Draft Daily: Close-Up On Alabama LB C.J. Mosley

NCAA Football: Sugar Bowl-Alabama vs Oklahoma

When asked about Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley, draft analyst and former scout Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com referenced a current member of the Eagles’ defense.

“I think he’s very good in coverage. I think he’s an excellent blitzer. But the most impressive aspect of his game is his instincts,” Jeremiah said. “I remember scouting DeMeco Ryans at Alabama, and that’s what set him apart was his instincts. I personally think he’s a better player than DeMeco was coming out, and DeMeco has had a nice career. I think he’s one of those guys that could play in either defense; ideally for me I’d like to see him as a Mike in a 4-3.”

Mosley (6-2, 234) is considered by many to be the top inside linebacker prospect in this year’s class. In 2013, he won the Butkus Award (given to the nation’s top linebacker) and was named SEC Defensive Player of the Year.

The reasons for the comparison to Ryans are obvious. Both are Alabama products; both have been described as film junkies; and both appear to be coaches’ dreams from a character standpoint.

“I trust C.J. to do anything — watch my kids, take care of my house. So a [punt] fake is not much,” Nick Saban told reporters last year. “C.J. is just so conscientious about everything he does that you know he’s going to execute and do it exactly like you told him to do it. He did a good job.”

From a measurables standpoint, Mosley does not jump off the page:

He has long arms (33 3/8 inches), huge hands (10 3/4 inches) and a good vertical. Mosley did not perform all the tests at the combine because of a shoulder injury.

The Eagles face some decisions at linebacker in the next couple years. Ryans turns 30 in July, and the sense here is that they’d like to spell him in obvious passing situations going forward. Mychal Kendricks took a nice leap in 2013 and is signed through 2015.

But there’s not a lot of depth at this spot, and at some point the Eagles will have to find Ryans’ replacement. He’s signed through 2015 and is due $6.9 million in his final season, but none of that is guaranteed.

Mosley’s college performance suggests strongly that he has the skill set to be an effective three-down player at the next level. In 2012, he played a lot in sub packages. And in 2013, he saw his role expand.

Mosley was an inside linebacker in Alabama’s 3-4. Here are some examples of what he brings to the table against the run.

Mosley takes on the Auburn fullback, sheds the block, gets to the ball-carrier and wraps up for the tackle.

This play against LSU reminded me of Ryans:

Mosley reads the play, and that allows him to go untouched as he swarms to the ball-carrier and delivers a big hit.

Here’s one where he knifes into the backfield to bring down the back:

Mosley is a fantastic tackler. And he can get around offensive linemen too:

Again, there’s a lot to like. Mosley is a very natural linebacker. He’s got the “I know exactly what I’m doing on every snap” trait that is so important at that position.

But what might draw a team to take him in the first round is his ability in coverage. This is more important now than it’s ever been. Offensive coordinators are constantly trying to create mismatches with running backs and tight ends against linebackers. And if you can’t stay on the field for three downs as an LB, your value is greatly diminished.

It’s obviously tough to properly assess cover skills without the All-22, but most analysts feel that is a strength for Mosley. And there are some hand-picked examples that indicate as much:

Against LSU, Mosley drops into zone and makes the tackle in front of him, limiting YAC.

Here’s another example. Mosley drops back, finds the receiver, closes quickly and limits YAC.

And this was one of my favorite Mosley plays. He does a good job picking up the back in coverage so that Zach Mettenberger can’t dump it off. Then when he sees Mettenberger scramble, he attacks and crushes the QB.

So the question is: If Mosley falls to No. 22, will the Eagles strongly consider him?

In recent years, not a lot of inside linebackers have gone in the first round. Last year, only one was taken on the first day, and that was at pick No. 30. In 2012, two were taken and only one in the top-20.

Perhaps I’m in the minority, but I think Mosley should be on the Eagles’ list if he falls. To say that they don’t value the position seems off-base. Only seven inside LBs are making more money than Ryans. And the team spent a second-round pick on Kendricks.

In the Eagles’ two-gap 3-4, the inside backers are expected to be tackling machines against the run. And last year, they gave up too many plays in coverage.

Mosley had the shoulder injury, but he started all 13 games last year. He doesn’t have “freakish” size or speed, but there’s so much to like about his game. He seems to have the intangibles the Eagles value so much in Ryans. Plus, he can play the run, direct the defense and cover.

I’d have Mosley as a name to keep in mind for the Eagles at No. 22 if he gets that far.

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  • PaoliBulldog

    I’d be stunned if Mosley lasts until 22 but yes he would be a great addition at a need spot.

  • Eagles1018

    There likely won’t be a better defensive choice on the board at 22, so I’d take him as well. He and Kendricks who I think is awesome, can man the middle of the field for years to come….unless someone is cut to save contract money……

  • Maggie

    Unfortunately Daniel Jeremiah also suggests that Kelvin Benjamin should go to the Eagles, because Chip Kelly liked big WRs at Oregon. Same old trite stuff. Expect better from DJ.

    • oreofestar

      what Mike Evans?

  • mtn_green

    Yes. Talent is talent. The 3-4 is really designed to keep the inside LB clean to make the tackle. Need good ILB to get those tackles and take those opportunities.

    Would love to have Kendricks and mosely in the middle for next ten years.

    • JofreyRice

      I re-watched the 2nd Dallas game last night, and boy, Kendricks was really flying around. Collinsworth was a little over the top, but Kendricks looked like the Tasmanian Devil in that game.

  • Joe from Easton

    Great breakdown. I will be really disappointed if the Birds go WR in round 1 unless by some ungodly chance Mike Evans is still on the board. They will get a solid prospect at WR in round 2 or 3. I think KB will be around at 22 in round 2, personally. I really want a top-flight LB (Inside or Outside) or DT with our first pick.

    • Joe from Easton

      I’d be okay if a top safety or corner dropped to us as well… Point is, pick DEFENSE in round one.

      • peteike

        amen, Im in same boat and I wouldnt mind Dix or Pryor either. Hope they can trade down, would prefer ARob there in 2nd but Im thinking his draft stock rises when its all said and done.

  • JosephR2225

    This and other Eagles boards are going to be hilarious when someone like Taylor Lewan has a draft day tumble and the Eagles take him.

    • cliff henny

      he has NYG written all over him.

      • JosephR2225

        I think so too, but they could also use Ebron, Evans or Donald. I just threw that name out as a hypothetical for a position where the Eagles have zero need.

        • cliff henny

          read a twitter mock, had eagles taking silo ,RC’s boy, in 1st. that would bother me. be really surprised if it was Barr/trade pick for Jordan or wr/trade back and take wr cause there’s just so darn many, get free pick or 2.
          so yeah, lewan scenario, i’d probably be incoherently pissed

          • JosephR2225

            I’m a BPA guy, so I wouldn’t mind it actually. But I think most people would freak.

          • cliff henny

            albert Breer is posting tradeback scenarios, says early 20’s will see action because of falling qbs and falling OTs, like a Zack Martin. I’ve settled into Barr or Evans, if not, find a trading partner

          • JosephR2225

            I think a trade back is probably the ideal scenario. Just not sure how many partners there will be. Seems like teams are guarding their picks more closely than usual because of the depth of talent in this draft. But if there’s one available, I would absolutely do it, unless as you say Barr or Evans is there, but I’m not counting on either one.

          • cliff henny

            easy to guard them today, see what happens when guys they want are flying off the board.

          • Jerry Pomroy

            I would so much rather have two 2s & another 3rd or 4th. But I want a high 2nd in top 10 of that rd, not another late 2nd. I want a pick at the top and bottom of round 2 as I think there is great value there.

          • JofreyRice

            yeah, I don’t want an OG at #22. Drop back 10 spots collect some picks and get Bitonio. I bet Bitonio ends up being a better guard, anyway. If there are no takers for #22, get someone that has a chance to be a difference maker. No matter how it breaks out, there’s going to be somebody–Dix, Fuller, ODB, Lee, Cooks, Mosley, Barr, Ford–that is a better value than Fi’lo at 22.

          • cliff henny

            silo, Fi’lo, glad you knew who I was talking about. sounds like Kelly is working out Lattimore personally, might want to add him to list

          • JofreyRice

            Not a name most have going that high, but Kelly’s def got the benefit of the doubt when adding guys to the offense. I have to watch sone Lattimer cuts, not familiar with his game.

          • cliff henny

            guess 3 eagles, including Kelly went to pro day. he stayed afterwards and ran ‘eagle routes’ for 20 mins. sounds like him and a-rod are getting some personal attention.

          • oreofestar

            yeah I mean I would take any of the guys you mentioned besides Ford over Fi’lo

          • JofreyRice

            Haha, everybody hates Dee.

          • oreofestar

            Would not take him until the 3rd….unless JOnes is there

          • Token

            Whats the Ford hate about? Did he do something wrong im not aware of? Or is it just because hes not 6’8?

          • oreofestar

            maybe I just like Filo :P

          • JofreyRice

            It seems like people think he should be better at setting the edge. I get the criticism, somewhat. I think you can learn that part. For me, its like criticizing Ebron’s blocking–that’s not what you’re drafting him to do. He’ll have to improve, but not everyone can do what Ford does around the edge.

            As far as the size, its not like Ford is 5’11” or something. He’s a solid 6’2″–an inch shorter than Mack or Attaochu; nobody is calling them small.

          • Jerry Pomroy

            It’s not a measurables thing. That’s part of it, but he’d be a serious project for OLB on the right side considering he’s a pure pass rushing natural DE that exclusively played LDE. Add in that he still needs work on his pass rush move arsenal, learn how to drop/cover, play standing up on right side and learn to play the run. That’s a ton of projection.

          • Adam

            A guy who’s opinion I put a lot of weight into, Louis Riddick, believes that Ford will be the best OLB in this crop next next season. Double digit sacks and immediate impact.

          • Jerry Pomroy

            I respect his opinion, but I don’t let him make my opinion. I do think he can get stuck on being too old school & that sways his judgement. I’m not a betting man, but I’d put money against that.

          • Jerry Pomroy

            He is just not a good prospect for OLB. I’m not even going to go into the reasons why again. Overhyped. Needs a 4-3 that will utilize wide fronts. Just not a good fit & it’s funny how many are finally coming around to what I’ve been saying for months. Not a bad player, but not worthy of being a 1st rd pick to a 3-4 team.

          • Jerry Pomroy

            I’d put my hand through my 64yr old plaster walls… Ouch! But felt so good trying… lol.

    • Jerry Pomroy

      Hahaha, I wanna stomp on your foot, or flick you in the ear after hearing you say that…lol.

  • cliff henny

    if they draft him, want Howie to publish a full body MRI. Saban has been know to grind his players into the ground.

  • JofreyRice

    I would be ecstatic if Mosley fell to them. I get the Ryans comp from Jeremiah, but I see him more like a Navorro Bowman/Sean Lee type. Can stick with backs and TEs in coverage, and plays with speed and anger.

    • Bullwinkle

      I was thinking the same thing. Mosley is a good athlete, but not especially physically gifted, just like the PSU linebackers. I would also add Jack Ham as an example. The thing they all have in common is that they are superb football players with a high level of intelligence and exceptional instincts.

    • G_WallyHunter

      If he drops to 22 will we all be screaming to take him like in 2010?
      I don’t follow college as much as most of you, is he that good?

  • Rick H

    Looking at Barr on game film I am not a fan of Barr. Mosley looks like good choice but not great (he could be but I just don’t know as a fan). I would work like crazy if I were the Eagles to get the Dolphins to part with Jordan!

    • Jerry Pomroy

      O rr’s game tape can be like pulling teeth. But what you look at with him (just as you needed to with Jordan last year), is what is he capable of. Not just the end result of the plays he makes. You want to see if the base with which your looking to build up has potential and if so, how much. There’s no question that Barr is raw. But what you need to do is make an informed decision and also figure out if the gamble is worth it. I’m guessing the Eagles are seriously considering making a move if he’s within reach and want to see as much as they can of the kid to figure out if he is in fact worthy of the risk.

  • Jerry Pomroy

    Point blank, I want playmakers. I want a playmaking ROLB, WR & ILB first and foremost. After that it’s all just gravy on top.

    • Jerry Pomroy

      I could throw out names all day, but bottom line, who I want and who we pick could be so far apart so I don’t get my hopes up that way. I actually look more towards not getting the guys I do not want (Benjamin & Ford mainly). I think they’re both trap players, window dressing if you will.

  • Neanderthal

    Round 2 Pick 1 (HOU): Jimmie Ward, SS, Northern Illinois (A)
    Round 2 Pick 5 (ATL): Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech (A-)
    Round 2 Pick 22: Kyle Van Noy, OLB, Brigham Young (A)
    Round 3 Pick 1 (HOU): Jeremiah Attaochu, OLB, Georgia Tech (B-)
    Round 3 Pick 4 (ATL): DaQuan Jones, DT, Penn State (A-)
    Round 3 Pick 22: Cody Latimer, WR, Indiana (A)
    Round 4 Pick 30 (N.E.): Josh Huff, WR, Oregon (B+)
    Round 5 Pick 22: Brandon Coleman, WR, Rutgers (B+)
    Round 6 Pick 22 (N.E.): Anthony Fera, K, Texas (A)
    Round 6 Pick 30 (N.E.): Dri Archer, WR, Kent State (B+

  • Neanderthal

    I want as many picks in first four rds as possible. Trade back. Trade next years number one.

  • jmkrav

    There’s no way it works out like this. If first-pick is accurate… I don’t know what I’d do. I’d sell my first born for a draft like this:

    Round 1 Pick 22: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M (A)
    Round 1 Pick 31 (DEN): C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama (A)
    Round 2 Pick 26 (N.O.): Jeremiah Attaochu, OLB, Georgia Tech (A-)
    Round 3 Pick 22: Deone Bucannon, SS, Washington State (A)
    Round 4 Pick 22: Will Clarke, DE, West Virginia (A)
    Round 5 Pick 12 (NYG): Justin Ellis, DT, Louisiana Tech (B)
    Round 5 Pick 22: Cassius Marsh, DE, UCLA (C-)
    Round 6 Pick 11 (NYG): Vinnie Sunseri, SS, Alabama (C)
    Round 7 Pick 31 (DEN): De’Anthony Thomas, RB, Oregon (A-)

  • Sauce

    Your Picks:
    Round 2 Pick 16 (BALT): Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State (A)
    Round 2 Pick 26 (N.O.): Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State (A)
    Round 3 Pick 15 (BALT): Marcus Smith, DE, Louisville (A)
    Round 3 Pick 22: Deone Bucannon, SS, Washington State (A)
    Round 3 Pick 30 (S.F.): Christian Kirksey, OLB, Iowa (A)
    Round 4 Pick 22: Daniel McCullers, DT, Tennessee (A)
    Round 5 Pick 22: Brandon Coleman, WR, Rutgers (A)
    Round 6 Pick 26 (N.O.): Storm Johnson, RB, UCF (A)
    Round 7 Pick 22: Brandon Thomas, OG, Clemson (B-)


  • Jeff Asay

    Can’t believe I feel compelled to say this for two more weeks, but if Eagles don’t either trade back for picks or go OLB, Safety, CB in that order for round 1, I’m gonna be pissed.

    • Andy124

      CB over WR?

      • Jeff Asay

        The depth at WR tells me they should go best defensive player at one of the positions I list over WR. Exception for Evans, of course.

        • Andy124

          Of course.

          But none of the CBs projected in the 1st excite me. Can’t address all the positions in 1 draft. We might be better served weighting that position a little higher in another draft, or taking a developmental player later on since we’re set at that position for the near term and have some time to develop a guy.

  • PaoliBulldog

    Trading back in this draft isn’t going to be easy, because with a few exceptions (Cleveland & SF, off the top of my head), every team would love to to the same thing. It’s a deep draft and the middle rounds are full of talent. I’ve never believed that the draft pick “value chart” is accurate since it fails to account for distribution of talent in a particular draft year.

    I can see a bad team such as Jacksonville trading a high pick to the Niners in order to fill a bunch of needs. But it’s going to be tough for the Eagles to get good value trading back.

  • EaglefaninAZ

    Open field tackling. Cool. :)

  • Jerry Pomroy

    I think the biggest thing with this draft that concerns me is where we pick compared to how few picks we have. It’s a compounded issue. Which is why I would really like for us to trade 22 in exchange for a high 2nd & a high 3rd/4th if possible. Selecting at the top and bottom in two rds gives us leverage if we wanna make a move or gives us the ability to be more open in the selection of players knowing there is more value to be had. The fact that we’re picking at the bottom 3rd of each rd and have so few picks literally puts us in a position where we either have to go full-on BPA in order to get value or we may have to reach a bit for some guys we really want.

    There is power in numbers and not only do we not have that, but picking towards the end of the rds makes the selections we make hold much more weight in terms of panning out. This is one of the reasons why I’ve said that we either need to trade up and swing for the fences on a premium talent or get ourselves in a position to pick up an extra pick or two in the high value rds between the 2nd-4th.