A year after winning the Super Bowl and bidding farewell to Ray Lewis, the Ravens selected Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley with the 17th overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. The question many people have is, will Mosley replace Lewis, one of the greatest linebackers of all time? It may not be a completely fair question, but it is worth considering.
Any time a great player leaves, their replacement is analyzed, compared, and scrutinized. It’s just part of the deal, though Mosley has the benefit of coming in a full season after Lewis retired. So he’s not technically Lewis’ “replacement.” He is, however, the best linebacker prospect the Ravens have had in a while.
Mosley came in to the draft widely considered as a plug-and-play prospect for a 3-4 defense. He had a productive college career, starting all 13 games as a freshman. Mosley went on to win both the Butkus Award as the nation’s top linebacker and SEC Defensive Player of the Year in 2013 after racking up 108 tackles with 9 sacks, five pass breakups, and a forced fumble.
Mosley’s strongest attributes are his instincts and character. He is explosive in his movements and plays sideline-to-sideline. Mosley works hard in the weight room and has great intensity and energy. He was a respected team leader and film junkie at Alabama on a team that won two national championships.
The biggest knocks on Mosley start with a somewhat checkered injury history. He suffered elbow, hip, and shoulder injuries in college and has a slightly narrow build. At the NFL level, he will have to learn how to use more finesse vs. power in the tackling game. Matching up with big TE’s could initially expose him in coverage.
Mosley has great character befitting of a team like the Ravens and should prove to be a tackling machine at the NFL level. He has great anticipation and is rarely ever out of position. His intelligence and hard work will compensate for his lack of elite speed and natural pass rush ability.
Mosley was easily a top ten player in regards to talent in this year’s draft and was by far the best inside linebacker prospect. He is a fantastic fit for the Ravens both in positional need and character. Mosley may not live up to the greatness that a certain Ray Lewis did, but at the very least appears to be a future Pro Bowl player who will contribute for years to come.