Elijah Moore is among the elite of the elite with SEC receivers. Moore is on pace to break multiple Ole Miss receiving records, and has been skyrocketing up NFL Draft boards.
The man designing the offense that Moore is excelling in isn't shy to compare him to some of the best receivers to come out of college football this century. He might be digging back a decade or more, but these comps are some of the best in the business.
"This is a first round slot," said Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin. "I didn't coach him, but he kind of reminds me of the Carolina Steve Smith. Just the stop and start ability is so explosive and a great route runner. Even though I didn't have him, that would be what I would compare him to."
Smith, a third round pick by the Carolina Panthers out of Utah in 2001, didn't have nearly the college stats that Moore is having. In his two seasons at Utah after transferring from Santa Monica College, playing in the Mountain West, Smith averaged 39 catches for 800 yards and 6 touchdowns per year.
However, Smith would go on to excel at the East-West Shrine Game (where he won offensive MVP) and put some really nice numbers at the NFL Combine, posting a 4.39-second 40-yard dash and a 38.5-inch vertical jump, both above the 80th percentile for receivers.
Where Smith and Moore align visually is with their size. Steve Smith measured in at 5-foot-9 and 184-pounds at the combine. Ole Miss has Elijah Moore listed at 5-foot-9 and 185-pounds. Neither have prototypical size and worked primarily out of the slot.
Truly, it's the NFL production of Steve Smith that makes this a lofty comparison from Kiffin. Smith is a legitimate borderline Hall of Famer. Playing 16 seasons in the NFL (13 with the Carolina Panthers), Smith made five Pro Bowls and was twice named First-team All-Pro. He's the Panthers' All-Time leader in total touchdowns, receptions and receiving yards and at the time of his retirement ranked seventh NFL history in receiving.
Moore, working almost elusively out of the slot, is averaging 10 receptions for 138 yards and 1 touchdown per game this year. Lane Kiffin has never coached someone with that sort of productivity. He's coached some really good receivers, but no one that plays like Moore.
"(My teams) really haven't had, no offense to anybody, but a really unique slot," Kiffin said. "We've usually had kind of bigger receivers for the most part. More traditional outside guys of the great ones. All the way back to Mike Williams top-eight pick and Amari Cooper and different guys along the way."
ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper declared earlier this season, after the Florida game, that Elijah Moore is one of his favorite players to watch in college football. At the time, Kiper said Moore had vaulted into the day two (second and third round) conversation.
Since that game, all Moore has done is go out and virtually guarantee that he's going to break all of AJ Brown's single season records, and do so in a shortened season against all SEC opponents. Moore is going to be in the early second, late first round discussion. And like Steve Smith showed, you don't even need to be drafted that highly to play for over a decade in the league.
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