NFL.com analyst and former NFL scout Daniel Jeremiah takes a "first look" at some of college football's top players for 2020. This is the 15th in a series of scouting reports that will run throughout the offseason.
I spent some time studying Alabama's Dylan Moses last summer following his outstanding sophomore season. He was regarded as the top returning linebacker in the country. Unfortunately, he suffered a knee injury in fall camp and missed the entire 2019 campaign. After considering his options for 2020, he decided to return to the Tide and is ready to reclaim his standing with NFL scouts. Here's my scouting report:
Height, weight: 6-foot-3, 235 pounds (school measurements).
2018 statistics: 116 tackles (64 solo), 10 for loss, 3.5 sacks, one pass defensed, one forced fumble.
Game tape watched: Tennessee (Oct. 20, 2018), LSU (Nov. 3, 2018), Auburn (Nov. 24, 2018).
What I liked: Moses is a tall, rangy athlete with tremendous energy and explosiveness. He plays downhill against the run, aggressively and violently taking on blockers to thump off and free himself to make tackles. He has outstanding lateral range and he's a sure tackler in space.
He provides excellent versatility against the pass. He rushes off the edge, covers tight ends and instinctively patrols his area as a zone defender. He does come off the field at times in certain packages, but he makes his presence felt when he's left out there.
Where he needs to improve: I love his aggressive style of play. However, there are times when Moses wins the battle but loses the war. There are far too many examples of him aggressively seeking contact and destroying blockers without locating the football and making a play. It's easier to help a player rein that in versus trying to encourage him to be more aggressive, though.
Along those same lines, he needs to develop a plan as a pass rusher. He has the speed, strength and athleticism to excel in this area, but he lacks hand moves and a discernible strategy to win one-on-one matchups.
Biggest takeaway: I mentioned his energy earlier. That is one of must underappreciated traits of a linebacker. I witnessed it firsthand during my time as a scout for the Baltimore Ravens. Ray Lewis brought passion and energy to every single practice and game. Teammates feed off that energy. I see that from Moses in the games I studied. He goes 100 miles per hour at all times. You can see his love for the game in the way he plays.
He reminds me of: I see some similarities to Myles Jack when he was coming out of UCLA. Both players were very versatile and they play with the same energy. Teams were split on where to play Jack at the next level. Some liked him inside, others outside and then a few teams even liked him better on the other side of the ball (he was an accomplished running back, especially early in his time with the Bruins). I like Moses best as an off-the-ball linebacker. That's where Jack, who missed most of his final college season with a knee injury of his own, ended up and he's enjoyed a very strong career. I had a higher grade on Jack, but I expect Moses to be a difference-making starter very early in his NFL career.