2020 NFL Draft: Dylan Moses is worth the hype

Dylan Moses is on the verge of becoming the next great Alabama linebacker. His story should culminate in Las Vegas at the 2020 NFL Draft.

Take a moment and close your eyes.

Picture yourself back in 8th Grade. A time where your biggest concern was probably that algebra test next week. A time before you needed to focus on a career or your future. Now imagine, at that same age, LSU comes knocking on your door. Then Alabama. And then Texas. And then Ole Miss, Florida, Nebraska, and UCLA.

Imagine waking up at 4:30, doing 400 push-ups, 800 sit-ups and running a mile, only to do it again the next morning. And the morning after that. And every single morning for the rest of your teenage years.

Now open your eyes.

That was Dylan Moses’ middle school experience.

Early Years

To do my best Forrest Gump impression, “Life is like a marathon”. You want to pace yourself until that opportune moment. Stay patient and reserve energy for when it’s most needed. When you reach your peak too early, however, it’s usually all downhill from there. For better or for worse, Dylan Moses sprinted those first few miles of his life. The prized linebacker was getting Lebron James and Bo Jackson comparisons before he could even drive a car (14 years old). On the surface, this type of attention and media recognition was a blessing. He had the platform and abilities to be something special. Like my good old pal Peter Parker says though, “with great power comes great responsibility”. Editor’s Note – Uncle Ben said that, not Peter.

You see it with child actors all of the time. We’ve seen it with other young recruits like David Sills. The hype serves as a deteriorate, slowly eroding at you until that once sturdy rock has turned to ash. For Moses, that outside pressure stood about as tall as Mount Everest. Yet here we are, two years into his Crimson Tide career, and 7 years removed from his first collegiate offer. He’s already climbed to the top.

Choosing Bama

Moses started his Alabama career in an interesting spot. Not only was the athletic specimen a 5-star recruit with elite upside, but he had also spurned his “hometown” team, LSU, in the process. His decision to commit to Saban and Bama came as a very big surprise, and it was a choice few saw coming. After all, the Tigers had been the front-runners for his services ever since that esteemed Grade 8 year. Therefore, in true toxic fashion, Moses faced some serious backlash, mainly from Louisiana fans, for his choice in program. None of this was warranted, but even more pressure and expectations now stood on his heavy shoulders. He needed to play well. And he needed to do it right away.

Year 1

Moses’ Alabama career started off well, but with some expected growing pains. Suiting up in 8 games, he made his impact felt, notching 30 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, and 1 interception in limited snaps. It wasn’t anything groundbreaking, but it was certainly solid, especially given his age and Alabama’s stacked line-up. With so many older NFL prospects available on the roster, to even crack the rotation was an impressive feat. Heck, even Quinnen Williams couldn’t even get a permanent spot on the defense until his redshirt sophomore year. For reference, here are a few statistics from the true freshman seasons of some top linebackers.

Devin White – 8 games, 30 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 1 sack
Roquan Smith – 10 games, 20 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss
Leighton Vander-Esch – 8 games, 20 tackles, 1 tackle for loss

Year 2

Much like a movie trilogy, Moses’ first year served as an origin story. Sure, it had some great moments. He got to show off his skills. He battled some fierce villains. But ultimately, it still left you wanting more. That wasn’t the case in 2018. Compiling 86 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, and 3.5 sacks over the course of a full 15 game season, Moses’ delivered a “Dark Knight” level sequel, and took over for 1st round pick Rashaan Evans in a seamless fashion. In fact, the sophomore also severely outplayed Mack Wilson, Cleveland’s 5th Round selection. Now heading into his junior year, Moses is not only a favorite for the All-SEC 1st team but also the Dick Butkus front-runner (Top LB in CFB). The table has been set to end his trilogy in fitting style. All he has to do now is grab a fork and start eating.

What’s Next?

Having been a running back for most of his life, Moses is still extremely new to the LB position. And although it doesn’t show often, there are times throughout the tape where it’s noticeable. He doesn’t necessarily trust his keys as well as he should, gets sucked down low on play-action passes and can rely far too heavily on his athleticism. However, with the way the NFL is headed, Moses is exactly the type of new breed linebacker that has been coveted recently. We’ve seen it with guys like Deion Jones. We saw it with Devin White this past draft. Linebackers with range, speed, and physicality are always going to be prioritized. Moses has all three in spades.

An even freakier athlete and player than White, the Alabama product has a shot at the 1st overall selection in the 2020 NFL Draft with a strong junior campaign. If that isn’t justified hype, I don’t know what is.

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