Folks, draft szn is upon us. This year, I’m going to be covering the draft in a way different than we’ve seen it typically be covered in previous years. The draft, in my opinion, should be the starting point for our evaluations of these prospects. Placement and fit matters so much for prospects, yet we grade them as if they’re finished products before we even know where they’re going. Why do we do this? The easy answer is, for clicks. People don’t care about the rookies once the draft is over until they start playing in real games. It makes no sense to do the bulk of the coverage after the draft, because the traffic it would generate for the sites and media outlets will be severely diminished.
I’ve found a way to marry the ideal process with the practical one, and that’s how I’ll be covering the draft this year. I’m going to be bringing you weekly-ish reports on prospects that will provide them with a grade and full coverage of the type of player the prospect is, but I won’t be releasing any rankings before the draft happens. Instead, I’ve added a variable to my grading process that factors in the landing spot of each prospect, and when that fit is added to the pre-draft grade the prospect receives, it will give me the final grade for the prospect. Teams will be sorted into 5 categories of fits; Great, Good, Neutral, Bad, Disaster. These fits are determined with a variety of factors involved, including but not limited to scheme fit, organizational stability, and current players at the position on the team. Once I have the prospects’ final grades, I will release a post-draft big board of the prospects I covered. This way, their landing spots can impact how I feel about them, but the content is still primarily coming before the draft, when most of you will care much more about it. This intro is going to stay in every prospect article I write as a refresher/introduction to those who are reading for the first time. Now, let’s get to it: D.J. Moore, WR, Maryland **Unfortunately, I was a bit short on time for this one and couldn’t grab clips. Sorry pals.**
D.J. Moore won’t turn 21 until April, and his combination of youth, athleticism, and traits makes him an enticing WR prospect in a year that seems to lack top talent at the position. Coming out of Maryland, Moore has drawn a few comparisons to fellow Terrapin Stefon Diggs. I’m not sure I’m all the way on board with that comparison, but Moore has the potential to bring a similar return on investment Diggs has for the Vikings.
Despite being listed at just 5’10”, Moore wins in the air with the ability of someone much larger than he is. He has an excellent vertical and times his jumps excellently to catch the ball at its high point. He gets his hands away from his body when he catches, and he has a “wow” play or two seemingly every game. He’s both quick and fast, and if he were only used as a gadget player (which would be wasting his talent) he would still find success in the league. He’s young and flashes enough raw talent that the right coach could mold him into a monster in a couple years, and his skillset is diverse enough to fit any scheme.
At Maryland, Moore didn’t run a particularly diverse route tree. The vast majority of his routes were screens/go’s/crossers, and occasionally had some curls mixed in. He showed capability of running other routes when asked to, which leads me to believe it was Maryland asking him to do this more than a limitation on his part, but his route running needs to be cleaned up either way. He wins with athleticism more than technique, so his NFL team will want to both expand his tree and tighten up his technique. Although he catches away from his body, he does have some frustrating drops mixed in. His hands aren’t a detriment, but they need some work. Height shouldn’t be held against him, but 5’10” is worth noting. These last two weaknesses are more nitpicks than anything, but they should be kept in mind.
The San Francisco 49ers. Assuming Jimmy Garoppolo stays, the thought of Kyle Shanahan using Moore as Garoppolo’s main weapon to grow with is gorgeous. Shanahan has gotten the most out of raw receivers before (see: Taylor Gabriel 2016), and Moore’s diverse skillset fits perfectly with Shanahan’s genius offensive mind.
Truth be told, I don’t really hate any fit for Moore. However, the New York Giants have an old/bad QB in Eli Manning, seem to be committed to him, and have three young weapons already established with Odell Beckham, Sterling Shepard, and Evan Engram. Even assuming Brandon Marshall is let go, Moore can do better than beginning his career as the 4th weapon for a team with a bad QB and uncertainty moving forward at the position.
D.J. Moore is going to have a lot of fans by the time the draft rolls around, and deservedly so. Despite being a smaller receiver Moore is able to win in a number of ways and has explosive athletic traits. He can win in the air and on the ground, and with the right situation could become a legitimate #1 option for an offense. Even if he never improves from here, he’d be a capable second or third option in any system. He is going to make some team very happy, and has all the makings of a future fan-favorite.