There is only one name that should be discussed in the same sentence as 2014 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. That name is CJ Mosley.
CJ Mosley was picked 17th overall in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft. While it was believed that replacing Ray Lewis was impossible, the Baltimore Ravens under general manager, Ozzie Newsome, have done just that. Not only has the Ravens’ front office picked a dependable replacement for the future Hall of Famer, Ray Lewis, they have picked a player whose first year in the league overshadows Ray’s rookie campaign.
Week after week CJ Mosley proved to be the hardest working young player. He was regularly all over the field blowing up running backs for a loss and blanketing tight ends. In his rookie season, No. 57 has proven himself to be an elite defender, sowing the seeds of NFL greatness through extra time in the weight room and film study that would make even Jon Gruden proud.
There is no other rookie candidate that comes close to Mosley’s on-field contributions to their respective defenses. Terrell Suggs recently told the Baltimore Sun “He plays every snap. He never comes off the field. Never. He’s playing special, phenomenal, that’s why we call him half man, half amazing.”
The product of the University of Alabama has a football IQ that is superior to the other rookie linebackers this year and it clearly showed up on game day. What usually takes players a season or two to grasp, Mosley has already mastered. Because of his advanced understanding of NFL defensive schemes, Mosley was a starter from day one.
This season Mosley ranked seventh in total tackles in the league. The up and coming star also had two interceptions and three sacks. He has an incredible on-field presence only seen in elite players and is the first Ravens rookie to make the Pro Bowl in franchise history. To put this in prospective, only three rookies were named to the Pro Bowl this year. Mosley hit the ground running and won Defensive Rookie of the Month in both October and December as he showed an uncanny awareness adjusting to the speed of the game at the pro level.
Mosley is a three-down linebacker who can roam sideline to sideline—much in the manner Ray Lewis during his prime. But the most important attribute that puts this rookie in a class by himself, is his exceptional character both on and off the field.
CJ is humble and unselfish in victory or defeat. He puts the team before himself at all times.
During the Miami Dolphins game, Mosley played with a cast on his wrist and endured severe pain in his knee but still led the team in tackles. When asked about playing with injury he simply stated.” I have to put my body on the line for this team. We have somewhere to be at the end of this year and in January, so we have to do what we have to do.”
As the Ravens enter January with a wild-card berth, CJ Mosley looks much more like a seasoned veteran in his prime than a first-year player hitting the proverbial “rookie wall”.
Officially Mosley is a rookie.
But he sure doesn’t play like one.