Alabama has been putting out so much talent since Nick Saban arrived, especially on defense, that some of their best players can get lost in the shuffle when it comes to the NFL Draft. Players that would be huge stars on other teams can have trouble getting a ton of attention in Tuscaloosa. C.J. Mosley, their weak inside linebacker may not get the hype of some of the other players on the Crimson Tide, but he has been a key contributor to their back to back national championship teams.
Mosley is their guy for making the calls on the field and making sure guys are lined up correctly, which will be attractive to NFL teams in addition to being a consistent player from week to week. Mosley needs to work to improve how well and consistently he is able to take on and shed blocks, but his ability to play the run, his overall range, his ability to contribute in coverage and leadership suggests he warrants going in the first round. That is becoming more and more difficult to do, but should he fail to go in the first round, going in the top 50 picks seems like a lock at this point.
Vitals & Build
Mosley is listed at 6’2” 238lbs which is pretty good for his position and he looks good athletically. Mosley is fluid, quick in short areas, accelerates well and shows good speed. His timed speed may not be as impressive as he looks on the field as his instincts help him look and play faster, but it would be surprising if he tests to where his speed comes into question. Mosley has gotten stronger over the past year and has gotten more powerful as a player but could still improve his functional strength going forward and it would not be a surprise to see him continue to add bulk heading into the NFL Draft process, but coming in at a good looking 240lbs is plenty for Mosley.
In what could be a developing trend for the Crimson Tide, the medical report will be big for Mosley and any other player coming from Alabama after both Eddie Lacy andJesse Williams were both adversely impacted by medical reports after teams evaluated them at the combine and Dee Milliner had several surgeries in his time in Tuscaloosa as well. Mosley suffered a dislocated hip that knocked him out of the BCS Championship against LSU and hopefully nothing else seriously will arise for him during his senior year or during the medical screening before the draft.
For the most part, Mosley is a consistent tackler that does a good job of getting in position, breaking down, wrapping up, and driving his legs through contact. As he is not a particularly imposing physical player, playing with good technique makes him look more powerful than he is. Occasionally, he will get caught tackling too high, get overpowered slightly and while he will get the tackle, the ball carrier can fall forward. Mosley tackles well on the move and does a good job of basically using a jump stop in traffic when he is setting up to make a tackle; he essentially jumps into a broken down position before firing at the ball carrier. He is not a guy who lunges unless he is desperate and trying to catch the ball carrier going away from him by the trying to catch his legs or ankles. While Mosley does not make a ton of impact tackles that will draw a lot of excitement from the crowd, he is someone who is consistently around the football and will pile up the tackles over the course of season and not just assisted tackles, but solo tackles as well. Mosley is someone who will rarely whiff on a tackle and is someone who can be counted on to make plays and do his job.
One area that Mosley could really work to improve is his ability to force fumbles as he only has one in his career to this point. He is a good, fundamental tackler but he just may want to focus on trying to improve on putting his arm or helmet on the ball as well as just ripping at it when a ball carrier is corralled.
Mosley does a great job of reading the field and diagnosing what is going on and can do it on the move. He does a fantastic job of reading and noticing fakes, options, and reverse type plays. Mosley can play fast and adjust to what he is reading on the move. For example, he reads a play where he is flowing to defend a toss action away from him and sees the reverse developing, cuts up in a hole and makes a big tackle for loss.
Mosley is not great at taking on blocks and while he has improved in this area, this is the biggest concern with He has shown the ability to slip blockers on occasion and that is how he prefers to deal with linemen especially, but he also has the ability to navigate through trash, see and find holes for him to get to the ball carrier and can navigate them effectively to make the tackle. Mosley is far better when is protected and can roam around, showing the range and ability to make plays sideline to sideline.
He is patient with letting blocks develop in front of him with his defensive linemen, reading them like a running back waiting for the hole to open. Mosley has the speed and quickness to exploit these holes and find his way to the running back. He is someone who will keep plays in front of him and wait for the play to come to him rather than have multiple choices, guess and risk attacking the wrong one thereby opening up a big play for the runner. Mosley rarely misreads and will play conservatively rather than attack in an uncertain situation opting to survive and play another down rather than potentially give up the big play and score.
Mosley is definitely who can contribute in obvious passing situations at the linebacker position. He has good instincts, reads what is going on well and if he sees screen, he sniffs it out quickly and either can get in position to break up the play or make a tackle for little or no gain. Although he is more comfortable in zone coverage, Mosley is able to play man as well. Usually covering backs out of the backfield, he reads the play while he slides over to quickly get in coverage, so he is able to adjust on the fly if the play calls to play the run. He will get a little bit of a bump when he first contacts the receiver and is able to stay with him effectively.
Mosley has a little more trouble dealing with big tight ends but he is able contribute in coverage there and compete in man coverage. They have upped his responsibility this year and had him run with potential receivers down the field and he has not only held his own, but managed to make plays on the football and help cause turnovers. His ability to help in man coverage really improves how much he can bring to a team and how much they can run in terms of coverages and schemes in the NFL.
In zone, he keeps his eyes in the backfield and reading the quarterback’s eyes, sometimes just a little too much as he will get caught out of position occasionally. He does a good job of flowing with the quarterback and usually has a good sense of what is going on around him. Mosley has experience in short zones as well as playing deep zone consistent with Cover-2 concepts.
Mosley displays impressive ball skills and reacts to pass quickly and easily to make plays and get his hands on the football, occasionally showing better hands and the ability to adjust on the football than some of his opponents. Not only is he someone who can cause turnovers in coverage, but he has the speed where if he undercuts a route going downhill, he is more than likely going to score and he is not afraid to be aggressive and go for the big return.
Pass Rush & Blitz Ability
Mosley has shown he has the speed and quickness to get after the quarterback when asked. Almost exclusively on the blitz, Mosley has experience attacking from the inside or the outside. He demonstrates the ability to anticipate and get a jump with the snap with the quickness to occasionally slip blocks and into the backfield to get pressure on the quarterback almost before he is able to set up to throw. Mosley is also able to wait on a delay, wait for blocks to set up and then find the hole and attack. He has the speed and agility to chase down quarterbacks and break down quickly in space to avoid overrunning them.
Lastly, he appreciates assignment football and when his assignment calls him to take on a blocker to create an opportunity for another pass rusher, Mosley does it to the best of ability enabling teammates to capitalize on the play design. It would be easy to go half speed when he is simply trying to draw attention somewhere to open up someone else but he goes all out just in case and does not try to play hero ball and avoid it. For instance, on a play where he is blitzing outside from the inside linebacker position to open up an opportunity for a safety coming off the edge, he goes hard at the tackle, does not try to avoid him or do anything that would jeopardize the lane integrity of the play, which allowed the safety to secure the sack. The safety gets the credit but he was integral in making it happen.
Mosley helps on punt coverage and gives a good effort in getting down there and covering the punt as well as making sure to down the ball, preventing it from going to the end zone when needed. Like every other aspect of his game, he gives everything he has and just adds to his viability as a player. He may not see a ton of time on special teams in the NFL, but he certainly can be an asset if they need him to play there.
Mosley has been a great player for the Crimson Tide, but with his skill set, he can play in the 3-4, but might be better suited as a middle linebacker in the 4-3. He has the ability to contribute as an weak inside linebacker in the 3-4 for teams in the NFL who want someone who with range, the ability to play in coverage as well as blitz, and his leadership. Further, he could be an extremely productive middle linebacker in the 4-3 if he is protected by his defensive line allowing him to fly around and make plays, especially for teams that want to run some form of the Tampa-2. Mosley could also contribute as a weak side linebacker with his ability in coverage. Not only does Mosley have the speed, quickness and range to play on the weak side with the ability to contribute in coverage and blitz off the edge, but he has the awareness and good fundamentals of a middle linebacker which could be an added bonus if he plays on the weak side. If he is going to stay in the 3-4, he could be attractive to a team like Pittsburgh, Cleveland, or Baltimore, but he is better suited to play in a 4-3 system along the lines of Chicago, Tampa, Denver or Detroit. He could also be attractive to some of the teams that want to run hybrid schemes with multiple looks like the 49ers or Patriots.
More and more, Mosley’s game is reminiscent of Sean Lee of the Dallas Cowboys. Both players are extremely effective as run defenders even if Mosley needs to get better taking on blocks, but both have also shown to be impressive pass defenders who not only show ability in coverage but have the ability to make plays on the football and potentially cause turnovers. Lee has become one of the best linebackers in the NFL and Mosley has that type of potential.
It could be incredibly difficult for Mosley to do more and mean more to his team in the NFL than he could at Alabama, but he does have a sizeable amount of talent going forward. For all of the obvious attributes and physical tools Mosley brings to the table, the one asset he has that could really move him up draft boards is his football IQ and his leadership. If his awareness and knowledge on the field is an indication of how he prepares and works in the film room, his biggest move on draft boards could occur in interviews during the post season process when teams get a chance to sit down, talk to him, and evaluate his intangibles.
Mosley warrants a first round pick based on what he brings to the table in terms of range, instincts and what he can do in coverage but needs to continue to improve when it comes to taking on and shedding blocks. It is hard to be a surefire first rounder as a linebacker without being a complete player or offering significant upside as a pass rusher. Mosley could certainly end up going there because he does bring a lot to a game that demands their linebackers to drop into coverage and puts more value on those who can contribute in man. Should Mosley fail to land in the first round, he seems to be a lock for the top 50 with the one potential pitfall coming from the medical.
Some of the film used in this scouting breakdown was provided by the good folks at draftbreakdown.com