From now until the draft, let's take a look at various prospects in the draft. We will do one a week. I'll get the tape together, and we can all have a go at! By everyone watching the tape, we can have a more detailed consensus.
Here are my personal thoughts:
Build / Athleticism:
- Smaller receiver, but doesn't play like it; able to handle some contact.
- Listed Height: 5'10"
- Listed Weight: 195 lb.
o With these smaller guys it's usually doubtful that they actually are at their listed stature numbers.
- Good long speed: Don't remember him getting tracked down from behind; when stacking a DB, he stays on top. Best example of pure long speed is getting on top of a DB playing 8 yards off (with a slight stutter at the top of the route (2:59, vs. Pitt)
- Above average twitch: Has some start / stop ability, but he isn't "joystick;" more than enough to be an effective down field route runner.
Receiving Form on Routes Intentionally Facing the QB:
Ideally, on routes facing the QB, a WR should be catching balls with the traditional "triangle" hand form, "accepting" the ball into his body from extended arms with little "clapping onto the ball." If the ball is at or lower than the WR's waist, it is generally acceptable for him to "basket catch" / trap the ball against him frame.
Generally speaking, I see Moore using the correct form pretty regularly. On slants and posts his hands aren't too wide, and he secures / transitions the ball fairly quickly. Because of his smaller stature, it's not uncommon for Moore to basket catch a lot of his balls—especially on contested catches. This basket catching tendency may make it more difficult for him to be consistent in the NFL. I only remember one focus drop in 5 games (and that came on really poorly thrown ball, with pressure at Moore's back while going to the ground and the ball being thrown at his back hip), so, admittedly, this may just be my own hyper criticism regarding his "contested catch" ability.
At other points, I graded him well on adjusting to the poorly thrown balls. For example, at 2:46 v. Pitt, he uses his body to shield the catch on an out route that should have been thrown further toward the sideline. Additionally, he secures a ball thrown on his back hip while basket catching on a slant for a TD in the same game (3:20).
Receiving Form on Deep Routes / Over the Should Tracking:
On deep shot plays where the WR has already gained position, I want to see two things, the WR should show: (1) late hands (with elbows tight to the body) to "basket catch" the ball, which reduces the DB's chance of interfering with the catch; and (2) tracking the ball well with no trouble adjusting the route to a ball that's in the air (i.e., slowing down, if necessary, while keeping separation, bending a route as needed, etc.). 5:37, vs. NIU, while not a catch, shows that he can generally put himself in the right place; QB simply left him too far outside. 6:03, same game, is another great example of bending a route (even though it is a slot fade) to accommodate the throw and here he shows late hands too.
Contested, 50/50 Catching / Catch Radius:
A place that Moore has room for growth is in contested catch situations. He has good fundamentals, consistently jumping straight up and back toward the ball and generally high pointing the ball. But, Moore needs to free up his hands more. Here are my notes from a few games where he got the opportunity:
o 8:32 vs. NIU, slot fade works back through his man—not perfectly; arguably PI; Moore's momentum and defender's momentum probably caused him to not be able to attack the ball with both hands
o 2:47 vs. Kent State, running a flag route, jumps straight up but claps onto ball;
o 4:57 v. Kent State, great adjustment to poorly thrown ball, which was above and beyond him; and
o 7:38 vs. Kent State, defense gets caught napping, but Moore still has to make this catch through the defender, again jumps straight up and highpoints the ball well.
Let me start by saying that Moore is really advanced for his age as a route runner. He's got a lot the basics down "to a T." If playing WR is part art and part science, Moore has maxed out the science aspect of the equation (at least in the offense that he played in). Now, I want him to master the art.
Critics will say that the only routes that Moore ran were drags, slants, posts, curls, comebacks, and screens. While it is true that these constituted the majority of the routes that Moore ran, he less frequently showed off some double move routes and looked good on them. I personally don't penalize a receiver for running a "more limited route tree," if they (1) excel on those routes that they do run frequently and (2) flash some ability on those non-frequent routes.
Against Down-field / Off Coverage:
Drew Lieberman / The Sideline Hustle is a WR coach that I follow on Youtube, and one of his primary points regarding receivers facing off-coverage is that "Everything looks the same until it doesn't." Moore drives well to the top of his route. He shows good explosion at the top of his route and an ability to change gears (4:23 v. Kent State, with just a simple stutter at the top of the route, Moore forces the DB to get handsy because Moore was going to run free over the top of the defense—likely for a TD). Moore shows some ability to use head fakes. To be truly elite in the NFL though, a WR needs to know when he can break the conventional, "scientific" rules of route running. There are a few "artful" things that Moore needs to start doing some other things to help himself succeed in the NFL. Those include stemming a route more outside or inside prior to the break point to garner extra room after the break; bending flat breaking routes toward the QB more to create additional separation—making the catch easier; and occasionally selling other routes prior to the top of the stem.
With a guy this small, you would expect him to struggle against longer-press corners. But, Moore shows that he can get off press with a strong set of wipes and stabs (see 3:51, vs. NIU). Generally, you don't see CBs staying on top of Moore because he can so efficiently "stack" the opposing DB and maintain the separation. At that point, Moore has generally won (see 3:14, vs. NIU); Moore's comebacks succeed simply by DBs being in a reactionary mode. NFL DBs will likely be better at anticipating such breaks (and be a little more handsy) but this should remain an important part of Moore's threat. Strangely (and despite already creating good separation for the collegiate level), I think Moore could be more efficient with his footwork (and explosive) on these comeback routes.
In summary, Moore—despite being a smaller player—is not a guy that you are going to have to hide in the slot (or motion around) because he can efficiently get off press. Yes, there is room for growth, but he clearly is not afraid of any DB's physicality, which is half the battle when it comes to finding an effective outside NFL receiver.
Because of the routes that he ran, I think it's harder to gauge Moore against zone. He rarely ran option routes or stop routes (that I could tell). So, this is a whole in my evaluation. There were a few things that I did notice though that I liked (2:53, vs Kent State, on CB blitz, Moore likely adjusts route to immediately present a target for the QB; same thing at 6:54 vs NIU). Based on one play (and because of his stature), I have some concerns about Moore's ability against DBs that will get to drive on him in the NFL.
Ball Carrier Skills:
Post-Catch (as a Receiver):
Shows some aptitude as a YAC receiver, though he won't be game breaking in this way. 4:57, vs. Kent State, slot WR screen, play is naturally supposed to go to the boundary and would net probably two yards but Moore instead breaks down two flowing defenders long enough to pause them and net an extra 4 yards). Moore does a nice job does a nice job utilizing his blockers in the WR screen game when the screen is set up properly (see 4:39 v. Pitt).
As a Carrier in Motion:
Best example of vision is actually a trick play vs. Nevada in the bowl game (1:49), starts as a WR reverse that pulls up for a pass; sees it's covered; then takes off for a 10 yard gain via a lane (intentional?) moving opposite of the initial reverse. Consistently shows an ability to follow blocks (see 0:33 vs. NIU, cutting back inside rather than stringing the play further to the outside).
Elusiveness (and / or Ability to Absorb Contact):
Moore has some elusiveness to his game, not an elite start / stop, "joystick" guy but better than average. Moore handles contact pretty well; tackle attempts at his ankles usually didn't seem bother him, and he is willing to stiff arm and shoulder defenders for extra yards.
In 174 career touches, Moore never fumbled the ball.
Work Ethic (Run Blocking & Non-targeted Plays):
A great complement to any WR is that that they don't take plays off. A running play or a passing concept to the opposite side of the field is still an opportunity to set up a Corner for a future play or can be used to get an advantageous blocking angle that eliminates a final threat, springing a running back for a long TD.
With Moore, I usually see him working. One of my favorite plays illustrating Moore's hard work is against Michigan (2:02) this year. He starts by selling an in breaking route and then immediately switches to a shielded block on the Corner for an outside zone run. Without Moore consistently selling his routes, he would not have been as effective of a blocker on this play. Lesser WRs would have simply charged the CB to get into the run block. Moore worked smarter, not harder to outmaneuver the DB. The RB was able to pick up the first down with this block from Moore.
As a downfield run blocker, I love what Moore can bring. Secondary players that take plays off are going to be thwarted (and annoyed) by Moore's consistent efforts. There is a lot of (former teammate) D'wayne Eskridge's tenacity in Moore's blocking game. Both transition so well from a perceived "downfield receiving threat" to blocker. However, because both have statures that aren't imposing, neither is a guy that is going to be thought to be utilized as a point man blocker on screens (see 2:44, v. Michigan, where a CB gets to drive downhill through him to stop the motion screen to the flat).
Simply put, Moore is a tenacious, leverage and position blocker. For a guy his size . . . that's okay. He attacks the defender, keeps a wide base, keeps himself leveraged under the defender, and keeps his feet moving as much as possible. If I'm an OC, I'm not asking him to regularly wash down, attacking a LB on the front side of a running play or motioning into sealing an backside Edge player. But, sealing off a safety or attacking a LB on an angle (especially on a reverse) are well within his capacity. I don't think any NFL team would trust putting a LB on Moore in Man, so overall, I would grade him as a good run blocker.
Gauging the Enemy / Consistency:
Because every route is run with tenacity, defenders don't get to take a break either when facing Moore. On a run to the opposite side of the field, Moore can be found working his outside release, just lulling the defender to sleep for when he actually runs that same release pattern but the QB throws his way. Because it's a mental battle the whole time with Moore, the DB never gets to "save himself" for passing downs.
Utility in the NFL:
Moore is a guy that I think can succeed in the NFL as a split-end or in the slot. He didn't get a ton of opportunities showcase himself as a pure vertical, flanker, but some of that capacity may be there. He doesn't really have the ideal "big body / catch radius" prototypically expected for that position. So, I wouldn't expect him to get a ton of opportunity there.
His "gadget" ability as an efficient runner is going to warrant some touches in an offense that wants to threaten with WR sweeps and pop pass plays (i.e, McVay and Shanahan generally or as Reich has shown at points with Parris Campbell).
His run blocking will likely be what is going to get him onto the field sooner than later and endear him to his coaches. If he can continue to become a more artful route runner, I think he finds a starting role quickly for a team. Otherwise, he may need a year to develop.
Not a redzone target consistently in the Western Michigan offense, which may say something. He would likely need to be hidden in the slot (attacking with in-breaking or short flat routes to be effective in this part of the field). But, he did show something against NIU on a smash concept, corner fade ball that could indicate that he was underutilized in this regard.
Intangibles / Other:
- Toughness: Never really "heard footsteps" that prevented him from making a catch (in the games that I saw despite slants leading to a few shots).
- Youth (redshirt sophomore), still room for growth(?);
- o May take him off of the Colts board(?), until a certain point; Colts have only drafted underclassmen WR in the later rounds during the CB era (i.e. Deon Cain & Michael Strachan).
- High School QB, can be used for trick plays;
- High School DB, so some understanding of how to set up DBs.
- Played in Bowl Game, despite likely going to declare for the draft
- Level of Competition is definitely a concern: only Michigan was a truly relevant collegiate opponent; left the game early with an injury; but was looking good prior to that point.
Personal Expected Draft Round:
I think Moore ends up picked in about the same place that Eskridge was taken: mid 2nd to mid 3rd. Eskridge was a better run blocker and more artful route runner, but Moore is likely the better receiver overall—better hands and better "scientific" route running (and ability to get off press).
So, what do you think about Skyy Moore? What skill position player do you want us to do an in-depth dive for next?