Alabama, as every college football fan knows, is an absolute juggernaut, a behemoth and a factory of talent, especially when it comes to linebackers.
Every year it feels like Alabama has a linebacker who is regarded amongst the top in the class and not just for linebackers, I’m talking about the whole class.
Since 2000, there have been fifteen Crimson Tide linebackers get drafted into the NFL, nine of which were drafted in the top 50 of their respective drafts and in that group there are everything from Superbowl champions to multiple Pro Bowlers to guys that haven’t really made the leap yet.
However, the bottom line is, Tuscaloosa is the place to be if you’re a young linebacker – Alabama, to me at least, is Linebacker U.
Before I get into the meat of the article; for anyone who is going back and looking up who those fifteen guys are, YES, I am counting Mark Barron as a linebacker. He may have been drafted as a safety but Barron was amongst the first of the hybrid safety/linebackers… Barron was doing that before the Chargers made it cool, man.
In recent years, the production line of talent at the linebacker position has been unbelievable, listen to these names since 2012; Mark Barron, Dont’a Hightower, C.J Mosley, Reggie Ragland, Reuben Foster, Rashaan Evens and Mack Wilson.
We can go even further back into the 2000’s for guys like Rolando McLain and DeMeco Ryans and then to the 80’s and 90’s for Derrick Thomas too. ‘Bama have been producing these guys for decades!
I get it, they’ve not all the recent guy have been hits in the NFL and Mack Wilson slipped to the 5th round after being rated as the best linebacker in the class prior to last season but my, oh my were these guys all excellent college players, in fact, we’ve known that all of those guys can play ball every since they were in high school. That is an all star cast of high school athletes… Every single one of those guys was rated either 4 or 5 stars coming out of high school and a couple of them were rated as the #1 linebacker in the country when they were recruited.
So what am I talking about? Alabama just recruits well, right?
Well… Yeah but that’s not the point. Nick Saban and his staff get these guys to go on several levels whilst they’re under his tutelage – nobody rests on their laurels and sits back just waiting for things to happen, they all go out and work, both on and off their field and they win National Championships, over and over and over again, and as much as fans will rave about Alabama’s receivers this year and how they’ve always been a talent factory for running backs, we all know that the backbone of the Tide, is their defense.
And who are the heartbeat of the defense? Tone setting linebackers.
Let’s have a look at the college careers of those players I’ve mentioned and see what sort of talent they’re creating down there.
The answer really is all kinds. All kinds of linebackers, from tackling machines like Mosley, Ragland and Foster (who all have 100+ total tackle seasons) to guys who are modern day coverage linebackers such as Wilson with a nose for picking off the ball to those who are a little bit of everything and can get to the QB.
So, I hear you ask, who’s next?
That would be Dylan Moses. Moses was almost literally born to be a linebacker. His Father trained him from around 9 years old to be a linebacker, so much so that Moses was running a 4.40, 40 yards dash at 14 years old and training with college freshmen a couple of years after that.
Moses is listed at 6’3, 235lbs so he’s around what you expect for the modern day linebacker who can both cover sideline to sideline and come downhill to lay the wood on a ball carrier.
Aside from his physical attributes, you can see on tape that he simply knows how to play the position of linebacker; Moses is always communicating and even last season as a Sophomore, he is telling his more experienced team mates where to line up. Another thing which shows his football IQ is that he seldom gets sucked into play-action and rarely wastes steps or mis-steps in the wrong direction on a play.
I’m really looking forward to watching Moses next season as he assumes a bigger role in the Crimson Tide defense. Moses hasn’t been a full time starter and has come of the field in certain situations but I feel like he shouldn’t miss many snaps in 2019, save for when Alabama are blowing their opponents out and starters are sure to be rested.
I feel if we see Moses continue on his upward trend, the 2020 NFL draft will be yet another draft where we see a Crimson Tide ‘backer go in the first round.
Keep your eyes peeled next week for the next installment of Supply Lines, next week we’ll be on the offensive side of the ball.
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