Alabama product C.J. Mosley, a versatile linebacker whose game has no glaring weakness, made a noteworthy admission on Tuesday, conceding that the Buffalo Bills and Baltimore Ravens have shown the most interest in making him their respective first-round pick.
“I heard a lot from the Bills, and the Ravens,” Mosley told College Football 24/7, a segment of NFL.com devoted to covering the nation’s top prospects. Of the two, it would appear that Baltimore is the more likely destination for Mosley on the eve of the 2014 NFL Draft.
The Bills, selecting at pick No. 9 overall, would be considered reaching by choosing Mosley that high. It’s not that his talent isn’t worthy of a top 10 choice, but the devalue of non-rush linebackers and Mosley’s concerning injury history would assuredly induce plenty of criticism if he was made one. At pick No. 17 overall, however, where the Ravens are currently scheduled to select, Mosley would be far from the worst worst player or value GM Ozzie Newsome could attain.
You see, even one year removed from a Super Bowl title, the Ravens have lost what was their identity for over a decade. And if “lost” is too drastic, they’ve at least temporarily misplaced what was a dominant defense or had said identity diluted to a degree. Baltimore’s defense in 2013 was a solid unit, but it wasn’t the stingy group it’s been in years past, ranking outside the top 10 in passing yards and rushing yards allowed per contest.
A big reason why the Ravens no longer possess one of the league’s premiere defenses has been the void left by future Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Lewis, who retired after a second Super Bowl title last February. Lewis was the Ravens’ heart and soul. His passion and leadership were just as valuable as his ability to make tackles in bunches or produce a game-changing play when Baltimore needed one the most.
It would be absurd to claim that Mosley or any other linebacker prospect is capable of providing the Ravens with what Lewis did. But finding a new tackling machine at the inside linebacker position would be a good place to start in any effort to restore an elite defense and subsequently reclaim the franchise’s identity.
There is a reason why Mosley isn’t projected to come off the board to the Ravens or any other team within the top 20 picks in a large portion of mock drafts, though. His medical file is concerning to say the least. Serious hip, elbow, shoulder and knee injuries sustained at the collegiate level to go along with a negative stigma attached to Alabama products — derived from a theory that head coach Nick Saban maximizes the potential of his players, but also wears down their bodies — will surely scare away some teams.
But will the Ravens remain interested? According to Mosley, it certainly appears so. Given his skill set, which is comprised of athleticism, fluidity, instincts and toughness, it’s easy to see why that would be the case.
While no one, in all plausibility, will ever mirror or even sniff what Ray Lewis was to the franchise, Mosley is capable of providing some of the attributes Lewis brought to the table. In an immensely talented draft class, there are undoubtedly more promising prospects who could fall in the Ravens’ lap, but Mosley is far from their worst first-round option.
Cody Strahm is an NFL author for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @CodyJStrahm.