With the loss of Brian Urlacher and Nick Roach this offseason, the Chicago Bears made restocking the linebacker position a priority this offseason. To that end, GM Phil Emery signed D.J. Williams and James Anderson in free agency, two veterans to line up alongside Lance Briggs. Yet both players are on one-year deals and Briggs is 33.
"The reason we like Jon: he's a three-position player, three-position linebacker," said Emery. "We felt that it was very important that if we were going to take a linebacker in the second round that we get somebody who could immediately fill in in all three spots if one of our starters – our current starters – was not available due to injury, that he could fill in immediately and we would have a good football player in place right now. Obviously, he'll be given an opportunity to earn a starting job. We see him as a future starter."
Bostic played middle linebacker for the Gators, the position Emery foresees him playing in Chicago.
"I would anticipate – and again I will defer to the coaches, so don't hold us to this that, that's their decision – but I would anticipate he would come in starting out learning the MIKE (middle linebacker) first."
So it appears that Bostic is the player Emery sees as the long-term replacement for Brian Urlacher. Let's go to his collegiate game film to see if Bostic has what it takes to fill shoes of that size.
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Bostic is one of the hardest hitters in this draft. Whether taking on blockers or tackling ball carriers, he can lay some lumber. He's very violent at the point of attack and is willing to give up his body to clog a hole. His power makes him difficult to move off his spot.
He was one of the fastest linebackers at the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine. While Bostic may not play as fast as his 4.61 40 time, he has enough speed to meet running backs at the corner.
In coverage, he shows good awareness and understanding of his surroundings. He gives good effort in mirroring receivers in man-to-man coverage and is quick to close on plays in front of him.
Bostic's biggest flaw is his inability to get off blocks. When he locks up with offensive linemen, he too often becomes a statue and never fights to create separation. And when he lowers the boom on lead blockers, he's too worried about crushing the opposing player, instead of shedding and tackling. Because of that, he far too often loses sight of the running back.
Despite his solid 40 time, Bostic doesn't have great field speed and struggles to change directions. In the open field, he has a tendency to over-pursue, while his penchant toward the big hit can lead to some bad missed tackles.
He's pretty solid in coverage, although he doesn't possess the quickness or burst to keep pace with the more athletic tight ends in the NFL.
While Bostic is a solid player, he's far from extraordinary. His skill set is above average, but not far above. And while he timed fast, he doesn't play fast.
Yet his aggression, explosiveness and violent style of play has a place in Chicago's 4-3 defense, it's just not at middle linebacker. From what he shows on tape, Bostic is much better suited to play on the strong side. He's a beast at the point of attack and has no qualms about firing his body like a missile into the gap. In the Bears' system, that's exactly the job of the SAM, to clog up holes and funnel plays to the weak side. There isn't a linebacker in this draft who can match Bostic in that area.
Another reason he doesn't fit the MIKE is his inability to quickly change directions. He will not be effective trying to cover the deep middle of the field in Cover 2 sets. He just doesn't have the quickness.
As a two-down linebacker, Bostic can be great. The things he does well, he does very well but he's somewhat limited. He was solid value as the 50th overall selection and has the body type and skill set to have a long career in the NFL, it just may not be at middle linebacker. If used correctly on the strong side, Bostic has a lot of long-term potential.
Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. Follow Bear Report on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Bear Report Web site or magazine, click here.