In the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft Phil Emery selected Florida linbacker Jonathan Bostic to come in and be the middle linebacker of the future. Bostic ran the fastest 40-yard dash time at the NFL Combine and grades out as one of the most athletic linebackers in the draft. Bostic is a bit under-sized for a starting NFL middle linebacker at 6-foot-1 245-pounds and on tape it's exposed quite often. Bostic is not a physical player in the sense of being able to attack and hold up at the point of attack, he's known overall for his one big hit on QB Teddy Bridgewater.
When you put on the Bostic tape you don't see a linebacker that makes a lot of tackles, and isn't around the football as much you'd like to see for a MIKE backer selected in the second round. Other players get off blocks better, attack the football better and make more impact plays. A lack of big plays is something Bostic didn't do very often in the time he was at Florida in comparison to other linebackers in the draft.
Bostic racked up a mere 67 tackles in 13 games started during the 2012 season which works out to an average of 5.13 tackles per game. Bostic was also tied for the lowest number of impact tackles among 2013 NFL Draft eligible linebackers, and was also tied for the lowest number of run stuffs on the season among those players.
Simply put Bostic is a very prototypical Phil Emery selection, an athlete over a football player. This type of selection goes against every logical sense of what it takes to be an NFL linebacker. Most linebacker you target should be instinctive, play makers who are physical and make big plays. Bostic is the opposite of that as he doesn't show that type of production or ability as a player on the field.
The one sound conclusion you can draw from Bostic's selection is his knowledge of the Mel Tucker defense. Tucker was a graduate assistant under Nick Saban at Michigan State and cut his teeth within Saban's defense. Bostic's head coach at Florida was Will Muschamp who is a long time disciple of Saban's from LSU into the NFL Muschamp was the assistant head coach/defensive coordinator under Saban during his one year stint in the NFL.
During mini-camp Bostic showed a unique ability to pick up the keys and direct the defense into the proper alignment to defend against what the offense was prepared to do. Bostic also was a key cog in Florida's defense in that regard, he called the signals fixed alignments and took care of a lot of the defensive intangibles that made the Gator defense one of the most successful in the country. This level of proficiency shouldn't be completely underestimated given that Brian Urlacher did it so well during his tenure in Chicago. Essentially when Urlacher wasn't making the plays himself, he was getting other players into position to make the play.
This is the best intangible Bostic possesses to go with his athleticism. Bostic's overall skill set however best seems to have him project as a weak-side linebacker in the 4-3 defense rather than the MIKE. WILL linebackers are often left free and are responsible for back-side containment responsibilities. The toughest block for an offensive linemen to make is to get up to the second level and take on a speed WILL. Given that Bostic doesn't immediately show the ability as a POA linebacker he may show he is better suited for the WILL rather than the MIKE.
Truly we won't know what the Bears have at the MIKE spot with Bostic until the pads come on and pre-season games fire up. Then and only then will we be able to fully gauge what type of player Jon Bostic can be as the future middle linebacker of the Chicago Bears defense.