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NFL Draft Profile: DL Josiah Bronson

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Will the Husky lineman sneak into the back end of the draft?

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 02 Utah at Washington Photo by Jeff Halstead/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Huskies have 5 players that have a shot at getting drafted next week and this is the last in the draft profile series for those folks. If you missed any of our other ones here are the profiles on: DB Elijah Molden, Edge Joe Tryon, DL Levi Onwuzurike, and DB Keith Taylor.

Career So Far

For Bronson to even be under consideration of being drafted has to be considered a win considering where he came from. Bronson started out as a 2-star defensive end recruit coming out of high school in Kent, WA listed at 6’5, 265 lbs. He definitely came from good stock though as Josiah’s older brother Demetrius played RB for Washington and spent some time in the NFL while another older brother John went to college at Penn State and played a few games for the Cardinals in the NFL as a tight end. Josiah’s only listed offer though was from Temple and he took it and headed to Pennsylvania.

Unfortunately Bronson suffered an injury in fall camp and didn’t end up playing a snap for Temple in either of his first two seasons. He decided to transfer to Washington and walk on to the roster. Bronson used the time off to bulk up a little and for the 2018 season played at 280 pounds as a reserve defensive lineman. He played behind Greg Gaines and Levi Onwuzurike but averaged about 15 snaps in 7 games and notched his first career sack. With Gaines graduating, Bronson stepped into a bigger role and was put on scholarship for his senior year. He played 400 defensive snaps in a 3-man DT rotation with Levi Onwuzurike and Benning Potoa’e after getting up to 291 pounds. He was a sound tackler with just 1 miss on the season but also only 1 sack.

Before the 2020 season Bronson was given a 6th year of eligibility due to his injury history at Temple and became the elder statesman for the Husky defensive line after DT Levi Onwuzurike decided to opt out. Josiah used COVID as a chance to get up to 300 pounds with the expectation of playing more nose tackle and saw the most playing time of any DL during UW’s abbreviated 4-game season. Unfortunately he struggled to make much of an impact with just 3 tackles and 0 QB hits in nearly 200 defensive snaps. In Washington’s final game when they were down several outside linebackers Bronson was moved out to the edge to display some versatility. Bronson decided not to take advantage of a 7th year of eligibility and declared for the draft.

Measurements

At the Husky pro day Bronson’s measurements didn’t exactly stand out from the pack. He measured in at 6’3 and 304 pounds which is undersized for a nose tackle but not unreasonable for more of a pass rushing DT.

Unfortunately Bronson also didn’t quite show the burst you’d hope for in return. Per mockdraftable.com Bronson finished in between the 56th an 58th percentile among defensive tackles on his 40 yard dash, 3-cone drill, and vertical jump. Unfortunately he also finished in the 12th percentile in wingspan so he also has shorter than average arms.

Analysis

Josiah Bronson has gone under the radar for most of his college career and that isn’t likely to change any time soon. He doesn’t check the boxes in terms of either measurements or production that you would generally look for in a defensive line prospect. Playing on the interior often makes it difficult to rack up the counting stats and that certainly applied to Bronson. He was much more productive as a run stuffer than as a pass rushing threat.

The Husky coaching staff when switching to a 3DL look consistently put Bronson over the tackle but he didn’t often get to the quarterback. His best season was in 2019 when per PFF he had a pressure on 7% of pass rush snaps. Even that season though his pressures came in the variety of hurries as he only touched the QB on fewer than 20% of his total pressures. His college football career ends with just 4 total QB hits/sacks on 379 pass rush snaps. If you draft Bronson it’s not because you think he’s going to help you get to the quarterback.

Washington’s defensive line play was one of the biggest issues in 2020 with injuries to DL Tuli Letuligasenoa and to the OLB corps on the outside. Bronson playing for the first time without a clear cut NFL draft pick on the interior alongside him disappeared for almost an entire 4-game stretch. Perhaps a deeper look at the tape will show that he consistently occupied double teams and so still helped the defense without piling up numbers but it certainly didn’t often appear that way in the moment.

Ultimately, Bronson over a 3-year period was one of the 3 best DTs on a team that has put out a number of them to the NFL over the past decade (Danny Shelton, Vita Vea, Greg Gaines, soon to be Levi Onwuzurike). He clearly overperformed his evaluation by the ranking agencies and was good enough to start 14 out of a possible 17 for a winning Pac-12 team in his final 2 seasons. However there’s just not enough on the tape to suggest that Bronson will wind up being more than a potential back of the roster depth piece in the NFL. Crazier things have happened than a player like Bronson ultimately making a 5-6 year career as one of the last DTs in the rotation but more likely is he bounces around on practice squads for a few years waiting for his shot.

Prediction

Undrafted Free Agent