Alabama has produced the best linebacker talent in the country since Nick Saban arrived, and C.J. Mosley is the next in line to exit for the NFL after this season.
He could have left this past April, but Mosley wanted to stick around for one more year to finish his degree and work on his skills. His instincts against the pass and ability to shed blocks in the run game make him an impressive and effective player.
He isn't respected for his play in the box, but his pass defense may become legendary before his time in Tuscaloosa is up.
One of the ways that Mosley has caught the eyes of scouts and fans is his pass coverage.
Last year he finished tied for the career record in interceptions (3) returned for touchdowns (h/t Alabama Athletics).
He is an elite coverage player that has great instincts.
Here is his pick-six against Michigan to open the 2012 season:
At the :39 mark in the video, you hear Kirk Herbstreit say that, “Mosley is the most athletic linebacker that Alabama has, and all he did here was read the eyes of Denard Robinson.”
In coverage, he is constantly around the football unexpectedly. Mosley rarely wastes a step and closes the gap faster than any linebacker in the country.
He has the ability to play well in zone coverage or in man when he is asked to cover slot receivers and backs.
His ability against the pass is impressive, but his run defense is the most underrated skill set he carries.
Mosley is not considered to be an elite defender against the run, but he is a very complete player that actually plays well in the box despite his lack of ideal size.
This is a look at Mosley making a play against the run in the Michigan game in 2012.
In the first clip he is circled in crimson and the ball-carrier is circled in blue, with a blue arrow showing his intended lane.
You will notice that Mosley is engaged with the left guard.
In the second clip, you see Mosley breaking away from the block, using his arms to shed the blocker and attack the ball-carrier. This happened regularly last season, and thanks to his lengthy wingspan, his reach is beneficial when shedding blocks.
The Crimson Tide have two leaders heading into 2013: AJ McCarron on offense and C.J. Mosley on defense.
Mosley started as a pass specialist his freshman year, and now he has become the backbone for the defense. He finished 2012 with 107 total tackles, leading Alabama in the category. Mosley had 48 more tackles than the Tide’s No. 2 Trey DePriest.
He also finished No. 3 in tackles for loss and No. 2 in sacks.
As an All-American, Mosley is what his teammates want to be. Heading into 2013, he will show them the way as the Tide searches for a third straight national title.