NFL Draft analysis: wide receivers — D.J. Moore

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DENTON, Texas (KNTU) Continuing my analysis of NFL 2018 Draft candidates, here is:

D.J. Moore, Wide Receiver, Maryland — 5’10” / 215lbs — Junior #1

  • Who is He?

Moore was the only one wide receiver in the Big Ten Conference who reached 1,000 receiving yards during the 2017 season, and he did it with a 3rd string quarterback throwing to him. After finishing the year with 80 catches for 1,083 yards and eight touchdowns, He earned the title of Big Ten Receiver of the Year and Big Ten 1st Team All-Conference selection.

Moore will turn 21 in April, making him over a year younger than any other wide receiver in KNTU’s 2018 NFL Draft analysis. Age is not a factor that I usually worry about when evaluating a player, but in Moore’s case it’s a positive, and it lends context to both his good and bad qualities.

At 5 foot 10 inches tall, Moore is a boundary receiver with the build of a player who typically works out of the slot. He’s a fantastic athlete who shows flashes of brilliance every time he takes the field.

  • Positives

Moore is a machine with the ball in his hands. His low center of gravity and thick frame make him a nightmare to tackle. At Maryland, he specialized in yards-after-catch (YAC). The Maryland coaching staff worked tirelessly to get the ball in his hands and let him create in the open field, often working off screens, sweeps, and other types of hand-offs out of the backfield.

But that’s just one phase of Moore’s game. He also has the traits you look for in a pure receiver: good footwork, hands, and speed.

Despite his height, Moore plays with the presence of a much bigger man. He has a wide catch radius and knows how to use it. James Washington may be the most sure-handed receiver in the class, but Moore’s hand strength is right up there with him.

With his compact frame, Moore decelerates better than any receiver in the 2018 receiver class, and his short route running is reminiscent of some of the NFL’s best slot receivers. He has the kind of rare explosiveness that allows him to jog or hop-step into breaks on short routes and then explode past his man. He also has the fluidity to sink his hips into his breaks and create separation.

Moore does most of his damage on catches within 15 yards of the line of scrimmage, but he can also stretch defenses vertically. He shows good footwork against press coverage and rarely gets run off his route.

  • Negatives

Moore has had some frustrating drops, but it’s not a matter of technique, so I don’t view it as a significant issue, but rather something that will take cleaning up with focus and repetition.

His route running could use work. I’d like to see him step on his defender’s toes a bit more before he breaks on slants, posts, and digs. He displays the ability to sell fakes with his entire body but needs to be more consistent in this area. He can win with strength, but he also has the speed to separate.

Moore often wins with athleticism rather than technique, but it’s not all-encompassing. He shows proper technique at times, which leads me to believe that he’ll only get better with time and coaching.

Sideline awareness is something he struggles with on goal line fades and go routes. It’s also worth noting his shorter height, considering he’s a boundary receiver. This means that he plays mostly on the edges of the field where being tall is an advantage; however, this hasn’t shown to be an issue at the college level.

All of Moore’s weaknesses are coachable, which is a positive. Even though he’s less than six feet tall, his body doesn’t limit him. In fact, it’s much the contrary. He has intangibles that give him a sky-high ceiling.

  • Summary

Moore is an impressive talent who can fit into any scheme. Entering his rookie season at 21-years old, he has plenty of time to develop and can become a first-option wide receiver eventually.

He’s a dynamic player who offers more than the average player at his position. If Moore continues to progress at his current rate, he’ll be a force in the NFL for years to come.

  • Relevance to the Cowboys

Moore is the kind of talent the current Dallas coaching staff has had trouble utilizing. The Cowboys passing scheme is simplistic and borderline antiquated. Even though Moore would fit into it, he likely wouldn’t reach his full potential unless the offense was to adapt to his skills.

Moore is in the mix with Sutton and Washington as late first to late second-round players, but unlike Sutton and Washington, I don’t think 19 overall is too high for Moore. And if he’s still available in the second-round, the Cowboys shouldn’t think twice about drafting him.

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