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Armchair GM: Is Jon Bostic Long/Short Term Answer at ILB?

March 20, 2018
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Armchair GM: Is Jon Bostic Long/Short Term Answer at ILB?

The addition of journeyman Inside Linebacker, Jon Bostic, makes it all but certain Lawrence Timmons will not be coming back to the Steelers but is Bostic the long term answer? Is he a player they just want to plug into the ILB spot anticipating Ryan Shazier’s eventual return?

Jon Bostic was a 2nd Rd pick of the Chicago Bears in 2013. Injuries have led to him bouncing around and now the Steelers will be his 4th team in as many years in the league. Last season was his statistical best when he had 97 tackles with the Indianapolis Colts.

Analysis:

At Florida, Bositc was an old school Middle Linebacker in the Gators’ 4-3 defense. He figures to take over the MIKE role with Steelers, moving to the strong side which will move Vince Williams to the WILL role that has been made vacant by Ryan Shazier’s injury. So, Bostic shouldn’t be expected to be Ryan’s replacement. He’s really Vince’s replacement and Vince will be expected to bring some of the game the Steelers lost with Ryan’s injury. It should be a good fit. Vince has shown he likes to get after the QB and make the big play. More than any other position save Safety, the ILB’s have to act like a tandem. If one ILB is your spark player that you move around and bring on stunts, then your other linebacker has to be the contain guy, the run stuffer and the guy that prevents big plays in the interior. Bostic’s skill set should play well in this role.

Bostic was a team leader in college and the play caller for the front seven. He is good character guy and a real student of the game. Bostic will be joining the other Gator teammates Maurkice Pouncey, Marcus Gilbert and Joe Haden on the Steeler’s roster, so he should feel right at home.

Since there is not much to go on from Bostic’s pro career we have to go back to college to get some analysis. Here’s what NFL.com had to say about Bostic when he came to the Combine in 2013:

Strengths:

Downhill Mike linebacker attacks lanes in the run game, often running through reach-blocks to get to his target. Immediately presses with hands on contact with good pad level to create space to work. Brings power to his tackles, stopping momentum and sometimes throwing bigger ball carriers to the ground. Stuffs fullback blocks and holds his ground to stop linemen if unable to beat their blocks. Flashes the ability to pop off or swipe away linemen with his hands to grab backs in his immediate area. Does not mind getting in on piles or cleaning them up. Fights to take care of his responsibility, working the blocks all the way to the edge. Hustles in coverage, knows responsibilities on the tight end/running back and works to limit yards after catch. Sniffs out screens and secures the stop. Has experience at inside linebacker in both a three man front and four man front. Vocal leader that moves teammates to their correct spots.

Weaknesses:

Thickly built chest and shoulders but quickness is lacking. Won’t be able to makes wasted moves after first step due to lack of burst. Has difficulties consistently get off better offensive lineman blocks and can be stiff-armed by longer ball carriers. Hits with shoulder too often against the run, allows him to get sucked into offensive lineman’s block rather than being able to make a play on the football. Overrun plays at times, lacks elite change of direction ability to recover. Closing speed to the ball is average, quicker ball carriers elude his advances through the hole and mobile quarterbacks can run away from him. Almost gallops in the open field, won’t catch pro backs and receivers from behind without help. Cut blocks at the second level give him issues. His eyes move faster than his feet can in terms of diagnosing the play and reacting.”

The film bears out NFL.com’s analysis as you can see an active but not elite inside linebacker whose reaction time is average but who works hard to compensate for his weaknesses with a non-stop motor and tough play.

 

 

Bottom line:

Jon Bostic looks like a good solution to the Inside Linebacker situation provided the Steelers use him correctly and he stays healthy. He is not coming off an injury so there’s a chance that bug may be behind him. After you get past the top three ILB selections in this year’s Draft Bostic is probably a comparable talent with anybody the Steelers would’ve drafted. Kevin Colbert has said that he’s not overly impressed with this year’s crop at the position, so this is probably the Steelers’ fix. Bostic is 26 years old and he’s got plenty of years ahead of him. The Steelers signed him to a two year contract so it would seem they have faith in him to do what they need him to do.

Personally, I’m a little bummed out they couldn’t work something out with Lawrence Timmons. It’s obvious Timmons somehow landed in Tomlin’s concrete bunker, barbed wire encircled doghouse. I was hoping they could hug it out and get on with it but that is not going to happen. Given what we can see of Bostic he should be a solid addition to team. The Steelers are usually great at finding these kind of overlooked Free Agents and getting big play out of them. I hope they’re right on this one.

What do you think? Is Bostic the long term solution? Should the Steelers look to the Draft? Should they bring in Timmons or another Free Agent and let them fight it out?

Go Steelers!!!

Jeffrey Burton

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