The Arizona Cardinals released outside linebacker Dontay Moch on Thursday after just one season and while I did think the Cincinnati Bengals reached for him in the third-round of the 2011 NFL Draft, I’ve always been intrigued by him when I studied his college tape prior to that draft.
Moch was combine phenom back in 2011 as he ran 4.44 40-yard dash and vertical jumped 42 inches. In fact, his KEI score was an impressive 73.67. That should be a lesson that combine numbers don’t mean jack squat.
During his four years at Nevada, Moch registered 30 total sacks and 63 total tackles for loss. However, despite his college success, his first three years in the NFL haven’t gone well as he not only struggled with the Bengals defense, but also was hampered by injuries and a four game suspension for testing positive for a banned substance.
A few weeks ago, new Bengals defensive coordinator Paul Guenther, who was the linebackers coach in Cincinnati when Moch was drafted, talked about how tough it was on his former player to make the transition from edge rusher to outside linebacker.
“Marvin (Lewis) and I go around and around about this. I always tell him it takes one year to get (acclimated). For a guy who never dropped, he always rushed. He has to learn. I’ve done it,” Guenther said. “Marvin coached linebackers in the 3-4 where you tell them to just go to the flat and sit there.
“In our system you’ve got tight ends, you’ve got backs, you’ve got progressions, and the spacing and up front fits. And how you take on the fullback. That’s tough for guy who’s never done it. To do those things and then move back five yards and stand, it’s different. To me, a year if you’re lucky.”
Moch has played all of 73 snaps on defense since being drafted and 68 of those came last season with the Cardinals. Assuming he’s healthy, the 25 year-old linebacker could make for an interesting summer project for the Steelers, who right now could use a lot of backup bodies at the outside linebacker position.
I’m not trying to say Moch will become the next James Harrison, but being as the Steelers could have him right now for a minimum salary without any guarantees, I think it might be worth seeing if he can be fixed before his left foot joins his right foot out of the league for good. If he doesn’t work out, just release him.