The New York Giants surprised and disappointed fans by not selecting a linebacker out of the 2013 NFL draft class, but in the long run, the Giants made the right decision. The 2014 linebacker draft class will be more talented, and an absolute stud in C.J. Mosley will be part of it. So, let’s learn a little about Mosley’s positives and negatives about his game. In addition to learning what he can bring to the Giants’ defense, and if the Giants will have the capital to get him in the 2014 draft.
So, starting with the positives about Mosley’s game is his speed. The most recent forty yard dash on Mosley was in the 4.45-4.67 range and every bit of that speed is on tape. He flies around the football field, and rarely gets beat to the corner. However, the most important point about his speed is in pass coverage. While Mosley is a little overrated as a pass defender, and he will need time to develop more awareness on an island, it doesn’t mean he doesn’t possess the physical tools to become a great pass defender.
He displayed great change-of-direction skills and is a fluid athlete without much wasted movement, which translates to his potential as a NFL pass defender as well. The speed also is an asset in his pass rushing prowess. I rarely found a moment where he didn’t overwhelm offensive linemen with his speed coming through the hole, and any defensive coordinator would be dumb to not dial-up as many delayed blitzes as possible with this kid on the field. The bottom-line is Mosley has game breaking speed and it’s hard not to notice, but his weaknesses are subtle and worrisome. With the most glaring weakness being how consistently he sheds blocks.
The majority of the games I watched including the Championship game, showed a football player who takes too long to get off blocks. It’s not that Mosley won’t eventually get off the blocks, but it takes him half a second to a second too long to break them. That half a second to a second may not seem like much, but in college, that’s a 10-20 yard gain. In the NFL, that’s a 20 yard gain to touchdown. Mosley has to become more consistent at shedding blocks in 2013, because otherwise, he will be a liability in run defense.
And the last issue he needs to improve upon is in open field tackling. It’s easy to find Mosley in a gang tackle, but the rare times he’s one on one with a running back or tight end in space shows Mosley not always making the play consistently. One of the main attributes a weakside linebacker at any level of competition must have is open field tackling, and I wasn’t impressed with his ability to tackle consistently in the open field. The inability to shed blocks and make open field tackles consistently will make Mosley’s speed talent meaningless.
Despite all those weakness, what will endear Mosley to the Giants’ draft room is his leadership qualities. The Giants’ defense has become fractured with a lot of young, talented football players, but there are not many players you can point to who can lead the troops. In fact, the Giants’ haven’t had a solid leadership figure on defense since Antonio Pierce retired after the 2009 season. The Giants have relied on veteran leadership a little too much, but Mosley can bring the type of leadership that has not been seen on the Giants’ roster for years. The value of adding a leader to a young roster on defense is immeasurable to the Giants’ long-term defense prospects, but the cost of landing Mosley in the 2014 draft will take another season of missing the Playoffs in 2013.
I see Mosley developing into a mid-first-round pick, and missing the Playoffs will put the Giants right in that range. It will be interesting to see if that happens, but every Giants fan needs to keep their eye on Mosley. He can fit a team need at linebacker, and he just might be there when the Giants pick in 2014. There are a lot of linebacker prospects in the 2014 draft class, but C.J. Mosley has the most overall talent and leadership qualities to take the Giants’ defense up another notch. Success might prevent the Giants from setting their defense up for another decade, but there is no doubt in my mind that Mosley is the linebacker for the Giants in 2014.
James Cobern is a NFC East Division Leader for TPF and can be contacted at JCobern@ThePenaltyFlagBlog.com or follow him on Twitter @Jmcobern1