Detroit Lions left tackle
Bosa, the third overall pick, and Decker, who the Lions selected 16th overall, spent the better part of three years going toe-to-toe in practice at Ohio State, which both men credit for preparing them to step right in and contribute as rookies.
“If you’ve talked to him, I’ve sure you’ve heard about it, but it was just battles every day. I owe a lot to him,” Bosa told The Detroit News of Decker on the red carpet of the NFL Honors show in Houston the night before the Super Bowl. “Coming to the NFL, having played an NFL-caliber player really helped so much.”
Bosa ended up accepting the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year award that night after racking up 10.5 sacks over 12 games. His 17 tackles for loss were tied for the league lead.
Decker slotted into the Lions' starting left tackle spot from Day 1, and played every snap for Detroit this past season.
Like Bosa, Decker credited those battles in practice back in Columbus with helping prepare him for the caliber of rushers he’d face week after week in this league.
“That can’t be understated,” Decker said at last year’s Combine. “Getting to play against a guy like (Bosa) or a guy like Noah Spence for two years and even Adolphus Washington, Michael Bennett, Johnathan Hankins or John Simon.
“Joey is an incredible player. He’s really complete. He plays the run really well. He’s strong. He’s quick off the ball. He’s good with his hands. He’s such a complete player. If you do something wrong, he’s going to expose you. He made me a lot better player.”
The proof in that was how ahead of the curve Decker appeared to be early on. He was graded among the top 12 left tackles in football by Pro Football Focus this past season.
Both Decker and Bosa look to have bright futures in Detroit and Los Angeles, respectively. They’ll always be linked by their Ohio State ties, and those battles in practice that help shape both men into the players they’ve become.