What would you call an NFL player who has been considered arguably the best in his role for at least a couple of years but only has one Pro Bowl to show for it?
"Underrated" is the first word that comes to mind for me, and it's what Pro Football Focus had in mind when considering Indianapolis Colts cornerback Kenny Moore II.
PFF recently compiled a list of the most underrated player on each of the 32 NFL rosters and declared Moore the Colts' nominee:
Moore has been arguably the best slot cornerback in the NFL over the past several years, or at least he is always in the conversation with other players who have had that claim. Moore has never had a bad season for the Colts and consistently makes plays on the football. 2021 was a relative down year for him. Still, his 66.6 PFF grade was above average and he recorded four interceptions and nine pass breakups. Moore is a very tough player to beat and has a knack for making plays from the slot.
Moore arrived in the NFL as an undrafted free agent for the New England Patriots following the 2017 NFL Draft but was a victim of preseason roster cuts. The Patriots' loss was the Colts' gain as they picked up a player they did not yet know was about to become a star.
Through five seasons in Indianapolis, Moore has started 61-of-75 games, totaling 358 tackles (20 for loss), 7.0 sacks, 4 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovered, 14 interceptions, 45 pass breakups, 12 quarterback hits, and 1 defensive touchdown. In three postseason contests, he's also added 3 tackles for loss, 3.0 sacks, 1 interception, and 3 pass breakups.
In 2021, Moore finished with 102 tackles, making him the first cornerback and only the third defensive back to hit the 100-tackle mark for the Colts since 1994.
As PFF mentioned, Moore has never had a bad season. In his four years as a full-time starter, among NFL cornerbacks that have played around the same amount of snaps as him, Moore finished 15th in 2018 with a grade of 71.3, 13th in 2019 with a 75.5, 8th in 2020 with a 74.8, and 8th in 2021 with a 66.6.
Moore (5'9", 190) is small in stature but huge in playmaking ability. He affects the game in a multitude of ways, whether it's locking up a route runner, blitzing out of the slot, killing a play behind the line of scrimmage, or forcing a turnover that looked impossible.
Versatility is a big part of being a successful defender for the Colts but Moore truly exemplifies that. If they needed to, the Colts could probably have Moore play any of the five primary defensive back positions.
Physically, Moore is gifted but it's his instincts and football IQ that truly set him apart. On a regular basis, he shows that he is playing chess while his offensive opponents are playing checkers.
All great players have defining plays on their career highlight reel that stick in people's heads. Moore has made several huge plays throughout his career but there are three in particular that I wanted to point out that even people outside of the Coltsphere can recognize.
First comes an interception that Moore made against the Las Vegas Raiders in 2020. While quarterback Derek Carr looks to the end zone for tight end Darren Waller, who led all NFL tight ends in receptions that season, Moore shook off the nine-inch height difference and came down with an unbelievable, one-handed interception.
Next up is another interception Moore made last season off of the Buffalo Bills' Josh Allen, who is widely considered a top-five quarterback in the NFL. Allen is pressured by Colts edge defender Al-Quadin Muhammad, throws a toss-up into the middle of the field while Moore sweeps in, bats the ball up to himself, and then grabs it out of the air for the pick.
Last is a play from last season that may not have been appreciated enough at the time. On the very first play of the game, Houston Texans quarterback Tyrod Taylor rolls out to his right and throws a simple pass toward the sideline, but Moore flies in and undercuts the pass and intended receiver for the toe-tapping pick.
Near the end of last season, former Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus was asked how Moore was still playing at such a high level despite being targeted at such a high rate in the passing game.
“Yeah, I didn’t realize that stat, but he’s played at a high level and he’s competed," Eberflus said. "Every single time, and you saw it last week, that he’s competing on the go-balls, on the intermediate passes, on the quick passes, on the screens – he’s one of the better players against the screen. So, he’s done an outstanding job.
"He’s worked his tail off to be able to play inside at the nickel," Eberflus continued. "Which we’ve always seen him be a dynamic player in there, but also as an every-down corner to play outside versus the base personnel and we would have no problem putting him out there in nickel. He’s just so valuable on the inside there in our nickel packages that we just leave him in there. He’s an all-around corner and he deserves everything he gets.”
Is Moore underrated? Drop your thoughts below in the comment section!