Buffalo Bills Career
Generally, sixth-round picks are not expected to contribute much right away, but Arthur Moats saw action immediately in Buffalo. Part of this was due to Buffalo’s lack of talent, depth issues and injuries at the linebacker position.
For a trip down memory lane, here are some linebackers on Buffalo’s roster in 2010: Akin Ayodele, Paul Posluszny, Chris Kelsay, Reggie Torbor, Andra Davis, Keith Ellison and Aaron Maybin. Excuse me while I cry looking over those linebackers.
Moats played in 14 games in his rookie season, starting the final four games of the season. There weren’t many expectations early for Moats. Through Buffalo’s first 11 games, Moats had 15 total tackles and .5 of a sack.
Everything changed for Moats in Week 13. The Bills were playing the Minnesota Vikings and during the first series of the game, Moats rushed Brett Favre. He hit Favre from behind and forced an interception. Moats also knocked Favre out of the game with a shoulder injury that kept Favre out of action the following week, and ended Favre’s record-setting consecutive game streak at 297 games.
All of a sudden, Bills fans were using the phrase “Don’t Cross the Moats.” Many were doing so playfully, but others were serious. Expectations of Buffalo’s sixth-round pick had changed. Moats recorded sacks for Buffalo in each of the following two games. He finished the season with 33 tackles (18 solo), 2.5 sacks and a forced fumble.
Moats’ second season was one with many changes. In July, Moats was moved to inside linebacker. This was not the first time Moats had worked at inside linebacker. He had done so in his rookie season as well, before moving to the outside.
Then-head coach Chan Gailey explained the move to BuffaloBills.com:
“The development we felt of (Danny) Batten and (Antonio) Coleman and we also got Shawne Merriman,” Gailey told BuffaloBills.com as a reason for Moats’ position change. “And you look at the prototypical outside backers and there are not a lot of six footers out there and we felt like his quickness and speed allowed him to be a better inside backer than outside backer.”
Moats had a knee injury leading up to the season, but by mid-September he was ready to go.
With Moats back and ready to contribute at inside linebacker, the team started using him at outside linebacker. Gailey admitted that the move wasn’t necessarily ideal:
“You’d like to find a permanent home for everybody,” Gailey told BuffaloBills.com. ”It’s easier on them and easier on us. But to have a guy that is versatile helps your football team. You get some injuries and all of a sudden you’ve got a guy that can give you an edge rush if you need it. He can play back behind the line if you need it. You take advantage of what the positives are if you have them.”
In spite of all of these changes, Moats still played in 14 games. He finished with 29 total tackles (15 solo), one forced fumble and 2.5 sacks.
Last season, Moats was told by Dave Wannstedt that he’d primarily be playing at outside linebacker:
“We briefly talked and mainly he told me what position I’d be looking towards. It’ll be more on the outside,” Moats told BuffaloBills.com. ”When I talked to him it was more in the direction of strong side linebacker. It’s pretty similar to what we were doing (last year) just out of a different alignment. Overall it’s a new experience for me and I’ll be taking it on head first.”
Moats played well at outside linebacker during training camp and by August, Moats was in competing for the strongside linebacker spot with Kirk Morrison. Moats was declared the Week 1 starter at the position, but faced competition for the job from rookie Nigel Bradham.
Moats started four of the first five games for Buffalo, but ended up losing the starting job to Bradham. Moats finished the season with 14 games played. He finished the season with 25 tackles (17 solo).
Final Grade: C+
Moats earns a C+ for his contributions as a former sixth-round pick. He may not be a superstar, but Buffalo did find a versatile player.
In 2013, I wouldn’t be the least bit shocked if Moats had his most productive NFL season. Mike Pettine is good at finding ways to utilize talent. With Moats’ experience as an inside and outside linebacker, look for Moats to contribute and provide the Bills with some strong veteran depth.
Previous 2010 NFL Draft Grades: