Alabama LB C.J. Mosley has picked up where former Tide greats Dont'a Hightower and Courtney Upshaw left off by becoming one of the nation's most dominant linebackers in 2012.
On an Alabama team loaded with talented players that sacrifice individual praise for team goals, no player personifies that attitude more than junior linebacker C.J. Mosley.
After all, it was by his own admission that he learns of his personal accolades when questioned about them during the team’s weekly media sessions, per Andrew Gribble of al.com.
Despite his quiet nature, Mosley has been an animal on the field for the top-ranked Crimson Tide.
His play is a huge reason why the Tide has remained the nation’s top defense despite losing several stars from last season’s unit.
Similar to Tide quarterback A.J. McCarron, Mosley has performed at a high level this season while operating seemingly in stealth mode when it comes to national media attention.
While linebackers like Georgia’s Jarvis Jones and Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o have dominated the headlines, Mosley has put together a body of work that rivals both the preseason All-Americans and the projected first-round picks in next April’s NFL draft.
What makes Mosley different from Nick Saban’s recent star linebacker pupils like Rolando McClain, Dont’a Hightower and Courtney Upshaw is his effectiveness in pass coverage.
Two of Mosley’s five career interceptions have come this season—with the pick-six he swiped from Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson in the season-opener marking the third such display of his career.
Mosley—who earlier this week was named one of 12 semifinalists for the Butkus Award, given annually to the nation’s top linebacker—is the Tide’s leader in tackles (58) and has finished with the most tackles in five of Alabama’s seven games (h/t, Andrew Gribble, al.com).
Will C.J. Mosley become the next Alabama LB to become a first-round NFL draft pick?
His play has already caught the attention of NFL scouts and draft analysts, with his ability to be a three-down player sure to boost his value whenever he chooses to move on to the next level.
Take this offering from B/R draft expert Matt Miller via Twitter, for example.
He won't be a Top 10 pick, but Alabama LB C.J. Mosley is the best pure LBer in this class. Love this kid.—Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) October 23, 2012
He is not a pure pass-rusher like Upshaw was, nor is he comparable to the physical specimens that were Hightower and McClain.
However, Mosley has pieces of their respective skill sets merged into a 6’2”, 232-pound frame that has been unleashed in his first full season as a starter.
Whatever he lacks from a size standpoint is offset by his productivity and his versatility—which is demonstrated by his ability to line up as one of the Tide’s inside linebackers in Saban’s 3-4 scheme.
While his draft status is a narrative with a conclusion that is months (or years) away from being written, Mosley is enjoying a special year that should help add his name to the long list of dominant linebackers in the Tide’s illustrious history.