NFL Media's Frelund: WR Moore Projects Among Most Productive Rookies

Rondale Moore could get opportunities early to make an impact for Arizona.
Author:
Publish date:

Rondale Moore fills a lot of holes on the Cardinals offense. The 2021 second-round pick from Purdue provides Arizona with a strong route-running slot receiver, the ability to run more gadget plays, a potential deep threat and a returner on special teams. 

His game in college looks like a natural fit alongside DeAndre Hopkins and A.J. Green or Christian Kirk on the outside.

These traits could lead to snaps for the rookie target, especially if Larry Fitzgerald does not return to the team. 

Cynthia Frelund of NFL Media devised a list projecting which rookie wideouts will have the most productive 2021 seasons on Monday afternoon. Her system uses "contextualized data and my computer-vision models."

She placed Moore seventh. He also happened to be the seventh receiver selected in the draft. Ja'Marr Chase of the Bengals and Eagles receiver DeVonta Smith lead her projection board. 

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Rondale Moore (85) protects the ball from cornerback Tay Gowan (32) during rookie minicamp at Arizona Cardinals Training Facility.

One of her main reasons for Moore making the list is opportunity, of which she called "exceptional and immediate."

"Next Gen Stats credited the Cardinals with utilizing 10 personnel (one running back, four wide receivers, no tight ends) on 20.3 percent of snaps last season, the highest figure in the NFL by a wide margin," Frelund wrote.

The Cardinals have yet to add a veteran tight end after losing Dan Arnold in free agency, which for now gives the appearance that this strategy will continue if not increase. In those packages, having a player like Moore provides Arizona increased abilities. 

"I think it's just my versatility, being able to go win in the slot and run options, being able to stick my foot in the ground and make you miss, run past you," Moore said on what he brings to the Cardinals aftr being drafted April 30. "If you need a big play, if you need a short-down play, whatever the case may be."

The other factor Frelund alluded to was his ability to get past defenders and pick up yards in the open field. 

"My computer vision shows that over the past three seasons, Moore maintained his speed after contact on inside routes at the highest rate of any receiver in the FBS."

Moore is a 5-foot-7 dynamo who can be a nightmare to bring down, as shown in this clip against Ohio State.

ezgif.com-gif-maker

"When you see his body type, you see a guy who's on the shorter end, but really thick and muscled up, really explosive, jumped 42 and a half inches, ran a 4.29 (40-yard), 6.63 cone," Cardinals general manager Steve Keim said on the second day of the draft. "Those numbers are off the charts."

In 2018, his only 13-game season in college, Moore forced 37 missed tackles on receptions, the most by a Power-5 receiver since 2014, per Pro Football Focus. His center of gravity, raw leg strength and ability to cut at an instant made defenders miss.

ezgif.com-gif-maker (1)

He also did not drop a ball in 2020, an improvement after he had some drop issues in 2018. He did not leave many attainable yards out on the field. 

He finished the 2018 season with 114 receptions, which led FBS. He finished just ahead of Cardinals receivers Andy Isabella and KeeSean Johnson. 

The key for him is to stay healthy, as hamstring issues handicapped his previous two seasons. 

The Cardinals ran the most up-tempo offense in the league last year, but did not have a weapon quite like Moore to run gadget plays. He likely will not get the same snaps as Hopkins, Green or Kirk, but with the ball in his hands, his speed makes him a dangerous tool in head coach Kliff Kingsbury's belt. 

"(Moore) is explosive enough to play outside, play inside, reverses, screens, all the different things," Keim said. "You want to get the ball in his hands and let him create on the perimeter."

The more creative Kingsbury gets, the likelihood of Moore's numbers jumping rises, potentially above other members on Frelund's list.