The Redskins lost a first-round talent when linebacker Reuben Foster went down for the season with a knee injury last month during non-contact drills in OTAs. A few days later, Washington signed Jon Bostic, a former second-round pick with plenty of NFL starts.
Like a simple math equation, losing a first-round pick with baggage like Foster for a second-round pick with an experience like Bostic might not be that big of a loss. But don't trust the math.
Bostic had an impressive four-year run at the University of Florida, proving to be a big hitter and capable tackler, particularly against the run. In the NFL, however, the results haven't been astounding.
Chicago took Bostic with the 50th overall pick in 2013, and things went reasonably well. He started nine games of his rookie season. In 2014, Bostic picked up where he left off as a rookie, starting eight games and logging 83 tackles.
The Bears made a coaching change after the 2014 season, and new Chicago coach John Fox traded Bostic to the Patriots for a sixth-round pick. Yes, it's good that Bill Belichick targeted Bostic, but, one year later, New England traded Bostic to the Lions for a conditional seventh-round pick. After a training camp injury landed him on the injured reserve, Bostic never played a snap for Detroit.
In 2017, things improved. Bostic signed with the Colts as a free agent, started 14 games and nearly posted a 100-tackle season. Last year, he signed with the Steelers as a free agent, started 14 games and had 73 tackles.
At this point, there is enough to form an opinion about Bostic.
He can help the Redskins. He's a good tackling inside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. Washington can use that. Bostic will not replicate the speed or athleticism of Reuben Foster, or present even a similar amount of potential the former Alabama star held in the middle of the Redskins defense.
Bostic will help the Redskins depth at inside linebacker and should provide insurance for injuries to either Mason Foster or Shaun Dion Hamilton. Remarkably, he's already been calling the defensive sets in certain practice situations with the Burgundy and Gold. It can't hurt either that Bostic's father was an NFL player, as he understands the seriousness and grind of the game.
Pro Football Focus has rated Bostic's last two seasons as the best of his six-year career, but neither graded out at more than +1. Of the Redskins returning linebackers, Bostic did have the best grade for 2018 with a -0.4. Foster landed at -11.1, the worst grade on the team, and Hamilton was -1.3. Josh Harvey-Clemons graded at -4.9. Plenty of NFL players and coaches dismiss the PFF grades entirely, but they are a metric that is reportedly applied evenly across players.
Washington also has rookie Cole Holcomb playing inside linebacker now, and with his speed, he will get more of an opportunity this fall with Reuben Foster out.
Looking at the 'Skins LB unit, it's hard to see Bostic as anything but middle of the pack. Mason Foster and Hamilton project as the starters, Harvey-Clemons should play in his nickel role, and Holcomb and Bostic will compete for other snaps.
Add all of that up, and the whole does not equal the sum of its parts when Foster was involved.
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