Entering the 2018 NFL Draft, it seemed more than likely that the Green Bay Packers would select at least one wide receiver in the wake of Jordy Nelson’s offseason release. The question was when they would do so.
Adding tight end Jimmy Graham to the offense helped to put a band-aid on a receiving unit that needed weapons lining up on the outside. Still, more help was needed and the Packers capitalized on mid-to-late round options with three exceptional size-speed prospects that will have opportunities to play immediately and grow into reliable contributors.
Sixth round selection Equanimeous St. Brown has seemingly received an abundance of attention as a potential long-term steal for Green Bay — a player that could have gone two or three rounds earlier. Fifth round pick Marquez Valdes-Scantling has quickly been hyped up to be an early contributor on special teams in addition to eventually becoming a vertical threat with further coaching.
Lost at times in the post-draft fuss has been the first receiver taken by Green Bay, fourth rounder J’Mon Moore. Personally, this author was caught off guard with a recent prediction that Moore would be the biggest flop of the Packers’ draft class.
“While fans may see Moore on the receiving end of a few Rodgers Hail Mary passes this season, they aren’t likely to see him in a significant offensive role. Don’t be surprised if Moore is a bigger rookie flop than wideout Equanimeous St. Brown, who the Packers selected two rounds after Moore.” ~ Kristopher Knox - Bleacher Report
Not everyone has been as down on Moore, as APC’s own Tex Western as well as Peter Bukowski praised the Missouri product’s athletic traits after the draft. Watching several of Moore’s games prior to reading Peter’s article, this author too saw many similarities to Green Bay receiver Davante Adams, right down to focus drops at the early stages of both players’ careers. While there is certainly work for Moore to do in offseason camps to become even half as dangerous as Adams in year one, he poses several strengths that should garner early playing time.
Green Bay has valued run after the catch ability from its wide receivers and that is where Moore will slide into the Packers’ scheming immediately. The scouting report knocks on Moore prior to the draft are true to an extent. Moore ran a limited route tree in college, primarily running screens, hitches, slants, and vertical routes. Fortunately, Green Bay has seen significant production from players like Adams and Nelson on similar routes, getting playmakers the ball in space to make the first defender miss and pick up chunk yardage. Moore has made defenders pay for missing the first tackle.
In Missouri’s offense, Moore excelled with what he was asked to do, but will need to diversify his route-running in the NFL. That can be taught. It’s much harder to find a player who’s big and strong enough to stretch plays with the ball in his hands and Packers Director of College Scouting Jon-Eric Sullivan said just as much after the selection. Moore is physical with a solid frame and will look to create, using a stiff-arm to shed tacklers. Some of Moore’s drop history can be associated with trying to make too many moves too fast. That the mistakes may come at the expense of aggressiveness is a forgivable problem for Moore as a rookie.
While St. Brown was very productive working the middle of the field on crossing patterns in college and could continue to be utilized that way effectively as a pro, Moore seems a more natural fit working the sideline as an outside receiver. Though he’s raw and may have some hiccups in the early going, the height (6’3), long arms (32 7/8”), and vertical leap (38”) numbers posted at the Combine give Moore the ability to expand his skills on fade patterns and pluck the ball while it’s in the air. Moore is not at the same level of similarly tall, long-striding former Tiger receiver Dorial Green-Beckham in winning 50-50 balls, but he possesses the traits to eventually be more than proficient in this area.
Like Adams and DGB, who ran the same 40-yard dash time at the Combine as Moore did at his Pro Day (4.49 seconds), Moore creates late separation on outside vertical routes. The pairing of Adams and Moore on the outside could be a lethal combination in the near future. Even more, despite the minor push-off in the final play of the video below, Moore shows the ability to make catches in tight spaces and catch the Aaron Rodgers favorite back-shoulder throw.
Another aspect that stood out to me about Moore, but has not been talked about as frequently, is his blocking. Against Auburn in particular, Moore was active as a run blocker both near the line scrimmage and downfield. As a young player, the willingness to shield defenders on the outside and create running lanes improves one’s ability to get on the field quickly. Judging from the video below, as well as a few other games this author has watched, Moore could do just that.
An outstanding performer from a top conference, Moore is far from a finished product but has high upside. His production as a rookie remains to be seen, but his raw, on-field traits could make him an early target. The learning curve may be quicker than expected according to Sullivan’s confident remarks regarding Moore’s ability to transition from a college spread offense to the NFL.
“He’s smart. When you go through there and talk to the folks at the school, he has no problems picking up the offense. He learns. He’s a guy who’s football is very important to him, so he’s going to study and do the things he needs to do both in the meeting room as well as on the practice field to make sure he is in a position to perform.”
If Moore can improve his craft as anticipated, he could be a round four gem in year one.