When Morgan Moses walked across the stage in the crowded auditorium at the Mobile Convention Center for Senior Bowl weigh-ins, sighs were heard from the collection of NFL media, scouts and coaches. At 6'6" and 314 pounds, Moses defines the physical profile NFL scouts and coaches are looking for. His status as a first-round talent would be cemented in Mobile against the nation's best senior defenders, but his on-field play wouldn't be the only thing in question as the 2014 NFL draft neared.
Question a player's work ethic and the perception of them changes instantly. Moses, the former Parade All-American, arrived at the University of Virginia as a 350-pound freshman with no idea how to properly train for the rigors of a college football season. And yet the big man notched 43 career starts at left or right tackle while working his way down to a svelte 314 pounds in his senior season. Poor work ethic? Those tasked with training Moses for the NFL Scouting Combine are left shaking their heads.
Chip Smith, the man training Moses for the NFL, doesn't believe the reports about a poor work ethic. "I've put 1,300 players in the NFL, with 200 active clients," Smith told me when talking about Moses the player and person. Smith isn't just a hired gun with a player to protect, though, as he has 10 other offensive linemen in his workout groups—each of them vying for draft positioning with Moses.
Moses put in six hours of work each day with Smith—training on positional work with former NFL offensive tackle Bob Whitfield while also working on things like conditioning, speed work and film study. He's learning how to become a professional under their watch—something many draft prospects learn in the spring before they're drafted after spending just eight hours per week with their college coaches.
So where does the assertion come from that Moses has a poor work ethic? Smith doesn't know. "He was a gitty-up-and-go type of kid, and you can quote me on that. I had to tell him to slow down. Everything we did, he was like 'What's next?' This is a kid that flew from Atlanta [where Smith's facility is] to Charlottesville so he could stay on track to finish his degree in anthropology. If he was lazy, I'd tell you and the NFL about it. He missed two days of workouts from December to the combine—and they were for Christmas."
Smith has an impeccable reputation among NFL teams, and his experience preparing offensive linemen for the NFL is well known after he helped develop Duane Brown from a raw project at Virginia Tech to a first-round star for the Houston Texans. He sees the same potential in Moses, who was so dedicated to workouts that Smith says line coach Whitfield flew to Charlottesville to work him out twice a day while he attended classes. He's just two classes away from being the first person in his family to graduate from college—and one of the nation's best colleges at that.
Players mature at different rates, and Moses has come into his own as an athlete. According to Smith, work ethic isn't a weakness for the hulking Virginia tackle, but a strength. "He was the leader of our offensive line groups. Guys wouldn't accept a player who came in acting like a first-rounder. He earned it."
That's the type of player NFL teams will land in Moses on May 8, when he's expected to be a top-20 pick in the first round of the 2014 draft.