CJ Mosley is from Alabama - should that make the Miami Dolphins worried?

Ronald Martinez

CJ Mosley is considered one of the top linebackers in the NFL Draft and may be a target for the Miami Dolphins in the first round. However, will he translate well to the NFL or will he struggle to find his place?

There has been some talk recently about how Alabama players do once they get to the NFL. Some say that they are ready for the NFL due to the rigors of the program under head coach Nick Saban. Other say that the program is so rigorous that the players come to the NFL already beat up. With the Dolphins rumored to be highly interested in linebacker CJ Mosley, I broke down data to see if there is any correlation between coming from Alabama and having success or not in the NFL.

For this column, I only looked at defensive players from Alabama since the 2008 NFL Draft, which would have been after Saban's first season in 2007. Since that time, there have been five defensive players that have come out of Alabama that have been drafted in the first round. Here are their grades over the course of their career, courtesy of Pro Football Focus.

Player Year Round Overall Team Position Overall Grade Run Defense Pass Rush Pass Defense
Kareem Jackson 2010 1 20 Texans CB -1.47 0.8 0..0 -9.4
Marcell Dareus 2011 1 3 Bills DL 18.76 3.66 13.63 0.83
Mark Barron 2012 1 12 Buccaneers S -4.65 1.25 -1.3 -4.4
Dre Kirkpatrick 2012 1 17 Bengals CB -5.0 -3.15 0.3 -1.95
Dee Milliner 2013 1 9 Jets CB -2.6 1.5 -0.1 -7.4

 

Here, we have a wide variance of grades and success. Barron has struggled in just about all key areas. Kirkpatrick is still trying to find his groove and Jackson is still trying to find his place as well. It's too early to say anything about Milliner, especially since almost all cornerbacks struggle in their first year. The only player you can say for sure that is great is Dareus, who has been an absolute monster for the Bills.

To get a closer look at any type of correlation, let's look at the linebackers who have come out of Alabama. Since the 2008 draft, only four linebackers have been drafted into the NFL. They were Rolando McClain in 2010, Courtney Upshaw in 2012, Dont'a Hightower in 2012 and Nico Johnson in 2013. Here are their grades over the course of their career, courtesy of Pro Football Focus.

Player Year Round Overall Team Position Overall Grade Run Defense Pass Rush Pass Defense
Rolando McClain 2010 1 8 Raiders LB 4.06 7.4 0.2 -3.06
Dont'a Hightower 2012 1 25 Patriots LB 13.0 10.45 2.2 0.15
Courtney Upshaw 2012 2 35 Ravens LB -2.15 8.9 -11.75 -1.25
Nico Johnson 2013 4 99 Chiefs LB -0.4 -0.4 -0.10 0.10

 

If we take a quick look, we can see the wide variance of each player. While McClain had good grades throughout his short career, he battled injuries and personal issues and is no longer in the NFL. Upshaw is great against the run but struggles in all other areas. He is entering his third year so it's quite possible he has a breakout year. Johnson was drafted last year and only played in two games so it's still way too early to make a decision on him. Hightower is the only one that we can say for certain that has been great and has lived up to his status and hype. It's truly a mixed bag here and doesn't give us many clear answers as to what to expect from a linebacker from Alabama.

Let's take a look at Mosley's stats in his college career. In four seasons, he had 319 tackles, six and a half sacks, five interceptions, and two forced fumbles. In comparison, Luke Kuechly has 320 tackles, three sacks, six interceptions and zero forced fumbles in just two years in the NFL. NaVorro Bowman has been in the NFL since 2010 and has played four seasons. He has 482 tackles, nine sacks, three interceptions and seven forced fumbles.

As far as injuries go, Mosley dislocated his elbow in 2011, dislocated his hip in 2012 and had offseason shoulder surgery to repair a torn right labrum in 2012. He was limited at the combine due to a right shoulder injury and didn't bench press or run the 40-yard dash.

If you're taking a linebacker in the first round of the NFL draft on a team that has plenty of needs, you need to be damn sure that he's going to be elite and worth passing up other positions. Does Mosley look like he is going to be elite based off his stats in four years in Alabama? No, he doesn't.

With that said, things change in the NFL and you're usually surrounded with better talent, which might help you play better and accumulate better stats. However, the information provided in this column should make you think twice about whether or not you will be happy if the Dolphins select Mosley in the first round.

Matthew Cannata is a columnist for The Phinsider. Be sure to follow him on Twitter: @PhinManiacs

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