C.J. Mosley Ready To Lead
In C.J. Mosley's two seasons in Baltimore, he quickly established himself as one of the new faces of Baltimore's defense. He made the Pro Bowl as a rookie, took over the play calling duties and has played almost every single defensive snap.
On a defense filled with veterans like Terrell Suggs, Elvis Dumervil, Lardarius Webb and Jimmy Smith, the 23-year-old linebacker set himself apart.
Now he's ready to take on even more responsibility.
"I'm ready to be back," Mosley said during an interview with WBAL radio. "I'm ready to lead the team. It's time to go."
Mosley returned to Baltimore this week and did the interview during a local charity event to support O.J. Brigance's foundation, the Brigance Brigade.
During the interview (you can listen to the full segment below), Mosley talked about stepping into more of a leadership role now that he's heading into his third season. He is known as a quiet player, but his ability commands respect from his teammates and he has earned the right to speak his mind.
"Most of that comes down to how players play," he said. "That kind of [happens] by example, that's how I've been. But there's going to come a time when someone has to be that vocal leader. I'm not really one to talk, but there's going to come a time in this upcoming season where I'm going to have to say something. It might not be what someone wants to hear, and I might not want to say it because it might affect our friendship, but we're all here for one thing and that's to win a championship."
Taking on that vocal role isn't necessarily foreign to Mosley.
He was a two-time captain at Alabama and said he embraced that responsibility because the team needed it from him. The Ravens don't have a leadership void in the locker room, but Mosley's ascension is natural for one of the team's best young players.
The 2014 first-round pick is someone the Ravens will likely build the defense around in the coming years, and he likes what he has seen from the front office this offseason. The Ravens have added Pro Bowl safety Eric Weddle and re-signed cornerback Shareece Wright, and Mosley is confident the Ravens can bounce back from last year's 5-11 season.
"We've made some great offseason moves and we have the draft coming up, so I'm excited about that," Mosley said. "I'm ready to see this defense grow. We had our ups and downs, offense had its ups and downs, but we're really excited about this defense. We're trying to turn our year around."
Story Behind Mosley's Jersey Number
In the interview with WBAL's Keith Mills and Brett Hollander, Mosley spent time talking about Brigance and the impact he has made in his life. Mosley also shared the story of how he ended up wearing Brigance's old No. 57, which the Ravens had not used since Bart Scott left in 2008.
"[John Harbaugh] pretty much gave me a homework assignment before I even started," Mosley said. "He texted me and said he wanted me to look up O.J. Brigance's story, and told me he would have a question for me when I would come in."
When Mosley came to Baltimore, Harbaugh asked what he thought about wearing No. 57.
The rookie linebacker was floored.
"When C.J. got drafted – he's such a quality guy, a sharp guy – it just seemed like it made sense," Harbaugh told WBAL. "I of course asked O.J., and O.J. was all for it because he had followed C.J. a little bit, and watched his interviews, and I think he was really impressed with him. C.J. was overwhelmed. He was pretty amazed by the honor that it was."
What Kind Of Deal Will Brandon Williams Get?
Another budding star in the middle of Baltimore's defense is nose tackle Brandon Williams. He has earned recognition as one of the league's best interior defensive linemen, and he could also be part of Baltimore's defensive foundation for the next several years.
But Ravens Owner Steve Bisciotti acknowledged at last week's owners meeting that it will be tough to re-sign Williams before he enters the final year of his contract this season, and that means Williams will have a big payday coming his way a year from now.
"A contract extension from the Ravens would give Williams and his young family even more security and allow him to have an even greater impact in the community," wrote Jeff Zrebiec of The Baltimore Sun. "But if you're Williams, how do you ignore the contracts that other interior defensive linemen got earlier this month?"
Determining exactly what kind of deal Williams will get is an impossible task, but Zrebiec pointed to some potential comparisons based on this year's free-agent market. The most similar player is probably nose tackle Damon Harrison, who cashed in with the New York Giants on a five-year deal worth $46.5 million.
"Just imagine what Williams could get if he has a strong 2016 season and the salary cap goes up even more next year," Zrebiec wrote.
AFC North Voted NFL's Best Division
In today's example of stretching to fill offseason content, NFL.com released their rankings of the NFL's toughest divisions.
For people who consistently watch the bruising style of football in the AFC North, it will come as little surprise that Baltimore's division was voted the toughest in the league.
"The expected resurgence of the Ravens gives the division three legitimate contenders, not to mention three bona fide human starting quarterbacks," NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal wrote.
This is the fifth year in a row in which NFL.com's writers have ranked the divisions, and it's the first time since 2012 that the NFC West has not taken the top spot.