C.J. Mosley | 6'2, 232 pounds | Middle linebacker | Alabama
2012 Stats: 66 tackles, 41 assisted tackles, 8 tackles for loss, 4 sacks, 2 interceptions
While everyone was talking about the leadership of Manti Te'o and the athleticism of Alec Ogletree, Alabama's C.J. Mosely was the best linebacker in college football in 2012. Playing in a star-studded defense, Mosley stood out on a weekly basis, showing he could do it all as a linebacker.
While Te'o took home the Butkus award, Mosley was a consensus first team All-American and should once again be among the best inside linebackers in the nation in 2013. In fact, his decision to return to school was one of the more puzzling moves of last draft season. He won a National Championship and appeared to be a lock to get drafted in the first half of round one. But Mosley will finish out his degree and add to his illustrious career. What else can he prove?
What he does well
Mosley combines plus athleticism with snap anticipation to get a good beat on the ball on most plays. He's a fast linebacker with the ability to close on the football in a hurry and stop plays before they get started. From a technique standpoint, linebackers don't come much cleaner than Mosley. He rolls his hips well through contact, stays low when taking on blockers and sheds effectively to free himself up in the running game. That technique also allows him to use his explosive lower half to punish ball carriers, and he has proven to be a reliable wrap-up tackler.
In the NFL, a linebacker has to be able to do more than just run and hit. Coverage is an essential element of a linebacker's game. Mosley excels in this area, showing fluid hips and the ability to read quarterbacks' eyes in zone coverage. His four interceptions are evidence of that. His athleticism also flashes in coverage, as he has decent hands and body control.
What he needs to improve on
Mosley has the size to play inside linebacker in the NFL, but he has the room to add more weight to his frame. The NFL requires a different level of strength, and there's no doubt Mosley will get there.
Another minor nitpick of Mosley's game is that he's not a well-rounded or consistent pass rusher. Blockers tend to get into his pads and he doesn't have much in the way of pass rush moves. While this isn't a major area of concern, if Mosley can improve his ability to get after the quarterback, he will be even more scheme versatile and valuable come draft time. He has the explosiveness and get off to be effective in this area.
One of the most well-rounded prospects in the 2014 NFL Draft, Mosley will only be held back by positional value. Middle linebackers aren't usually picked in the top five of the NFL Draft, but he has the talent to sneak into the top 10. He's a well-rounded player that looks ready to contribute right away.