Second Round, 50th Pick
Sharrif Floyd is getting most of the attention among the 2013 NFL draft prospects from the Florida Gators defense, and what he isn't getting is going to Matt Elam. Still, the leader of that impressive unit, middle linebacker Jon Bostic, is a quality prospect in his own right. Does Bostic deserve more attention from draft analysts than he has been getting?
Bostic plays low and patiently prowls until he decides to attack. His decisions and instincts are usually sound, and Bostic plays with a lot of effort and energy. He is a stout, combative linebacker who will take on a larger blocker with verve and hold his spot at the point of attack, giving up his body so his teammates can make the play.
Bostic has an extra burst when he is closing on a ball-carrier or quarterback. He is a smart leader of the defense who sets the tone with his physicality.
Bostic is average at best when it comes to speed, quickness and explosion. When his play recognition is slow or incorrect, he is a non-factor because of his lack of plus athleticism. He also generally struggles to get off of blocks. Bostic doesn't have true sideline-to-sideline range, and while his zone coverage is good, he'll be a liability in man-to-man coverage on NFL tight ends and running backs. He looks like a two-down linebacker in the pros who will have to come out on passing downs.
Bostic plays bigger than his 6'1", 245-pound frame because of attitude and 33" arms. He's strong and mean enough to throw an offensive lineman aside like yesterday's garbage. His quickness test numbers are good (6.99 three cone and 4.24 short shuttle), but these small-area quicks just don't show up on Bostic's film. He is a limited athlete.
Bostic has a good football IQ and directs his defensive teammates before the snap. He plays with a good motor and mean streak that also leads by example. He is a high-floor prospect who has little bust risk.
Bostic is predominantly an inside linebacker, but he also pass rushes on the outside. He has been an every-down linebacker at Florida, and he has experience in a 4-3 and a 3-4.
Dropping into zone coverage, knowing responsibilities, recognizing when to follow or leave a man going through his zone and closing quickly on the ball are all quality points of Bostic's game against the pass. His awareness makes his changes of direction sharp and decisive in zone coverage. Bostic can effectively drop far enough downfield to defend seam routes, but he is at his best making plays in front of him.
In man coverage, Bostic could be a liability. He doesn't cover a lot of ground on the run, and he lacks the suddenness to mirror running backs and more athletic tight ends. He will be exploited by offenses that create mismatches in the passing game.
Bostic can be used as a blitzer, and he is most effective pressing the edge of the pocket. He exhibits some handfighting skills and closing speed. Bostic is not an exceptional pass-rusher, but he has a good enough first-step value in this area.
Against the Run
It almost seems like Bostic enjoys collisions with bigger offensive linemen. Most of the time, it is him initiating the clash, and he holds up well in these battles. The problem is that he is too eager to take on a blocker and the play sometimes goes right past him. Bostic doesn't get off of blocks very well, either.
He does show the balance to stay up on cut-block attempts, and Bostic can defeat blockers enough to get an arm on a running back passing by when he recognized that the play is coming his way. When Bostic doesn't attack, he can be drive-blocked out of his area. Bostic is not great at changing direction to mirror a running play and will do most of his damage coming downhill. He also lacks the range to be consistently effective on stretch plays and other outside runs.
Read and React
Bostic is generally a patient linebacker who bides his time before getting a read and attacking the offense. He can blow up screen passes and usually does a solid job diagnosing and reacting to the action. Bostic rarely gets far out of position and can be counted on to take care of his job. He does get faster once he has a bead on the play.
With long arms to wrap up the ball-carrier, Bostic is a sure tackler who can also create big hits and plant ball-carriers with an extra burst behind his tackles. He is a strong tackler who rarely has his grasp broken, and most of the time, he's a sound form tackler.
Scheme Versatility/Future Role
Bostic seems to fit best in a 3-4 defense as a two-down ILB where his limited range won't hurt his team. He can fit at MLB in a 4-3, but it's not his optimal role in a pass-happy league. He'll be an instant contributor on special teams and a great addition to any team's culture. His instincts and toughness give him a chance to be more, but he'll have to overcome a lack of a great tools.