The Broncos’ off ball linebackers were a reliably solid unit in 2020. Alexander Johnson saw his role expand to take on more blitzing as Fangio adjusted to life without Von Miller. Josey Jewell stepped into the void when Todd Davis was released in September and overperformed expectations. Together with the safeties, the duo served as the most consistent part of the Broncos defense as they combined to play more than 1900 snaps.
Both Jewell and Johnson return for 2021 with contracts that expire after the season. Questions about their future as well as John Elway’s attempt to acquire Patrick Queen in the 2020 draft does mean there’s a real possibility George Paton is looking for a dynamic three down linebacker.
Could Dylan Moses be that guy with a bounce back to peak form?
Dylan Moses with the coverage on Kyle Pitts pic.twitter.com/hq6UE9fmBT— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) March 23, 2021
At a glance:
Moses received attention from football factories as an eighth grader and received his first scholarship offer when he was just 14-years old. Hype followed him throughout his career until a knee injury in 2019 derailed his junior season. He returned to Tuscaloosa this past year and played in 12 games as the Crimson Tide rolled to a National Title, but the year proved challenging. Moses lost his grandmother to Covid-19 and spent the year playing through knee pain.
Why he fits the Broncos
(Scouting report assumes return to pre-injury form)
- Started 31 of 39 games he played for the Tide dating back to freshman year.
- Played all three linebacker spots in Saban’s multiple defense and has experience along playing edge along line of scrimmage and splitting out on backs in space.
- Very good athletic ability, explosiveness, and long speed, good lateral quickness.
- Very good competitive toughness shows through both his battle back to the field, he’s also a player who doesn’t shrink in big moments.
- Solid mental processing overall and should be able to pick up Fangio defense in time.
- When he reads run and sent on the offensive he will beat offensive lineman’s snap to get into the backfield. Very promising gap shooter.
- Solid play strength shows up working through blocks and mashing at the point of attack.
- Solid against inside runs and does a nice job leveraging gaps when he makes the correct read.
- Good against outside run and does a nice job leveraging back to help and taking correct angles.
- Solid in zone coverage with good drops, leveraging, and breaks on the ball.
- Good in man coverage and shows the short area movement skills to mirror backs and tight ends.
- Good ball skill and will try to dislodge the ball at the catch point.
- Should be a very good blitzer in the right hands.
1st and goal from the 1-yard line and Alabama has a defender coming on late. Doesn't matter because Dylan Moses stops Kyle Trask. pic.twitter.com/1ZbXWfdHeX— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) March 23, 2021
Reasons for concern
- Was not the same player following ACL reconstruction in 2020 and best projection accounts for full recovery.
- Two big things I notice on his 2020 tape after studying 2018 is a hitch when shifting directions (this isn’t a surprise following ACL tear) and less physicality overall.
- He played through pain in 2020 and considered retiring from football following his ACL tear.
- Standing 6’1” and the lack of length creates less margin for error separating from blocks and rushing the passer.
- While mental processing is solid overall, he will second guess reads and can be fooled by misdirection. Needs to become more disciplined with his eyes and trust what he sees.
- Explosive hitting masks the fact he isn’t a true banger at the point of attack. Could become solid in this area at the next level, but he’s better slipping blocks than stacking.
What I’ve seen / heard / read
- Nick Saban’s comment on Dylan Moses’ knee caught my eye.
“We knew going into the season — previous experience with guys like Dont’a Hightower, who had injuries like this — sometimes it takes these guys a full year to actually get back to 100 percent,” Saban said of Hightower’s 2009 torn ACL. “Dylan has done an outstanding job and shown a lot of perseverance, leadership on our team. I’m pleased with the way that he’s played, pleased with the way that he’s handled his circumstance. Certainly he’s made a positive contribution to our team.”
- Moses has worn four different numbers in his collegiate career. During his first season he switched from number seven to eight so he could play on special teams as the same time as Trevon Diggs. This lasted until he switched to number 18 because of a similar conflict with Josh Jacobs. Following his freshman season he switched from number 18 to 32, the jersey worn by former team captain Rashaan Evans.
“Moses is a scheme-verstile off-ball linebacker with good size and great speed to become a strong every down contributor on the NFL level, but to achieve his potential he will have to return to his pre-injury form,”
“Dylan Moses showed the athleticism needed to be a starting linebacker in the past but still seems to be hampered by his knee injury. He projects as a developmental linebacker who could have starting potential if he can regain his speed and improve his instincts,”
Like many former Alabama linebackers, Moses combines speed, agility and an above-average understanding of technique and fundamentals. However, his play is also marked by the same mechanical, robotic feel that we’ve seen from many Alabama linebackers in the past. He has sideline-to-sideline range but also does his job when asked to stick his nose into a block and spill the action wide. His willingness to take chances with a playmaking angle to the football is a little inconsistent, though. While he’s an excellent open-field tackler, he tends to play the position like a safety rather than a field alpha looking to hunt. Moses isn’t a thumper and has average field recognition and might be better suited as a run-and-chase 4-3 outside linebacker. If he can consistently play confident, attacking football, he has a chance to become a quality starter.
Moses is a well-experienced linebacker who has spent time at all three linebacker spots. A hyper-athletic and agile second-level player, he’s a fast-flowing prospect that gobbles up opportunities in space. Moses has an athletic and chiseled upper body that contains extended limbs, but contains plenty of definition on them from top to bottom. He has broad shoulders and there’s still plenty of room for growth on his physique overall. He has plenty of body armor to withstand constant contact and the physical asking price of the position combined with his physical mindset. He’s a supremely unique athlete at the position. He has true sideline-to-sideline range and it’s rare to see him outran. When able to diagnose plays cleanly, Moses flies downhill with reckless abandon. When having exposure to anyone with the opposite color jersey on, he’s looking to embarrass them in any way possible. He’s terrific at keeping his shoulders square to the line of scrimmage, but when alleyways open, Moses is not hesitant with taking the slight crease and flying through it. He has above-average instincts combined with having what seems like a ball radar with his head. There isn’t a notch level of how often he dishes out contact because it’s always turned to its highest point. He’s a heat-seeking missile that usually blows up whatever he comes into contact with. Hitting power is at an insanely high level in that when ball carriers come into contact with him, they know exactly who it was immediately. Moses is a face-up, chest-up tackler that runs his facemask through the opposition. There aren’t many times where he opts to tackle low or shy away from executing proper tackling techniques. There are few examples of where he shows bad technique or failure to wrap up. Ball carriers go down quickly after coming into contact with him.
If you only watch Moses’ 2020 tape you’ll see a middle round linebacker who isn’t as physical as his size would indicate. He’s at his best chasing and hitting and does have issues overthinking his reads and keys. Moving back to the 2018 tape reveals a far more exciting prospect as he displays very good range with an appetite for violence.
As I write this we do not know if Moses will work out at Alabama’s second Pro Day on March 30th. That bears monitoring as it would provide the linebacker a chance to prove he’s on the up and up as he continues to move farther away from the 2019 knee injury. Assuming Moses’ knee checks out, he’s an intriguing prospect.