||Weight||40 YD||10 YD||Arm||Hand||Vert||3Cone||SS||Broad||Bench|
Bostic took charge of a young Indianapolis defense last year. He communicated with his teammates with a variety of hand signals, moved his teammates into the correct assignments, and even shifted defensive line fronts before the snap. He conceals blitzes well before the snap. Bostic keys through the guards to the backfield and is quick to diagnose blocking schemes with solid first step quickness to his gap.
A good point of attack player, Bostic fills his gap quickly. He can shoot active hands to win the chest, use a long single arm, or lower his shoulder to stack against good linemen. He has the agility to evade guards as they climb to the 2nd level as the aggressor. He has enough speed to get to the edge from the backside on outside runs and can throw a hand out on the move to maintain leverage. Bostic is very quick to sniff out screens and misdirection. Against Pittsburgh, he evaded two blocks to blow up a reverse on the perimeter for a nine-yard loss.
In man coverage, Bostic takes good angles to his assignments from the middle of the field. He has enough speed to stay with athletic backs and tight ends in a single direction. In zone, he gains depth quickly and can read to the quarterback’s eyes. He breaks well on routes that occur in front of him and has the fluidity to turn and run up the seam from a Tampa 2-type alignment.
Bostic is a consistent tackler that can bring down powerful backs in both confined areas and in space with the want-to needed to execute shoestring tackles.
Bostic consistently bites hard on play action, widening the quarterback’s throwing windows up the seam and on crossers. On a few plays, Bostic inexplicably grew impatient and left his gap to try to make a play. Even when he’s in position, he struggles to get off blocks to take down the back against all players.
On outside runs, Bostic often fails to sift through traffic cleanly. He’ll often get overaggressive and shoot downhill early or overpursue toward the sideline.
Although he has prototypical athletic ability, Bostic couldn’t be further from the new-school linebackers of Atlanta or Jacksonville; he’s a liability in coverage. In man, he struggles at the top of routes due to a failure to read the receiver’s body language, leading to poor route anticipation and body control. In zone, he lacks peripheral awareness and is consistently late to identify routes to his sides or behind him. He’s unrefined as a pass rusher.
For all he can do, Bostic is too easily exploited in coverage to be relied upon as a starter. He’s best suited as a backup MIKE backer who can do all the right things behind the scenes and serve as a good example of how to handle your business the right way. A reunion in Detroit seems unlikely, but he’d be a reasonable bargain on a low-money, low-guarantee deal.
Grade: 4.50(Backup You Can Win With)