All pass rushers in football are normally one of two things: a creator or a facilitator.
A creator is your prototype pass rusher. Your one-man wrecking crew. The Von Millers and Khalil Macks. They are going to rack up the sacks and terrorize passers. They are going to get passers off-rhythm by punching him in the mouth and striking fear in him over and over again.
A facilitator impacts the passing game in different ways than a creator but they still have the same effect many times one way or another. They will get a lot of pressures and even hits on the quarterback but at the end of the day, their main impact on the game might be ensuring that their teammates rack up the stats. Their pressures force passers to step up into sacks, make poor decisions, and more. It doesn't show up on the stat sheet but they are still getting the passer off rhythm.
Which is Joey Bosa?
If there is one thing that the Jacksonville Jaguars could not do any matter what they tried, it was getting quarterbacks and their offenses off rhythm.
They would send four after the quarterback and it wouldn't phase them. Quarterbacks could go through their progressions fairly easily. It looked like they were playing a game of catch with their skill players. No rush to do anything, just sit there and toss them the ball. You can be relaxed because there is nothing threatening you. You could stay in rhythm.
When the Jaguars sent more than four after the passer, they were not much better at affecting him. There were more bodies around the passer sure, but the impact was minimal. It was like seeing the passer play a relaxed game of catch again except this time he is playing in a small hallway instead of his front yard.
There is less room to move around but don't get it twisted, there is still no rush to do anything. You could still just sit there and toss the ball. You could still be relaxed because nothing was going to threaten you. You could still stay in rhythm.
When I wrote about Jalen Ramsey, I talked about how the Jaguars had too many nice guys on defense. Not enough hunters. This plays into my central point that the Jaguars didn't have a single creator or facilitator on the field in 2015 and they are going to need to add both to their roster in 2016 if they hope to fare any better on defense.
Sen'derrick Marks was a creator in 2014 but it is unclear where his level of play will be at next season. Dante Fowler was drafted to be a creator but there is zero clarity on what type of player he will be either.
Essentially, the Jaguars need to enter both free agency and the NFL Draft with the mindset that they don't have one of either type on their team right now. And this is where Joey Bosa comes in.
Facilitator play style vs. creator production
When you describe Bosa as a player, you will probably describe something that sounds a lot like a facilitator. He gets a ton of pressures and hits on the quarterback, but there are also a lot of snaps where he just can't get there.
This does not mean it was a failed snap for Bosa because in many of those cases he is still forcing the quarterback to step up in the pocket or force the play to break down. He is causing chaos even when he is not filling the stat sheet.
Despite his facilitator play style, Bosa was still able to produce in college like a creator at times. In 3 seasons he was able to amass 51 tackles for a loss, 26 sacks, and five forced fumbles. He showed up in big games such as a 2013 bowl game against Clemson and rivalry games vs Michigan.
This shows that while Bosa may not always play like a creator, he can still be productive. There are some players where all of their big plays are these pressures and near hits. And those players are fine in their own rights but premier defenders need to offer more. If you are going to be a premier facilitator type, then you need to still display the ability to make plays and produce. Bosa has done this.
Value of a gnat vs. value of a bee
The best way I can describe the true difference between a facilitator and a creator is to think about them like gnats and bees.
A facilitator is a gnat. They will infuriate you to no end, making you want to pull your hair out in frustration. They are complete nuances and they will obviously affect your mood. But at the end of the day, it is still just a gnat. It will bug you but it won't have a ton of affect on your life.
A creator, on the other hand, is a bee. They will do more than just frustrate you and throw your day off rhythm. They will ruin your day. They will sting you. It will hurt. And you will remember it.
This is the ultimate question that teams have to ask themselves about Bosa this year: Is he a gnat or a bee? And if he is a gnat, is that worth a top-five pick?
From my perspective, I think Bosa has a lot of both gnat and bee qualities. How he wins as a player is clear to anyone that watches him. He is going to beat you with explosion, strength, and technique.
He is going to do one of two things: First, he will bull-rush you all the way back into your quarterback's lap, snap after snap. Second, he will line up wide and make you think the bull-rush is coming again, and then he will quickly take advantage of the vulnerable inside track to the passer.
This is how a lot of Bosa's rushes are gonna look.
Bosa did not make an impact on the stat sheet on this rush or many of his rushes, but he was still a gnat. Still bull-rushing the lineman into his own quarterback. Being a nuisance.
The question with Bosa is that while all of the plays where he is a gnat are well and good are there enough plays where he flips the switch and becomes the bee? Where he doesn't just get the quarterback off rhythm, but he stings and he finishes him off?
There are flashes of Bosa doing such. He still wins in one of the two ways, be it strength and technique or getting into the tackles head, but he is still capable of being a bee. Capable of being a creator, a play-maker.
Bosa is a 4-3 end in its entirety. He should put his hand in the dirt and line up over the offense's right tackle snap after snap. But there are instances where he can be a bee from different alignments as well, adding to his value.
This brings us all back to the main questions with Bosa. Is he a gnat or a bee?
Well, he's a little of both.
He is not an overly dynamic athlete so he will not threaten the edge as suddenly as a lot of other pass rushers and this may hold him back to a degree. But he is also as good at what he does as his type of player can really be. He will bring you a lot of gnat snaps but there are bee snaps in there as well.
Is the type of defensive end who is not always a constant creator worth a top-five pick? In most classes, I would be hesitant to say yes. But in this class that is weak throughout its core and at the top? He is definitely worth it.
As for the Jaguars specifically, the type of Bosa they should hope to get relies some on the type of player that Fowler is going to be. As a scheme fit, he is perfect because he would give the Jaguars a player who can play on the edge on both run and pass downs which would give Fowler the chance to move around the formation to create mismatches.
It is unclear if a defense with two players who function best as facilitators would be prosperous, but Bosa is a player that the Jaguars would be lucky to have at the end of the day.