At one point seemed like all a prospect had to do to be in consideration at the top of the linebacker class was to have started for Alabama. For a stretch it seemed like the top inside linebacker in the draft played for Nick Saban every year. Part of that is coaching, and part of it is an incredible recruiting network — the rich staying rich.
And in fact Alabama’s Dylan Moses started the 2020 season as one of the most highly regarded linebackers in the draft. But despite a dominant season from Alabama, Moses’ draft stock fell off over the course of 2020 and there are number of linebackers ahead of him on most big boards.
So what does Moses bring to the field and where does he fit into the 2021 NFL Draft?
Prospect: Dylan Moses
Games Watched: vs. Missouri (2020), vs. Ole Miss (2020), vs. Florida (2020)
Games Played: 30
Tackles For a loss: 21.5
Forced Fumbles: 3
Passes Defensed: 4
Games Played: 12
Tackles For a loss: 6.0
Forced Fumbles: 1
Passes Defensed: 3
Best: Athleticism, range, length, space play, tackling
Worst: Dealing with blockers
Projection: A nickel or WILL linebacker who should see a lot of reps in sub-packages, with the potential to start based on scheme.
Dylan Moses is an athletic, rangy linebacker prospect from the University of Alabama.
Moses has a good blend of size and athleticism, listed at 6-foot 3-inches, 240 pounds while maintaining the range to patrol sizeable coverage zones or to pursue in run support. Moses typically aligned as an inside linebacker in Alabama’s defense, with responsibilities in coverage, run support, and as a blitzer. He also shows good communication skills before the snap, relaying information to his teammates and making adjustments in the pre-snap phase.
Moses hits his landmarks quickly and with little wasted motion when dropping into coverage. Once in his coverage zones, Moses does a good job of reading the quarterback’s eyes while maintaining discipline with regards to players entering and exiting his zone of responsibility. Moses has the range and athleticism to cover a relatively large area of field, as well as run with tight ends and running backs when he picks them up. He also shows a good closing burst, using his length to be disruptive at the catch point. He is also frequently used as a blitzer, typically attacking the A or B-gaps, where his speed can create mismatches with guards and centers.
He triggers downhill quickly as a run defender, generally flying to fill his gap. Moses typically diagnoses runs well and shows good effort and hustle in pursuit when the play is away from him. He is also a reliable tackler, both in the run game and in space, routinely wrapping up to get the ball carrier on the ground with minimal yards after contact.
Moses shows consistent struggles when taking on blockers, both in the run game and downfield blockers in pass defense. He can beat them if the gets his hands on them first, but once engaged, he rarely sheds them before the play is over. Moses is frequently blown off the ball in run defense when trying to take on offensive linemen, and prefers to run around blockers as a pass rusher. And while Moses generally shows a good football IQ, he can get caught up in misdirection and run himself out of plays.
Overall Grade: 7.3 - This prospect has the athletic traits to be a contributor early in his career, but might be limited to sub-package roles.
Dylan Moses projects as an off-ball weakside (WILL) linebacker at the NFL level. Whether he starts or not might come down to the scheme and philosophy of the team which drafts him, but his ability in coverage should earn him plenty of snaps.
Even if he is “only” a nickel linebacker, considering that nickel sub-packages are essentially the NFL’s starting defense, he should be a significant contributor early on in his career. Moses might not have true “sideline to sideline” range like a young Luke Kuechley, Patric Willis, or Brian Urlacher, but he does combine good size with good range. He should be able to patrol the flat or hook/curl areas and match up with most tight ends in coverage.
It’s also notable that Moses is a reliable tackler in space. Not only does he hustle in pursuit, routinely take safe angles to the ball when he starts out away from the play, but he is a good wrap-up tackler. He rarely simply tries to knock ball carriers over, instead using his arms, wrapping up, and getting them on the ground without allowing yards after contact.
That being said, even if he is taken off the field in obvious running downs, Moses will still need to improve how he deals with blockers to help his pass rush. Moses seems to be the type of linebacker who would rather run around blockers than take them on directly, but sometimes he will have to do just that. He has good timing and burst as a pass rusher, but his blitzes can be blunted if linemen are able to get their hands on him.
Moses has the potential to be a true three-down linebacker in a modern defense, but he will likely need to start as a sub-package player until he improves how he deals with blockers.