As we hit the summer portion of the offseason, Touchdown Alabama Magazine will be releasing a series of player spotlight pieces on starters and marquee contributors for the 2019 football season. In these articles, we will dive into the strengths and weaknesses of each player, provide expectations for 2019, give NFL Draft projections for those who are eligible, and conclude with how each one can impact the team.
The next defender will be linebacker Dylan Moses.
Position: Middle Linebacker
2018 Stats: 86 total tackles, 10 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks
If you wanted to know what the ideal modern NFL linebacker looked, search no further than number 32 in crimson. Dylan Moses who was arguably the most famous 15-year-old football player ever has exactly what you are looking for at the linebacker position.
What was most impressive from Moses’s first full season starting at middle linebacker was his speed to the football. Whether it was a handoff up the middle or a scrambling quarterback, Moses took off as if he was shot out of a canon.
Speaking of the run game, the Baton Rouge, LA, native at times seemed to already know where the ball was going the second it was snapped.
When you are looking at some of the best middle linebackers from Alabama you think of guys with elite instincts. Reggie Ragland, Rolando McClain, Reuben Foster and C.J. Mosley all come to mind. I’m here to tell you that Moses has a chance to be added to that list. Guy’s who’s brains move as fast as they can run. Players who have the strength to take on 320 lb linemen and punch them in the teeth at the point of attack.
But Moses is no one trick pony for Nick Saban and the crimson tide. He has the ability to line up all over the field whether it is at his normal position or coming off the edge as a pass rusher. Although he is not the most polished rusher, Moses still has the athletic ability to beat most of the opponents he faces.
Despite his lack of elite rush moves Moses was still able to make guys look silly while blitzing. When watching closely you can see just how good the junior is at disguising his blitz’s up the middle. There were multiple times during the 2018-19 season where Moses would not even be seen by pass blocking running backs.
Leading the defense?
Pass rush moves
Before everyone clicks away I’ll address the leadership part. It isn’t that he won’t be able to do it, it’s just that we haven’t seen him as the undisputed face of the middle of the defense. Last year Mack Wilson was expected to be the main man in the middle with Moses as the defacto number two.
I do know that what I’ve seen from covering spring ball leads me to believe that Moses will have no problem becoming one of the leaders of the defense. But until then I will only go off of what I’ve seen during regular season play.
Another part of Moses’ game that isn’t as elite as his other attributes are his ball skills. In two years of playing time in Tuscaloosa Moses has just one interception. Some of that is due to the fact that he often blitzes on passing downs but at the same time he also only has a single pass deflection in his career.
Now I know that he isn’t going to be asked to rush every down this season, and Nick Saban lead defenses have always thrived on making their opponents commit turnovers.
Despite having a knack for attacking ball carriers at the line of scrimmage, Moses isn’t the most polished pass rusher. A lot of the time he is able to beat his man by flat out running by him because of his all-world speed. He also does a great job of running down scrambling quarterbacks on broken plays. But if he wants to have a future of rushing the passer at the next level, it wouldn’t hurt for him to explore improving on some of his moves.
Much like Raekwon Davis, Moses is expected to have a big 2019 season. He will finally be the undisputed heartbeat of the defense manning the middle and commanding the front seven. Moses was already one of the best linebackers in the SEC last year and will now likely look to be one of the best in the entire country. The returning junior will also likely be putting together a season that will be worthy of the Dick Butkus Award or even the Chuck Bednarik Award.
2020 NFL Draft Projection
Dylan Moses: 1st round (early-mid)
Competition: Isaiah Simmons (Clemson), Paddy Fisher (Northwestern), Shaq Quarterman (Miami), Malik Harrison (Ohio State)
Moses is certainly one of the best players in the entire SEC, and will be very interesting to see how he deals with being placed in a true leadership role. There are a lot of new faces in the second group who will likely be looking to Moses to help groom them. With his ability to stuff the run along with his sideline to sideline speed Moses will be an integral part in Alabama continuing to dominate the defensive side of the ball.
*Get the BEST Alabama football insider information, message board access, and recruiting coverage today! SIGN UP HERE to unlock our subscriber only content!*
Patrick Dowd is a Reporter for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter, via Pat_Dowd77.