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 look at Purdue wide receiver Rondale Moore, one of the most electric and athletic playmakers in the entire draft.
Moore had an elite showing at his pro day but also has to answer a few questions about his game entering the NFL. But even with those questions, it is hard to imagine any receiver in the draft not named Jaylen Waddle who could compete with Moore in terms of pure speed.
So, how would Moore fit with the Jaguars? We break it down here.
A four-star prospect out of high school, Moore was a giant get for Purdue's program in the 2018 recruiting class. Kentucky's top-ranked high school player that season (he won the 2017 Gatorade Kentucky Player of the Year), Moore chose Purdue over Texas and several other top college programs.
Moore immediately stepped into a major role on Purdue's offense as a true freshman, seeing time as both a receiver and a rusher. Moore dazzled from his first snap, setting a program-record 313 all-purpose yards in his first-ever game. In 2018, Moore caught 114 passes for 1,258 yards and 12 touchdowns, while also rushing 21 times for 213 yards and two touchdowns.
Moore's highlight moment came against Urban Meyer and the Ohio State Buckeyes. Leading Purdue to a massive 49-20 upset over the No. 2 ranked Buckeyes, Moore caught 12 passes for 170 yards (14.2 yards per catch) and two touchdowns, while also carrying the ball twice for 24 yards.
As a result of his elite production, he earned the Paul Hornung Award, given to the most versatile player in all of college football, while also being named an AP first-team All-American. Since 2018, Moore has played in just seven games, however.
He played in four games in 2019 due to hamstring injuries and then opted out of the 2020 season before returning. He played three games in 2020, catching 35 passes for 270 yards but also missing time with injury.
What Rondale Moore Does Well
The first thing that is obvious about Moore is his world-class speed. He did everything that people projected he would at his pro day, putting up elite numbers with an unofficial 4.29 40-yard dash and a 42.5-inch vertical jump. If any other player puts up these numbers, it would likely the internet. For Moore, it was almost expected entirely. That is a reflection of the speed he showed on the football field for three years, even if he was limited to seven games over the last two years.
For starters, Moore was one of the toughest players to cover in space in all of college football over the last three years. He doesn't have just long speed, as his footwork is explosive, efficient, and decisive. He eats up cushions quickly and is able to easily separate from man coverage thanks to explosive breaks in his routes that actually help him pick up speed.
Moore is a near-impossible cover from the slot thanks to his explosive and twitched-up movements. Without defensive backs getting hands on him, it is hard to hard to contain him. His speed puts pressure on defensive backs and frequently forces mistakes since he causes corners to open their hips up early and also hesitate in coverage.
Moore's most valuable trait will be what he brings to the NFL as a threat after the catch. He has tremendous initial burst with the ball and is decisive and agile in the open field, showing the vision and creativity as a runner to pick up yards when defenders close in on him. His pure speed is already tough enough to corral, but he is so good at making people miss that he is one of the toughest tackles a defender will have to make.
While Moore's size will always be an issue (he measured at 5-foot-7, 180 pounds at his pro day), it isn't accurate to call Moore "small". He may be short, but he is built with a ton of muscle and power and his play reflects this. He breaks tackles at a high rate for a player with his size, doesn't shy away from contact, and shows terrific balance after contact.
As a pure receiver, Moore is a major projection in terms of route running since Purdue used him in such a limited role, but there are some traits that translate. For example, Moore was able to use some of his few downfield reps to display soft hands, the ability to track a ball over his shoulder, and the ability to bring passes in away from his frame.
How Rondale Moore Would Fit With the Jaguars
While Moore's usage as a gadget player at Purdue makes him a tough projection for many NFL teams, he actually seems like a perfect fit for the Jaguars following free agency.
While envisioning Moore as a pure slot receiver who runs a variety of routes is a bit tough right now, the Jaguars don't need that kind of player added to their offense. What they need is speed and playmakers, boxes Moore checks off with ease.
The Jaguars now have four traditional receivers who are more than deserving of snaps and targets in DJ Chark, Laviska Sheanult, Marvin Jones, and Collin Johnson. Moore is best as a slot receiver or as a player who an offense can manufacture touches for; whether using him out of the backfield on carries or swing passes or giving him jet sweeps and screens from the perimeter. The more creative one can get with Moore, who is a bit of a positionless player but is truly an elite athlete, the better off the team is.
If the Jaguars didn't add Jones in free agency, they likely would be better off with a more traditional receiver like Elijah Moore who could slide into the slot instantly. Now, the Jaguars don't need to worry about that because they have enough receivers to trout out a starting unit as is. They are one of the few teams who wouldn't have to limit Moore's role and could truly utilize him to his best ability.
Meyer has already done this with a number of players similar to Moore's skill set in the past, such as Percy Harvin and Curtis Samuel. And offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell coached Harvin in the NFL and also used Jamal Agnew as a gadget player in 2020.
Meyer said before free agency began that he wanted to add speed to his receiver room. He did so with Agnew and Phillip Dorsett, but neither is quite the athlete or weapon that Moore is.
There are likely far too many questions surrounding Moore to feel overly comfortable with taking him at No. 25 overall. He is just 5-foot-7 and played in seven games over the last two seasons. With that said, it is hard to think any other skill player in this draft will entice Meyer quite like Moore.
Meyer has already seen in-person what Moore's speed can do to a defense, and he has been open to the fact that the Jaguars are currently missing speed on their offense. Moore's freshman tape, elite physical tools, and his fit with the Jaguars and their current receiver room make any move for Moore past pick No. 25 a reasonable proposition.
What if the Jaguars do take Moore at No. 25? It would be an understandable move for the reasons outlined above -- and a move I won't be unconvinced could be a possibility -- but it would likely mean passing on a safer player who could play a bigger role on the team. With that said, Moore would instantly boost Jacksonville's offensive ceiling and would be a missing piece to Meyer's ultimate vision.