How has C.J. Mosley looked as a rookie linebacker at offseason practices since being selected by the Baltimore Ravens with the 17th pick of the NFL Draft on May 8?
The assessment of Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com, based on Ravens’ open OTAs, has been typical: “The athletic ability of first-round pick C.J. Mosley stands out even in individual drills. All of the Ravens inside linebackers were asked to backpedal and then jump up to knock down the pass. Mosley was fluid moving backward and easily leapt higher than anyone in the group. It wasn’t even close.”
But before the former Theodore High and Alabama standout gets his name at the top of Baltimore’s official depth chart, he has to get past Arthur Brown, a second-year player from Kansas State, who has had praise heaped on him as well throughout the offseason workouts, where he’s lined up with the first-team defense more often than not.
“Art Brown has improved light years from a year ago,” Baltimore defensive coordinator Dean Pees said. “This guy has really had a great camp, I think. He is so improved from a year ago. I’m really excited about him.”
Mosley said he doesn’t mind not being written directly into the starting lineup on draft night.
“Pressure makes you better,” Mosley said. “It makes you great. I don’t want to go where it’s going to be easy for me. I don’t want anything handed to me because therefore I won’t learn any life lessons on the field or off the field.”
Mosley and Brown are competing to join Daryl Smith as the starters at inside linebacker for the Ravens. Last year’s starter beside Smith, Jameel McClain, signed with the New York Giants. But the Ravens aren’t seeking someone to replace only McClain. They’re looking for a linebacker to follow future Hall of Famer Ray Lewis as the leader of the Baltimore defense. Lewis retired after the 2012 season.
“Growing up, Ray Lewis was my favorite player,” Mosley said, “and therefore I was a Ravens fan. I’ve been watching that defense dominate a long time. It’s going to be an honor for me just to help that team get where it needs to be and, ultimately, win a Super Bowl.”
Mosley and Brown had a connection before becoming Baltimore teammates. After the 2012 season, the Football Writers Association of American selected Brown as a first-team All-American linebacker along with Georgia’s Jarvis Jones and Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o, who were unanimous All-Americans. The selection of Brown kept Mosley from being a unanimous All-American, too, an achievement he reached after the 2013 season.
After 10 voluntary OTAs, the Ravens holds mandatory minicamp on Tuesday through Thursday.