The Bengals went defense for the first time in the third round of the 2011 NFL Draft Friday when they took the fastest linebacker at the scouting combine in Nevada SAM backer Dontay Moch. They view him as a guy that can make an immediate impact on special teams as he makes the transition from defensive end to a guy they hope can play a couple of different spots.
The 6-1, 248-pound Moch had 30 sacks during a career as a three-year starter he also had 63 tackles for loss. But he's measurable marvel, ripping off a 4.48 40 in Indy on top of banging a 42-inch vertical leap, and has a solid test score.
The NFL Network's Mike Mayock extolled the pick as a classic move by defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer looking for athletic pass rushers for multiple sets and former Ravens head coach Brian Billick called it a solid addition for a gameday 45 active roster because of Moch's ability to play special teams.
"Our vision is for him to start out as a special teams guy and use him as a third-down rusher where we can move him around and use him in drop situations with the hope he'll become a future linebacker," Zimmer said. "It just depends how fast he makes the transition from college defensive end that sometimes stood on his feet to a guy that has to play behind the line of scrimmage."
The knock on Moch is that he's raw and has to improve on his technique and strength but Zimmer and linebackers coach Jeff FitzGerald love the guy's intensity and knowledge of the game. FitzGerald had a brief skull session with Moch during the combine and came away impressed with his ability to pick up the game.
"His measurables are unbelievable, but he's not just a measurable guy," Zimmer said. "He had production in college. A lot of production."
FitzGerald, an NFL coach for the past two decades can't ever remember a linebacker dipping into the 4.3s to run 40s and Moch says he ran a 4.2-second 40 at his junior pro day.
"A 4.45 and that's good enough for me," FitzGerald said with a laugh. "That's a big man."
Only five linebackers are under contract: Rey Maualuga, Keith Rivers, Dan Skuta, Roddrick Muckelroy and Vincent Rey. Dhani Jones and Brandon Johnson are unsigned.