INDIANAPOLIS –The most valuable player on a football field is the quarterback.
It is why, even with Josh Rosen on the roster, the Kyler-Murray-to-the-Cardinals speculation is a runaway train.
But the second most important player is the one who makes life miserable for quarterbacks. The Cardinals have the No. 1 overall choice in April’s draft, and despite the Murray hype, the player most commonly linked to them is Ohio State edge-rusher Nick Bosa.
He is a prototype for the position at 6-foot-4 and 266 pounds, sturdy against the run, explosive and technical off the edge. The most riveting player in the draft is Murray. The favorite to be the top pick may be Bosa.
“That would mean so much to me, to be thought of as the best player in the draft,” Bosa said.
Bosa said he will have a formal interview with the Cardinals on Saturday night. Murray is the chic pick, while players like Kentucky outside linebacker Josh Allen and Alabama defensive tackle Quinnen Williams are other options at No. 1.
Bosa said the Cardinals would err by going elsewhere with the top selection.
“Big mistake,” he said.
Bosa is the younger brother of Chargers pass-rusher Joey, who has established himself as one of the NFL’s premier sack artists. His father is John Bosa, a pass-rusher who was a first-round pick of the Dolphins in 1987. His uncle is Jake Kumerow, another pass-rusher who Miami took in the first round a year later.
“He’s just got a whole upbringing of NFL pass-rushing,” said Cardinals linebackers coach Bill Davis, who was an assistant at Ohio State the past two years. “It’s what the Bosas do and what they work on. They do it before dinner, they eat dinner, then they do it after dinner.”
Bosa racked up three sacks in four games to begin his junior season with the Buckeyes, but a core muscle injury in September ended his season. Instead of rushing back and increasing the chances at aggravation, Bosa left school to focus on the draft.
It was the prudent decision, but not an easy one.
“It was the year I had been waiting for my whole career,” Bosa said. “I split reps my freshman and sophomore year. Coming in, I was going to be the guy. I started strong the first three games, and it just got torn away from me.”
The Cardinals have one of the best pass-rushers in the NFL in Chandler Jones, and the addition of another could greatly benefit the defense.
“The quarterback has a lot less time, that’s for sure,” General Manager Steve Keim said. “It’s kind of what comes first, the chicken or the egg? Is it more important to have a better corner or to have better pass-rushers? Pass-rushers get there first, so they make the guys on the back end’s job a little easier.
“Anytime you can get two pass-rushers who are dynamic, it’s critical to the whole defense. And the style of play we’re going to play under (defensive coordinator) Vance Joseph is really all about the pass rush and the corners, the four perimeter positions.”
While the quarterback question will persist, the value of edge-rushers has also exploded in recent years. Most believe Bosa is the best among this year’s prospects, and he’s ready to show off his considerable talent at the NFL level.
“It’s really a crazy art form, pass-rushing is,” Bosa said. “It’s a lot more than just being bigger and stronger than somebody. It’s figuring out how to use all your tools to get around them.”
Bosa has a full toolbox, and Davis – biased as he may be – would welcome a reunion.
“That’s my vote,” Davis said. “I can turn the card in right now.”