Dontay Moch first caught the attention of the online draft community when reports emerged of his blazing 4.25 40. However, the Nevada DE's long been a known entity to fans of the WAC, as well as opposing teams’ offensive coordinators.
Over the last two years, Moch has notched 18 sacks and an eye-popping 37 tackles for loss. His sack numbers dropped in ‘09, but that was in part due to Dontay frequently facing double teams. And when I watched him against some of the better competition he faced last year - Notre Dame, Missouri, Boise State, and SMU - he was relentlessly disruptive.
Moch’s 4.25 40 almost seems too amazing to be accurate, and to a certain extent that's true.As TFY Draft's Tony Pauline noted in his excellent podcast, Nevada QB Colin Kaepernick surprisingly timed in the 4.4s on the same surface that Moch ran his 40. Both players probably benefited from running on a very fast track. In fact, it's likely that Moch’s 40 time in Indy will end up being closer to Kaepernick’s than his own 4.25.
However, Moch does showcase tremendous playing speed. The explosive edge rusher can run the arc around offensive tackles, as he often did against Notre Dame’s Sam Young. And Moch isn’t a one trick pony: he’ll also surge past a tackle’s inside shoulder, and his speed is deadly when he executes a stunt. If a lineman doesn’t quickly get his gloves on him, there’s a very good chance that Dontay’s getting to the QB.
One area where Moch needs to show improvement is at using his hands effectively. Moch’s speed can be neutralized when he doesn’t quickly dispatch blockers. At 6’1", 238 lbs., he’s at a natural size/length disadvantage, so it’s important that he improve his strength and do everything he can to perfect his hand play.
Moch’s lack of ideal size stands out even more in the run game. He’s often engulfed by right tackles, even the occasional tight end. When he gets proper extension, Moch does flash good strength: on one play, he brought Sam Young to his knees. But Moch more often gets plowed back, like when he lost contain early in the bowl game against SMU, leading to a TD.
Because of his limitations as a run-defending 4-3 defensive end, Moch likely will have to make the transition to 3-4 outside linebacker. He only rushed with his hand up and dropped into coverage a couple times in the games I watched, but he looked very comfortable doing both. On one play, he dropped into coverage and quickly sniffed out a screen; though he didn’t make the tackle, he managed to slow down the action and prevent a bigger play.
Overall, Moch’s size and athletic ability remind me of Aaron Curry’s great size/speed combo. Had Curry played defensive end in college, he probably would have ended up looking a lot like Moch. The Wake Forest product posseses a little more bulk and has more fluid hips, but Moch’s not enough of an athletic downgrade to think he can’t become an effective LB.
That said, Moch’s never going to be a big edge-setting OLB, so some of the traditional two gap 3-4 teams may show less interest. But if Moch keeps up his production this fall, he’ll be very appealing to attacking 3-4 squads: teams like the Jets, Ravens, Cowboys, and Steelers. And if Moch kills at the Combine, he could lock himself in as a 2011 1st round pick.
Here's a clip of Moch wreaking havoc against Missouri. Hopefully, he'll continue to do the same this fall and bring his best game to the NFL.