Buffalo Bills rookie outside linebacker Arthur Moats has been getting mild praise for a few weeks now, but I've held off on discussing him here because (yes, I'm fully prepared to get yelled at) I just wasn't overly impressed with the kid. Sue me.
After his performance in yesterday's 13-6 win over the Cleveland Browns, however, I'm ready to buy into some of the hype Moats has been getting on Twitter since the preseason, and that his play has earned him over the last two weeks.
Forget about the crushing blow that (likely) ended Brett Favre's consecutive games played streak and, as a result, endeared him to millions of football fans league-wide. Moats, in picking up four tackles, a sack and a forced fumble working against Browns left tackle Joe Thomas, is coming off his first game in which he made a difference for a full 60 minutes - and did so against one of the league's best linemen.
It takes a fairly rare player to enter the NFL as a rookie and make an immediate impact as a pass rusher; even when that happens, it's no guarantee that they're here to stay (see: Mark Anderson). Moats' impact, up until Sunday, had been minimal (but not insignificant), and the positive flashes he did produce were rather few and far between. Which isn't a negative thing at all; he's an undersized rookie sixth-round pick out of the FCS. There was going to be a transition period.
On the season, Moats has 21 tackles, 1.5 sacks and the aforementioned forced fumble. His biggest impact has been as a specialist, where he is a mainstay in all of Bruce DeHaven's coverage units. But for a sixth-round pick, he's already proven to be a valuable addition to this team - and if he continues to show improvement as a nominal starter in Buffalo's 3-4, he might earn a permanent gig as this team's Jack linebacker.