You won't find any linebackers more decorated that the Crimson Tide's C.J. Mosley. Staring all 13 games as a true he made three different Freshman All-American teams. His sophomore year he dislocated his elbow early and was used more in passing downs switching in with form ‘Bama ILB Nico Johnson. The 2012 football year saw Mosley make a leap. He finished the year with 107 tackles, eight TFL, four sacks, two interceptions, and breaking up another 2 passes. Alabama finished the year winning the BCS National Championship, while Mosley finished earning consensus 1st team All-SEC and AP All-American honors. Despite potentially being a first round pick Mosley decided to return to Alabama for his senior season. He didn't disappoint putting up 108 tackles, nine TFL, and broke up five passes. Mosley in 2013 once again earned consensus 1st team All-SEC and AP All-American honors and also was given the honor of the SEC Defensive Player of the Year and won the 2013 Butkus Award given to the top collegiate linebacker.
C.J. Mosley stands at 6-foot-2 and 232 pounds. There isn't a linebacker in the college football who has displayed the type of high football IQ and instincts Mosley has on the field. He displays a great of ability to read the QBs eyes in pass coverage and hit his keys. He has a great ability to recognize route and understands down and distance situations incredibly well. In the run game Mosley uses his football IQ to diagnose the plays quickly and keep himself clean from blockers. He is incredibly disciplined in his reads and this could only be the result of excellent preparation and film study throughout the week.
On this play we see Mosley football intelligence in action. He is faking a blitz but will then bail out into the throwing lane. He reads the QBs eyes and flows route into the throwing window for the route. When there he gets two hands on the ball but, doing his best Ike Taylor impression, drops it. Mosley's 2013 tape is filled with plays where he recognizes the route and under cut it. Sadly it is also filled with dropped interceptions as well.
Mosley has more than just football smarts though he is also very athletic. The 'Bama linebacker has some of the best closing speed I have seen from an interior linebacker. He uses his athleticism in the passing game to quickly close on a receiver often getting between him and the ball or limiting the yards after the catch. He is more than capable of staying with both tight end and running backs out of the backfield. He has quick footwork for a linebacker. Mosley is fluid in space and under control when in coverage. In the run game he uses this athleticism to attack the lead blocker when on the play side. He can take on fullback and win the battle in the hole. He understands leverage and uses it to his advantage. Mosley clearly understands his role on the playside. He may be even more dangerous on the backside of plays. He shows a good ability to use his hands and length to shed blockers and is able to use his superb athleticism to shoot the gaps in the blocking when he sees his chance. He has explosive lower body movements and he uses it to attack the runner in space.
Mosley keys run base on the heavy set I formation, When the play starts he uses his superior quickness to shoot the gap between the guard and the center. The left guard can't even get a hand on him. More impressive is his ability to breakdown and stop his momentum. In doing this he avoids the player responsible for the backside seal. He then uses he explosive lower body to make the tackle wrapping up the running back in the back field. Mosley caused three blockers to miss him and made the tackle well into the backfield. That takes not only the intelligence to keep you clean but great athleticism to pull it off.
Here we see Mosley's ability to take on the lead blocker. Once again the heavy set I formation is keying him to the likely run. When the play starts he immediately recognizes the hole developing by the blocking and the lead blocker. He accelerates through the hole and meets the blocker on the offensive side. He then gets a hand on the on the running back to help slow him down. This ability to take on the fullback is impressive for a linebacker of Mosley's size. You would like to have seen him get off the block and make the tackle in a perfect world. To do that he needed to keep his outside shoulder free and should have done a better job of getting underneath the blocker. Still Mosley did his job well on the play.
Not used as often as a pass rusher due to his amazing cover ability Mosley rarely had the chance to display his skills as a pass rusher. He did however excel at the delay blitz or on option blitzes. He will wait appearing to be in coverage until he see a hole in the protection then he will shoot that hole pressuring or sacking the QB.
There are very few weaknesses in Mosely's game. The biggest weakness is inconsistency getting off blocks when the offensive linemen have a free release to him. This is common though for many linebackers and can be helped by putting a little more size. He can also do a better job of keeping a shoulder free when taking on the lead blockers. Mosley will need to clean up his tackling fundamentals. On his tape there are more than a few instances where he will throw himself at the defender or drop his head to attempt to make the tackle. This led to a few missed tackles.He can also work on his hands as he dropped more than a couple sure interception in 2013. He will likely be better as the Will linebacker in the 4-3 but could easily play the Mack role like he did at Alabama.
C.J. Mosley is one of the few defensive prospects in this draft that can come in and start from day one. He is a noted competitor, a leader on his defense and flashes incredibly instincts in both the passing game and the run game. His coverage ability will be an asset in today's pass happy NFL. The Steelers used their nickel package more frequently then there base formation in the last few years. Unfortunately when Larry Foote went down the team was forced to use Polamalu as the linebacker in their nickel package since Williams struggled in pass coverage. Toward the end of the season the team tried to use Garvin as the linebacker. Though Garvin showed some promis Mosley's instincts and work ethic are better than any other linebacker in this draft and the best I have seen since Luke Kuechly came out two years ago.
Don't be surprised when he goes in the first half of the draft.