“Right now that is what signifies me,” said Moats. “I want people to think that’s where I started, but then years down the line say that I ended up becoming a great linebacker or defensive end that was able to play numerous positions.”
Being flexible with positions is something that Moats is highly accustomed to in the NFL. He has switched positions so many times that he has probably lost count at this point. It is a credit to his versatility as a player, but underlines his dedication to the other half of the game that occurs in the film room.
“I feel like mentally I am very strong and I have always studied the game a lot,” Moats said. “My mental asset is my biggest strength because it always helps me get into position. I am not the fastest, biggest, or strongest player, but if you know where you are supposed to be you can get there faster.”
“He is a true professional who studies, is coachable, accountable, and works hard at it,” said linebackers coach Bob Sanders. “He wants to maximize his talents to be the best that he can be.”
Lining up at both inside and outside linebacker is something that Moats has not always done. His original position growing up was defensive end and he has developed into a linebacker over the past two years. He believes that the transition has gone smoothly because of his instincts and knowledge of the game.
“When I shift back to linebacker the mental aspect of it is perfect because you are doing more studying, which I am accustomed to anyways,” said Moats. “I played defensive end my whole life, so that was a natural position for me and my ability to rush the passer was something I always had a feel for.”
“He is quick, smart, and can do a lot of things,” Sanders said. “He has never really been a linebacker behind the line a whole lot in his career, so it shows he is adaptable, coachable, and flexible.”
Adapting to constant change might be a problem for some, but for Moats it’s actually a part of the game that he embraces.
“I love the versatility,” he said. “I love playing more than one position out there on the field.”
Moats is lining up the majority of the time at the strong-side linebacker position in the base 4-3 defense. He is also lining up as the middle linebacker in nickel packages and serving as the defensive play caller. Given this responsibility can be uplifting for a young player, but it is something that he does not take for granted.
“If they feel that confident that I will be able to make the calls, make the checks and things like that well then of course it is a confidence boost,” said Moats. “It is also going to make me work even harder because if they have this confidence in me, then I want to make sure that I do not let them down.”
Heading into his third season it is apparent that the coaching staff has entrusted him with more responsibilities and see him playing a significant role in the defense. He is humbled by the opportunity, but understands that he must step his game up to the increased expectations from both the coaching staff and his teammates.
“When you are out there with the big name guys and stars of the team, of course you feel good about yourself,” Moats said. “At the same time you have to add that pressure because you know that if you’re out here with these guys you better not let them down. I know that they are going to have my back, so I have to have their backs as well.”