2020 Alabama Player Profile: Middle Linebacker Dylan Moses
The Alabama Crimson Tide consistently has a defense that is highlighted by a star middle linebacker to lead. The Tide was looking to become one of the most efficient defenses in the nation last year until the season-ending knee injury to junior linebacker Dylan Moses shortly before the 2019 season. Senior middle linebacker Joshua McMillion also suffered a knee injury before the season. While Christian Harris and Shane Lee played efficiently as true freshmen starters, the defense suffered a serious loss of production to the value that Moses possesses. Their job as a leading middle linebacker goes beyond simply playing in the middle of an Alabama defense.
A critical part of returning Bama’s defense to a high level is the healthy return of middle linebacker Dylan Moses. He has been the orchestrator of on-the-field play-calling to help the Tide’s defense adjust to the changing formations from the opposing offense. Former Tide linebackers like C.J. Mosley, Reuben Foster, and Rolando McClain have filled this role.
The Way It Was
In the 2018 season, Moses was a full-time starter as a sophomore and took over the play-calling roles. That season, he accounted for 86 total tackles, 45 solo tackles, 10 tackles for loss, and three-and-a-half sacks. He was named second-team All-SEC and second-team All-American for his productivity. That season, the Tide ranked 12th in the nation in points allowed per game (18.1) and 19th in rushing yards allowed per game (122). Alabama’s efficiency in the running game slipped last season as they ranked 37th in rushing yards allowed per game (137.4). Moses is still regarded as one of the best defensive players in the nation coming off the knee injury. Athlon Sports named him as a preseason first-team selection and ranked 17th of top overall players. USA Today has Moses ranked as the 10th best prospect for the 2021 NFL Draft.
Moses Is Back And Hungry For One More Season
While Moses could’ve taken his talents and efficiency to the 2020 NFL Draft, he chose to come back due to unfinished business. The last game that Moses played in his collegiate career was the 2019 College Football National Championship loss to the Clemson Tigers on January 7th. Moses was showing signs of healing near the end of the 2019 regular season. This season will be an important season for Moses to show his ability to rebound from a major injury. Moses’ ability to get back on the field and play efficiently will boost his 2021 NFL Draft stock. He is looking to play like one of the most consistent linebackers in the nation. In his entire time in his career, Moses has only missed four tackles. He will need to be a more efficient player in defending the passing game.
Looking To Restore Tide Defense To Championship Caliber
Last season, the Tide’s efficiency in their defense slipped due to the absence of Moses in the linebacker corps. Lee and Harris were highly productive and efficient playmakers on stopping the run and passing game. The responsibility of on-the-field playcalling and team captain shifted to safety Xavier McKinney. Lee was second on the team in total tackles (86) and solo tackles (47) as he took over the playmaking responsibilities of Moses. Harris was fourth on the team in total tackles accounted for (61) as he played well in defending the pass. With Moses, McMillion, Lee, and Harris coming back for the 2020 season, it creates a crowded inside linebacker corps. Moses and Harris are projected to start at the two middle linebacker positions for the season. Lee, who was second in tackles behind McKinney, is projected to back up Moses.
The role of field-general for Nick Saban’s defense shifts back to Moses. While McKinney was not an inefficient play-caller on the field, but the Tide have more success from a play-caller in the second level of the defense than the far end of the defense. It might be more efficient to have Lee play as an outside linebacker due to his ability to create a pass rush. Last season, Lee accounted for 6.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks. The projected starting outside linebackers in Christopher Allen only accumulated stats in five games. King Mwikuta accumulated stats in only two games last season. There would be less pressure on the Tide’s defense with more experienced linebackers on the field. Look for Moses to lead the Tide to a potential top-five scoring defense in 2020.