In a surprising development, San Francisco 49ers' star edge rusher, and recipient of a monster contract, Nick Bosa has slipped from his No. 1 ranking in ESPN's latest evaluations of the NFL's best edge rushers. Bosa, who was at the pinnacle of these rankings last year, now finds himself at the fourth spot.

The 2023 season saw a dip in his sack production, which appears to have significantly influenced his ranking despite his continued excellence on the field.

Nick Bosa's drop to fourth place behind DPOY Myles Garrett, T.J. Watt, and Micah Parsons has raised eyebrows among fans and analysts alike. While Garrett, Watt, and Parsons had stellar seasons, Bosa's fall is somewhat contentious given his impressive skill set and consistent impact on the game.

Myles Garrett of the Cleveland Browns has ascended to the top, securing 70% of the first-place votes. His dominance, both in single and double-team situations, has been remarkable, particularly with a pass rush win rate second only to Micah Parsons. Garrett’s stats include 46 sacks over the past three seasons, showcasing his relentless pursuit and effectiveness in disrupting offenses.

T.J. Watt of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Micah Parsons of the Dallas Cowboys also maintained top spots, recognized for their relentless pressure and game-changing abilities on the field.

Bosa’s highest ranking in the voting was second, while his lowest was ninth, reflecting a disparity in how evaluators perceive his contributions compared to his peers.

Nick Bosa’s performance in the 2022 season was nothing short of spectacular, with 18.5 sacks earning him the Defensive Player of the Year title. However, in 2023, his sack total dipped to 10.5. This reduction in sack numbers seems to be a critical factor in his drop in the rankings.

Despite the decrease in sacks, Bosa's overall performance metrics remain impressive. An AFC executive described Bosa as an “awesome player — tough, explosive, can bend, can turn speed to power, plays his a– off.”

This sentiment is echoed by an NFC coordinator who noted, “He's one big muscle. Has extreme leverage and power and just has a knack for disruption.”

Since 2021, Bosa has amassed 115 quarterback hits, underlining his consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks. However, his pass rush win rate of 18.6% placed him 19th in the NFL, a statistic that likely influenced his lower ranking compared to the top three edge rushers.

While sack numbers are a significant indicator of an edge rusher’s success, they do not tell the whole story. Bosa’s ability to disrupt the pocket, force hurried throws, and collapse offensive lines are invaluable assets that contribute to the 49ers’ defensive prowess.

His presence on the field necessitates constant double teams and strategic adjustments from opposing offenses, much like Garrett's impact on the Browns.

Bosa’s dip in sack numbers could be attributed to various factors, including scheme adjustments by opponents and the overall defensive strategy employed by the 49ers. His drop in ranking should not overshadow his elite skill set and the profound impact he has on every game he plays.

Comparing Nick Bosa to new #1, Myles Garrett

Myles Garrett
© Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Myles Garrett’s rise to the top spot is well-deserved, considering his exceptional season and consistent performance over the years. Garrett has been a force, leading all pass rushers in interceptions created by his rushes and maintaining high productivity despite facing frequent double teams.

His ability to maintain such high standards and overcome adversities, including a car accident that impacted his 2022 season, has cemented his status as the league’s premier edge rusher.

An NFL coordinator's blunt assessment encapsulates Garrett’s dominance:

“If you don't double team him, he's going to f—ing kill you.” Garrett's influence on the field and his statistical superiority in key metrics like pass rush win rate justify his top billing in the rankings.

For Nick Bosa, the 2023 season might be viewed as a relative statistical anomaly rather than a decline in prowess. At 26, Bosa is still in the prime of his career, and the qualities that made him the top edge rusher in 2022 remain intact. His work ethic, physical attributes, and football IQ ensure that he will continue to be a cornerstone of the 49ers’ defense.

As Bosa and the 49ers prepare for the upcoming season, there is little doubt that he will use this perceived slight as motivation. The competition among the league’s elite edge rushers is fierce, and rankings can fluctuate based on myriad factors. However, Bosa’s track record and potential for future seasons keep him firmly in the conversation for the best in the league.