There are situations when Combine numbers matter, and situations when they just aren’t all that important. For cornerbacks, the much-hyped 40-yard dash is actually pretty vital to predicting future success. If you don’t surpass a baseline of requisite straight-line speed, you simply aren’t going to be a great cornerback.
There are other positions, such as offensive line, whose 40-yard dash times are basically irrelevant. I’d be interested in knowing a lineman’s 10-yard split and short shuttle times instead of how quickly he can cover 120 feet.
There are yet other spots where the numbers are simply a guide to either confirm or negate pre-Combine hunches. If the numbers match up with what a player did on tape, there isn’t much else to analyze. When the numbers are drastically different from what a prospect displayed on the film, however, it’s time to reassess that player.
Nevada’s Dontay Moch is one such prospect. On film, he’s incredibly raw. He doesn’t play with good instincts and seems to lack football intelligence, but it’s hard to ignore a 4.45 40-yard dash–the fastest ever for a defensive end–and a 42-inch vertical. Can this athlete be molded into an effective 3-4 rush linebacker for the ‘Boys?
Like I said above, Moch is incredibly raw. At 6’1”, 248 pounds, he’s slightly undersized for a rush linebacker. That shows in his game, as he’s frequently unable to hold up at the point-of-attack. He’s got an incredible speed rush (as you might imagine), but his other pass-rush moves are below average. I’d point out a play or two in the videos below during which Moch shows his speed rush, but it’s basically every pass play. The question is whether his speed rush is sogood that his lack of a diversified pass-rush portfolio is even that important. At the very least, his incredible speed makes his other moves much more effective (even though they are still, in themselves, quite poor). If he can develop another quality move, watch out.
Moch reminds me a bit of Victor Butler. Butler was a pass rush specialist when he was drafted out of Oregon State (although he’s become a fine run defender). Moch doesn’t have the arsenal of moves that Butler possesses, but he’s in that same mold. He’ll have a ton of trouble holding up against the run in the beginning part of his NFL career, as he plays with poor leverage at times and really has trouble getting off of blocks. The strongest part of his run defense is backside pursuit (see the 3:13 mark below).
Rob Ryan’s 3-4 scheme actually seems to be a good fit for Moch, as Ryan employs plenty of packages in which he simply wants the best pass-rushers on the field. Plus, in my view, it’s better to stock up on one-dimensional pass-rushers than one-dimensional run-stuffers.
For me, Moch’s future comes down to his work ethic. He has the raw tools and there’s definitely a football player inside of him. He has a frame which can and will add bulk and, if his on-field motor is any indication of his off-field work ethic, I think his incredible upside makes him worthy of a look in the middle rounds.
I have a feeling someone (Al Davis) will overpay for Moch’s potential. If he goes in the second-round, that’s too high. I personally think you’ll see Moch get drafted in that latter portion of that round or the early stages of round three. Dallas might take a look at him there, and although I don’t think it would be horrible value, there are areas of greater concern than outside linebacker (where Moch would clearly play in Dallas).
If teams place emphasis on game film, Moch could very well end up dropping into the fourth round. That’s the spot where I think he’d hold excellent value for the Cowboys and, outside of a second-round talent dropping there, the pick with which I’d take a chance on the Nevada product. For me, the upside would be too great to pass on.
Other Potential Dallas Cowboys Draft Picks in 2011