The 2021 NFL Draft season is upon us and the first wave of free agency is now over. Now, scouts, coaches, and general managers will hit the road as all eyes will turn to the draft.
Among the 32 teams building their rosters to compete for the next Lombardi Trophy is the Jacksonville Jaguars, who hold 10 picks in this season’s draft -- including the No. 1 overall pick. The Jaguars are entering a new era under Head Coach Urban Meyer, and the 2021 draft will serve as a catalyst to the Jaguars’ rebuild moving into the future.
As we march closer and closer to April’s draft, we will look at individual draft prospects and how they would potentially fit with the Jaguars. Instead of looking at any negatives, we are going to look at what the players do well and if they could match what the Jaguars need at the specific role or position.
In this edition, we take a dive into Ole Miss wide receiver Elijah Moore's game and how he gits into the Jaguars' new offense under Urban Meyer, Darrell Bevell, and eventually Trevor Lawrence. Does Moore's games make sense for what the Jaguars are missing on offense?
Ranked a four-star recruit by ESPN and Rivals as a member of the 2018 recruiting class, Elijah Moore made an impact on Ole Miss and its offense from the very start, even if it had D.K. Metcalf and A.J. Brown already firmly in place. He appeared in every game as a true freshman, returning kicks and catching 36 passes for 398 yards (11.05 yards per catch) and two touchdowns. In his first career start, he set the record for the most receptions and yards ever by an Ole Miss freshman in a single game with 11 catches for 129 yards.
Moore's production increased as his role expanded in 2019, catching 67 passes for 850 yards and six touchdowns, leading the team in receiving. This included 143 receiving yards and a touchdown against the No. 1 ranked LSU Tigers, the eventual national champions.
Moore finished his Ole Miss career with his best season, leading the team in catches (67), yards (850), and touchdowns (six). This earned him AP first-team honors alongside Alabama wide receiver DeVonta Smith. Thanks to a stellar final season, Moore finished his college career in the Ole Miss record books, tied for third in receptions (189), fourth in receiving yardage (2,441) and sixth in receiving touchdowns (16).
What Elijah Moore Does Well
While Elijah Moore lacks ideal size (5-foot-9, 178 pounds), he certainly doesn't play like it. He is a rare slot receiver who is built with such a short stature but still excels at the physical aspects of the position. He shows legitimate strength at the catch point to hold onto catches while absorbing tough hits and his toughness across the middle and downfield could never be questioned at Ole Miss. He will be typecast a bit due to his size, but his efficiency as a target on contested catches was surprisingly impeccable.
Then there is Moore's work after the catch. He isn't exactly elusive in the sense that he will avoid defenders, but he does a good job of slipping away from tackles and breaking through soft contact to create more yards. He also has clearly natural instincts as a ball-carrier, quickly getting upfield with ease and transitioning from receiver to runner quickly.
While Moore's strength and toughness may surprise defenders, one thing that won't come as a surprise is his athleticism. He is explosive off the line of scrimmage and his quick and sudden feet during his routes can put defenders in blenders. He is able to sink and explode with his breaks, picking up speed and getting easy separation from man coverage as long as he keeps a cornerback's hands off of him. He has the speed to threaten a defense over the top as a vertical threat as well, especially since he eats up cushions in coverage the way he does.
This type of athleticism was displayed at Moore's pro day as he put up some truly elite numbers. He recorded a 6.66-second three-cone, ran a 4.35-second 40-yard dash, and recorded a 4.00-second shuttle. His explosion numbers weren't as impressive, but that matches up with his game.
Then there is Moore's versatility. As a receiver, his alignment was essentially only as a slot, but he was also used as a gadget-type player at times, taking screens, jet sweeps, and functioning out of the backfield. He was given this type of role due to his ability to get yards after the catch and the fact that getting the ball in his hands was Ole Miss's best chance to win each week, which speaks volumes about his skill set.
How Elijah Moore Would Fit With the Jaguars
An uber-athletic slot receiver with great hands, good routes, and gadget player possibilities? Yeah, that will fit with an Urban Meyer team just fine.
There aren't many projections in this class that are easier than Moore's. He does so many things well that the only real negative with his game is the fact that he is 5-foot-9. Due to his size, he may be restricted to the slot early on since he rarely saw press coverage in college, but he has the skills to win at all levels of the field, which is a trait the Jaguars have in their other top receivers.
The Jaguars have their starting three receivers already in D.J. Chark, Laviska Shenault, and Marvin Jones, but they could still add an element of speed. Moore brings speed in bunches and could operate out of the slot when the Jaguars utilize four receivers. He could also function in a way as the team's change of pace running back, taking screens, and designed plays out of the backfield like he did at Ole Miss.
If the Jaguars need to add any type of receiver in the draft, it is a speedy slot receiver who is dangerous with the ball in his hands. Moore's traits and track record of production in the SEC make him a good fit for a Jaguars team that shouldn't be done adding to its receiver unit.
Elijah Moore reminds me a lot of the Justin Jefferson evaluation from last season. When you can't think of any one specific area the player struggles in, chances are he can likely be an impact player early. The only reason Moore isn't talked about as a top-15 pick is due to his height.
The Jaguars face a tough decision when it comes to receivers and the No. 25 overall pick. On one hand, Moore fits their team needs and is likely the best pure slot receiver in the draft. On the other hand, this is a deep draft with slot types and whoever the Jaguars' rookie receiver is in 2021, he will likely have to be the No. 4 receiver.
But these questions should be washed away if Moore is on the board at No. 33. He has first-round talent and if the Jaguars hadn't signed Marvin Jones, I would likely say picking him at No. 25 would be a justifiable move. It would still be a justifiable move at No. 33 even with Jones in the fold, however, as it would be too great of a value to pass up.
Moore fits the Jaguars and would give Trevor Lawrence a gifted slot target for years and years. The only real question is what kind of value the Jaguars could get for Moore, whose draft range seems to be somewhere within the top-40 picks.
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