Defensive Tackle Catches Vikings' Eye

The Vikings liked enough of what they saw of one defensive tackle at the combine to send their position coach to work out the draft prospect. See what that prospect had to say about the whole predraft experience.

Linebacker and defensive tackle might be the positions with the most dramatic changes from top to bottom on the Vikings' roster entering the 2005 NFL Draft.

At defensive tackle, the Vikings have obtained nose tackle Pat Williams in free agency to place alongside Kevin Williams. Last year's breakthrough rookie free agent, Spencer Johnson, will move to a reserve role, and unrestricted free agent Chris Hovan will move to another NFL team. Steve Martin, acquired during free agency last year, didn't show enough consistency to guarantee him a roster spot in 2005.

So the options for the Vikings at defensive tackle are wide open entering the April 23-24 draft, and they have shown an interest in C.J. Mosley, a 6-foot-2, 314-pound junior out of Missouri.

In an interview with Scout.com, Mosley revealed that Vikings defensive line coach Brian Baker traveled to Columbia, Mo., to work out one of the draft's top defensive tackles.

"It was fun. Coach Baker came down to Columbia, Mo., and worked me out," Mosley said. "I thought he was going to kick my butt, honestly. He said he saw me run at the combine and he was like ‘Man, I know you can run. Conditioning is not a problem. I just want to see you move, how you rip and react and everything.' … I think he was satisfied with everything he saw. He did kick my butt in the very last drill. He ran me through like a rabid dog."

Mosley is considered versatile enough to play either tackle position but can get out of control, according to one analysis. He might be best as the under tackle in the Vikings defense.

Mosley was the last man invited to the NFL Combine in February, but that didn't stunt his confidence.

"Learning what I've learned, I know that I can damn near out-produce a lot of the D-tackles that are ranked above me or that are ranked up there. I would have to say I'm a sleeper," he said.

That might be best for the Vikings' chances of drafting Mosley, as they probably wouldn't spend a high draft pick on a player that might need to add weight and wouldn't be expected to vie for a starting job in 2005. He is the eight-ranked defensive tackle in the draft, according to Scout.com, and the only junior among the top 20 at his position.

While he learned he can compete with some of the top rookie-to-be talent at the position and said he doesn't think he has a weakness that's been pointed out to him yet, he was disappointed with the sustained speed he showed at the combine. His 40-yard dash time was a disappointment to him, he said.

"I got clocked anywhere from a 5.05 to a 5.1. I weighed in at 314 at the combine. My fastest 40 was a 4.89, so I wanted to run a 4.9, anywhere from 4.95 to 4.96. I was disappointed in that," he said.

So far, the biggest knock on Mosley's game might be the way he faces double teams. According to one analysis, he tries to take on both players instead of defeating one. But Mosley says he can split the double teams.

"The zone blitz defense that we ran … if you're across the center's face, most likely you're going to get double-teamed by the center and the guard. If you're quick enough, you can split it," he said.

He is considered an aggressive player who is better on the move than he is making reads at the snap of the ball. But, is he too aggressive?

"I don't think so. If you make smart plays, not at all," Mosley said. "You've got to be aggressive to play the game of football. My sophomore year I played real calm and made sure I did the right things. But junior year, I pushed it up — I tried to be more violent. There ain't no friends on the field at all. I had to learn the hard way."

That aggressive style helped lead him to 167 tackles, 15.5 sacks and 38 tackles-for-loss in 36 games (27 starts) at Missouri.

He was in the center of a defense that was ranked 14th in the nation in 2004, and he was named first-team All-Big 12 by the Associated Press and was the team's defensive lineman of the year.

While not everyone knew a lot about Mosley at the start of the offseason since he was a junior declaring early, other teams besides the Vikings are showing interest as well.

He talked to almost every team at the combine, he said, and has since heard from the New York Jets, Oakland Raiders, Kansas City Chiefs and Atlanta Falcons.

"I'll be happy when I get drafted and know where I'm going," Mosley said.

The Vikings would be happy if he slipped to them at some point in the draft.



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