Ray Lewis Reacts To Newest Linebacker C.J. Mosley
C.J. Mosley is the first inside linebacker taken by the Ravens in the first round since Ray Lewis in 1996.
With the 26th-overall pick in the franchise's* *first draft, General Manager Ozzie Newsome nailed the selection by snagging a future Hall of Famer. Obviously Lewis thought highly of Newsome's decision 18 years ago, but what does he think of Newsome's pick Thursday night?
After all, the Alabama product could be Lewis' heir in the middle of the defense.
"I think this is a great pick for Ozzie Newsome and the Baltimore Ravens," Lewis said on the ESPN draft broadcast. Lewis said Mosley has the instincts to "take the defense to the next level."
Unbeknownst to Lewis, the Ravens GM was listening to his critique in the war room at the Under Armour Performance Center.
"Listen to Ray!" Owner Steve Bisciotti said to Newsome, whose eyes were already glued to the TV.
Newsome had a big grin on his face as Lewis spoke.
"This is a leader at the position of linebacker," Lewis said, as the Ravens brain trust listened in. "I left there a couple years ago, but when you watch this kid play football, his instinct is what impresses me the most. He's very patient with his feet, he stays in the pocket and when he gets there. … He's a read-it-and-react guy."
Lewis and Mosely are going to be compared. They're both inside linebackers, they were both drafted in the first round and the Ravens are still looking for their long-term leader in the middle of the defense. Mosley will witness the installation of a Lewis's statue at M&T Bank Stadium during his rookie year.
Ravens Assistant General Manager Eric DeCosta described Mosley as a "very smart, relentless player, fast and always involved." That also sounds like a description of Lewis, who Mosley said he idolized growing up.
Those are the similarities, but the comparisons should stop there.
"The connection between Mosley and Ray Lewis is hard to deny," wrote ESPN's Jamison Hensley. "The Ravens just don't need Mosley to be Lewis.
"That's an unrealistic and unfair expectation to place on any player. Lewis was one of the best linebackers in NFL history, if not the best. He's such a legendary figure in Baltimore that the Ravens are erecting a statue of him … that literally casts a long shadow for Mosley walking into the stadium on game days."
Mosley met Lewis and talked to him in person for the first time prior to his senior year with the Crimson Tide. He said he felt like a kid in a candy shop as he chatted face-to-face with Lewis, and could cross the experience off his bucket list.
But that doesn't mean he wants to be Ray Lewis.
"My favorite two linebackers were [Brian] Urlacher and Ray Lewis, and they're two totally different guys on the field," Mosley said. "But one thing they have in common is they're both playmakers, they both control their defense, and they're leaders. As long as I have those three things, I should be good. I'm not trying to go in there and be the next [No.] 52 or anything like that. I'm going in there to be C.J. Mosley and help the team win."
Newsome echoed the sentiment: "I would never want anyone, nor would C.J., to have to come in here and try to be the next Ray Lewis. He needs to be C.J. Mosley for our football team for us to be successful."
Rapid Fire Instant Reaction To Ravens' Pick
You got Ray Lewis' reaction. Let's get more from around the Web:
Chris Burke (SI.com): "A-minus grade. This was a terrific value for the Ravens, and a pick that mimicked Pittsburgh's selection of Ryan Shazier just two spots earlier. … Questions about Mosley's durability scared some teams off, but he was ranked No. 7 on the Audibles' SI64 list of prospects headed into the draft, so finding him down here at 17 is another score for Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome. The pick may mean that [Arthur] Brown's development has not happened as quickly as the Ravens expected. More likely, though, the reality is that Baltimore saw an opportunity to throw another log onto the fire at an already strong spot. Mosley, if he stays healthy, could be an All-Pro in the very near future."
Don Banks (SI.com): "Inside linebacker clearly wasn't the biggest necessity in Baltimore, and the Ravens could have easily addressed their void at safety with both Louisville's Calvin Pryor and Alabama's Ha Ha Clinton-Dix still on the board at No. 18. But Mosley was one of the cleanest prospects in this year's draft, with a proven track record for tackling well and being in the right spot at the right time."
Todd McShay (ESPN): "C.J. Mosley is a home-run pick for the Baltimore Ravens. He was on the short list from the beginning of players they thought they had a chance to get at this No. 17 spot. When he falls there, there was no question about it. Ozzie Newsome obviously from Alabama – it's a nice story line, but the reality is he was the best player on the board. Mosley is one of the top-10 football players in this draft."
Greg A. Bedard (Monday Morning Quarterback): "Perfect Raven at a perfect spot (No. 17). They better hope Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley isn't a long-term health risk."
Jamison Hensley (ESPN): "The Ravens went with the best player available instead of need. Mosley is an impact player who will become the future face of this defense at middle linebacker. The Ravens will get criticized for not taking Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, the best safety in this draft, but they found their replacement to Ray Lewis."
Mike Preston (The Baltimore Sun): "The selection of Alabama inside linebacker C.J. Mosley is a good pick. Initially, I didn't like it because the Ravens needed more immediate help at both the offensive line and at free safety. But Mosley will give the Ravens some options in the future. Starting inside linebacker Daryl Smith is 32 years old, and the Ravens now have two young, promising players in Mosley and Arthur Brown who can work inside."
Brad Jackson (CSNBaltimore.com): "Let's just talk about the fact that they had the ability to go get him with the 17th pick. A need that they needed. They're still trying to find the replacement for Ray Lewis. Understand that this is a guy that they feel can potentially do that. … You're looking at in the next year or two potentially having C.J. Mosley and Arthur Brown, two young guys that are cheap on the salary with the rookie cap … that can start to become the face and re-build this defense to what it was in years past."
Matt Zenitz (Carroll County Times): "Taking Mosley makes a lot of sense for the Ravens. Daryl Smith is 32, and Mosley could be the long-term answer next to Arthur Brown."
Drew Forrester (WNST): "I don't like the C.J. Mosley pick. It doesn't have all that much to do with him, per-se. He was one heckuva player at Alabama. But that's just it. He was one heckuva player. At Alabama. … Seventeen names since 2010 [drafted from Alabama. Three Pro-Bowlers. … Moral of the story? Stay away from Alabama players. Well, stay away from them in rounds one and two, the rounds where teams are typically looking to "hit home runs" with their selections."
Bryan Fischer (NFL.com | College Football 24/7): "Passed with flying colors. No surprise to see Ozzie Newsome this high up. The Ravens didn't have to do a thing and landed one of the smartest linebackers to come out of the college ranks in a few years. He'll fit right in on that defense and amazingly was the first ever Alabama player taken by Newsome in the first round."
Pete Prisco (CBSSports.com): "Ravens need help next to Daryl Smith, and he isn't a kid anymore. It's a good, solid pick. GRADE: B."
Brian Billick (NFL Network): "It's always pretty easy to convince Ozzie to select an Alabama player and when he is as good as Mosley it's a slam dunk!"
Manziel Comes To AFC North, Clevelanders Go Crazy
Quarterback Johnny Manziel walked on stage at Radio City Music Hall, put on his new Cleveland Browns hat, then looked at the crowd and flashed the money sign.
"Had to," he said of the gesture. "I felt a lot of excitement in the building. That's just me."
Check it out in the SBNation GIF below.
That's the type of flashy attitude Manziel will bring to the Cleveland Browns, and to the AFC North. If he wins the starting job, you can bet pass rusher Terrell Suggs will be licking his chops.
Johnny Football will have the city of Cleveland behind him when it's time to face the purple and black.
Within 25 minutes of the Manziel pick, the Browns had sold 200 new season ticket accounts and had 300 renewals, according to Tony Grossi of ESPNCleveland.com. And as you can see in the video below, Clevelanders went crazy when Roger Goodell announced the pick at No. 22.
The question is whether he will make the AFC North rival better, or wind up like Brady Quinn off the team and looking for NFL work in just a few years.
"The interesting thing will be how the Browns handle the circus that goes with Manziel," wrote ESPN's Pat McManamon. "His every move will be watched, his every pass scrutinized. Every Brian Hoyer incompletion or interception will lead to cries for Johnny. Hoyer is the clear loser in this; he's worked his whole life to start for his hometown team, and less than an hour after Manziel's selection Browns vice president of fan engagement Kevin Griffin was tweeting a photo of a Manziel jersey.
Ravens' Top Needs Heading Into Friday
The Ravens have three picks today – one in Round 2 and two in Round 3.
After passing on top-rated safeties Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Calvin Pryor at No. 17, and going with their best player on the board, the Ravens still have their top three needs to fill.
CSNBaltimore.com's Clifton Brown ranks them:
- Finding a starting safety.
- Finding a starting right tackle
- Finding a running back
And don't forget about cornerback, says The Sun's Jeff Zrebiec.
"Five corners have also gone off the board. Ravens are going to have to look defensive back with at least one of their three 2nd day picks," he tweeted. "[I]t's going to be tough for #Ravens to upgrade at safety. Best available: Brooks from Fla St.; Vereen from Minnesota."
- "Not sure Ray Farmer's draft is going to match that of Ozzie Newsome's first one with the Ravens in 1996 (Jonathan Ogden, Ray Lewis)—like Newsome's, Farmer's started with the No. 4 and No. 26 picks—but Farmer now has a top corner (Justin Gilbert) to pair with Joe Haden, an underrated quarterback (Johnny Manziel) and an extra first-round pick next year, and he still has the third pick in the second round of this year's draft," wrote Greg A. Bedard. "Cover corners are so important to Mike Pettine's scheme. The sun seems to be shining in Cleveland for the first time in a while. But seems is the operative word." [MMQB.com]
- @RavensSalaryCap: New Ravens ILB CJ Mosley will receive a contract totaling $8,787,996, with Bonus of $4,711,272 and 2014 Cap # of $1,597,818 [Twitter]
- @GinoGrad56: My family and I on draft day 2012. Good luck to everybody hoping to get their name called this weekend, especially my Delaware guys! [Instagram]
- @A_Mellette3: One of the happiest moments of my life last year getting that call from the Ravens #humbled #nfldraft [Twitter]
- @umterps: #tbt - #DraftDay 2011! We all remember when the great @TorreySmithWR was drafted to the @Ravens! #TerpFamily [Twitter]
- @89SteveSmith: 5hrs back to dubai then 14 & half hrs to NY then 1hr to clt. Finally home. No wasted time studying up. #ravennation [Twitter]