Alabama has been developing top-rated linebacker prospects for the NFL ever since Nick Saban’s arrival back in 2007. It seems like every year there’s at least one former player at that position who’s being pursued by top decision-makers in the league.
Since 2010, here’s a collective list of off-ball linebackers who have been drafted out of Alabama:
- 2019: Mack Wilson (Round 5)
- 2018: Rashaan Evans (Round 1), Shaun Dion Hamilton (Round 6)
- 2017: Reuben Foster (Round 1)
- 2016: Reggie Ragland (Round 2)
- 2014: C.J. Mosley (Round 1)
- 2013: Nico Johnson (Round 4)
- 2012: Dont’a Hightower (Round 1)
- 2010: Rolando McClain (Round 1)
The 2020 NFL Draft may not be any different. In fact, the No. 2 player on our top 10 Alabama draft prospects could end up being the highest drafted off-ball linebacker out of Tuscaloosa since Rolando McClain was taken at No. 8 overall by the Oakland Raiders back in 2010.
No. 2 — Dylan Moses, Off-Ball Linebacker
2018 stats: 86 tackles, 10 TFL, 3.5 sacks, 1 FF
Why Moses could be the first LB off the board:
The NFL is an ever-evolving game where linebackers can’t be limited to just stopping the run. When looking for potential impact players at that position, you have to be able to identify if a guy is able to make game-changing plays in coverage or getting after the quarterback.
So, what sets Moses apart from other linebacker prospects? Well, the Baton Rouge (La.) native can do a little bit of everything.
At 6-3, 235 pounds, he possesses impressive size and length for the position. As if that wasn’t enough, he also brings a rare combination of closing speed (4.46 40-yard dash as a true freshman), physicality and change of direction. He isn't as fluid and natural in coverage as his former running mate, Mack Wilson, but Moses does have the traits needed to eventually become an impact player against the pass.
The other thing that Moses has shown is a knack for getting after the quarterback. As a true freshman in 2017, he saw significant snaps as an edge rusher due to Alabama’s injuries at that position. He made the most of those opportunities, showing off an explosive first step en route to 1.5 sacks. This past season, Moses upped his sack total to 3.5, which was good for fifth on the team.
That versatility, in addition to his leadership skills off the field, should make Moses one of the most coveted linebacker prospects in the country come next offseason.
Where does Moses need to improve?
Moses has the frame that could support an extra 10 to 15 pounds, which would be extremely beneficial for him moving forward. At times, the rising junior struggled to stack-and-shed with consistency, and the lack of playing weight — and subsequent lack of play strength — was a major reason for that.
Another area where Moses could improve revolves around the mental side of the game. Much like Wilson last season, Moses didn’t trust his eyes enough, which sometimes led to slow reaction time. Granted, that isn’t all that surprising considering he was only a sophomore in his first full season as a starter.
The good news is that we can see what Moses can be when he’s reading and dissecting things correctly. In those instances, Moses gets downhill in a hurry and doesn’t mind mixing things up with would-be blockers.
Moses is the definition of a true sideline-to-sideline defender, and that will have NFL draft pundits banging the table for him come 2020. He’s not the perfect off-ball linebacker prospect right now, but he’s the closest we’ve seen from Alabama in a very long time.
If Moses can get his weight up to the 245-250 range without losing any of his elite explosiveness, that should take his game to a whole new level. Add in a more comfortable, trusting approach as he gets more experience, and Alabama fans could be witnessing something special this upcoming season.
Don’t be surprised if Moses ends hearing his name called in the top 10 come next April.