As the NFL has developed into a more speed-oriented, pass-first league over the past few years, exceptional athleticism has become a key trait for linebackers. That’s a trait that Alabama inside linebacker C.J. Mosley certainly has, and it should make him an early pick in the 2014 NFL Draft.
Though he has a strong build, Mosley has the athletic ability of a defensive back, and he’s very effective in coverage and pursuit. He has the speed to get around the field quickly, and he’s adept at coming off blocks and getting to the ball carrier. Perhaps most importantly for a linebacker, he has exceptional tackling form and can make stops in even the most difficult of situations.
Mosley doesn’t have many weak points, but if there is one unattractive thing about his style it’s probably his inability to transcend the traditional role of a linebacker. He doesn’t really make a huge impact as a pass rusher; while he led the Crimson Tide with eight quarterback hurries, he didn’t have any sacks during 2013. He is by no means a ball-hawk either, as he has had no interceptions this year and tends to drop the balls that fall into his hands.
Mosley should be very desirable for NFL teams because he would be able to fit into virtually every defensive scheme. He can play his natural position of inside linebacker in either a 3-4 or 4-3 scheme, but some teams may believe he has greater potential as an outside backer in a 4-3 due to his athletic ability. He’s a great field general and can be a powerful presence in the middle, though he may be an even better weapon in a pass defense if he plays on the outside in a 4-3.
- Great tackling form
- Good in coverage; can hang with tight ends and most slot receivers
- Pretty good with changing direction and coming off blocks at the second level
- Takes very good angles and doesn’t get exposed in pursuit
- Versatile enough to shift to an outside role in most 4-3 NFL schemes
- Exceptionally well-conditioned; stays on the field every play and is effective throughout the course of a game
- Doesn’t always get good results when he comes up to the line of scrimmage; tends to get blocked by linemen and taken out of the play
- Hands aren’t great; drops balls that should be easy interceptions
- Will have to defy the reputation of Nick Saban’s players who have failed to meet expectations at the NFL level
Mosley was absolutely dominant in 2013 and was the unquestioned leader of the Crimson Tide defense. He ran away with the team lead in tackles, finishing with 102 total tackles, 41 ahead of Landon Collins who finished second with 61. Despite going through the season without recording a sack, Mosley also led the team with nine tackles for loss and eight quarterback hurries. He’ll wrap up his collegiate career against Oklahoma in the Allstate Sugar Bowl early next month.
2014 Draft Projection: First Round