Breaking Down Rondale Moore: Jim Mora Thinks Purdue Star Will Slip Through First 2 Rounds

Rondale Moore tallied 2,215 all-purpose yards as a freshman in 2018, a Purdue program record. Sports Illustrated's college football expert Jim Mora explained his analysis of the Boilermakers' explosive wide receiver ahead of the 2021 NFL Draft.
By D.J. Fezler ,

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Wide receiver Rondale Moore dazzled the Big Ten Conference during his first year of college football, making an immediate impact for Purdue and its offense. After three seasons of ups and downs with the Boilermakers, Moore is preparing for the upcoming 2021 NFL Draft.

Despite most of his film coming from the 2018 season, Moore is still considered a top-five prospect at wide receiver in the NFL Draft this year. We spoke with the Sports Illustrated college football expert and former NFL head coach Jim Mora to discuss the strengths of Moore, where he might be selected and how his skill set translates to the professional level.

Here's what Mora had to say about Moore:

What Moore Brings to the Table

During his collegiate debut against Northwestern on Aug. 30, 2018, he recorded 11 catches for 109 yards and a touchdown, had two carries for 76 yards and a touchdown while also returning five kickoffs for a season-high 125 yards.

His 313 all-purpose yards were the most in Boilermaker history.

Moore is an explosive playmaker with the ball in his hands, and he caught 114 passes for 1,258 yards and 12 touches as a freshman. Moore also flashed his versatility by taking 21 carries for 213 yards and two touchdowns.

“I love the fact that you can throw him the ball or you can hand him the ball, and he can be equally effective, and I see NFL offenses starting to utilize guys that have skill sets like Rondale,” Mora said.

While playing in all 13 games and making 10 starts, he broke the Purdue program record for the most all-purpose yards in a season with 2,215. Moore was only the third player in Big Ten history to eclipse 100 catches in a single season. 

At just 18 years old, Moore’s stellar marks brought him a myriad of accolades:

  • Four-time Big Ten Freshman of the Week.
  • Big Ten Freshman of the Year.
  • Big Ten Wide Receiver of the Year.
  • First Team All-Big Ten.
  • First Team All-American.
  • First Team Freshman All-American.
  • First true freshman consensus All-American in Big Ten history.
  • Paul Hornung recipient, as the most versatile player in the nation.

“What you’re seeing in the NFL now, is you’re seeing some of these hybrid players — guys where if you find a way to get them the ball in space, it doesn't matter if they’re 5-(foot)-7 or 6-1,” Mora said. “It’s all about what they do once they’re out in the open field.”

Moore never found the same level of success over his last two seasons because of injuries, having played in just seven games during that span. In his sophomore season, he saw the field for Purdue’s first four games and totaled 29 catches, 387 yards and two touchdowns. Moore missed the rest of the 2019 season after battling a hamstring injury.

Then, due to the growing concerns of the coronavirus pandemic, Moore initially opted out of the 2020 football season to prepare for this year’s NFL draft. However, on Sept. 24, 2020, Moore opted to return to the Boilermakers and played in three games last year.

With just 35 receptions for 270 yards, he never returned to his freshman-year form as Purdue finished with a 2-4 record.

Size is a Factor in Draft Stock

The Boilermakers listed Moore at 5-foot-9 feet and 180 pounds. However, at Purdue’s Pro Day on March 23, he was officially measured at 5-foot-7. While he played at the collegiate level with incredible strength and breakaway ability at his size, Mora is concerned his height may turn NFL organizations away.

Draft analysts project a team will select Moore within the first two rounds. Mora believes the second round is just a little too high, despite Moore’s apparent skill set.

“But in the third, fourth round you go ahead and take a chance on this guy just because of the talent, because of the intangibles, because of the things he can bring to a team,” Mora said.

Mora cited legendary NFL head coach and general manager Bill Walsh, saying it's imperative to look for redeeming qualities in a player despite his deficiencies. At his height, Moore dominated the Big Ten as a freshman with speed and versatility.

The intangibles Moore brings to a team as a receiver, runner and returner will be why a team takes a chance on him. He recorded a 4.29 second 40-yard dash time, the second-fastest for a wide receiver eligible for the draft. 

“That’s a redeeming quality, and those are guys that you take in the third or fourth round,” Mora said. “Teams where I can see him going, are teams that are going to have creative offensive coordinators.”

While it may be difficult to target Moore deep down the field because of his height, Mora said teams can give him the ball on jet sweeps, quick screens and dump-offs over the middle of the football field.

Organizations like the Los Angeles Rams, San Francisco 49ers and Green Bay Packers feature offensive-minded coaches that are aiding in the evolution of professional football. Coaches with similar mindsets will utilize Moore’s ability to make plays in space.

“Their ability to think outside the box and not get constricted by what the NFL has always been, but open up and say this is where the NFL is going,” Mora said. “Those are the places you want Rondale to go.”

NFL Player Comparison: Curtis Samuel

Carolina Panthers wide receiver Curtis Samuel is another Big Ten athlete with a wide range of ability. At Ohio State, he was featured as a running back. However, the Buckeyes moved him all over the field, and he ended his college career with 279 touches, 2,535 scrimmage yards and 24 total touchdowns.

In the NFL, he offers similar versatility to the Panthers over his four-year career.

“A guy they use in the backfield, they use in the slot, they throw the quick screens, they run the jet sweeps,” Mora said. “Not necessarily a big guy, but a guy that can do a lot of things. Has the toughness to run the ball up inside if you want him to.”

Samuel is listed at 5-foot-11, 195 pounds and set career-high marks in 2020. He caught 77 passes for 851 yards and three touchdowns while also adding 41 rushes for 200 yards and two more scores. 

Even with a shorter stature, Moore can provide touches from anywhere on the football field, like Samuel, while also adding value as a kick and punt returner.

“The smart offensive coordinators and head coaches, they’re going to say ‘I recognize the talent, and I gotta get him the ball in space,’” Mora said. “‘I gotta get it to him quickly where he can make people miss.’ And that’s what they’re going to do.”

Rondale Moore Pro Day Measurables

  • Height: 5-foot-7
  • Weight: 180 pounds
  • Vertical: 42.5 inches
  • 40-yard dash: 4.29 seconds
  • 3-cone drill: 6.68 seconds

NFL Mock Drafts

  • Mel Kiper, ESPN: 60th overall, New Orleans Saints. Link to Kiper's full mock draft here.
  • Todd McShay, ESPN: 49th overall, Arizona Cardinals. Link to McShay's full mock draft here
  • Chris Trapasso, CBS Sports: 25th overall, Jacksonville Jaguars. Link to Trapasso's full mock draft here.
  • Austin Gayle, Pro Football Focus: 37th overall, Philadelphia Eagles. Link to Gayle's full mock draft here.
  • Cynthia Freeland, NFL Network: 29th overall, Green Bay Packers. Link to Freeland's full mock draft here.

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