INDIANAPOLIS — Prior to his sophomore season, Rahim Moore was shown a magazine assessing the Pac-10 for the upcoming 2009 season. Moore was listed as a fourth-team selection. Embarrassed, Moore set out to prove his doubters wrong, studying more film than ever before.
It paid off for Moore, as two years later he finds himself as one of the top safeties in this year's NFL draft, and a candidate to be selected in the first round.
Moore posted career bests as a sophomore, intercepting 10 passes, and making 79 tackles.
"I told myself if I want to be remembered at UCLA and be mentioned as one of the best safeties in college football, I have to have a good season, and I did," Moore said.
However, his junior season has worried many draft analysts, as he intercepted only one pass and saw his tackle total cut in half in '10. Moore attributes this to the increased respect teams had for him.
"A lot of times teams wouldn't throw at me," Moore said. "So I had to switch my game up, play more of a strong safety type, and in our system a free safety has to be a strong safety and strong has to be a free. I mixed it up more and showed teams I can be physical down in the box and that I can be an overall football player."
Still, his low tackle count would seem to indicate that he fits better playing a center field position at the next level. Moore, for one, wouldn't mind a return to the open spaces of free safety.
"I like being in deep coverage," Moore said. "Being able to keep everything in front of me, and be able to recognize routes, read the quarterback and break on balls."
Some have even suggested that Moore's lean frame, at 6-1 and 195 pounds, makes him better suited to play cornerback at the next level. Moore said that some teams have talked to him about doing just that, and he isn't against that switch.
"My background is as a corner," Moore said. "In high school my senior year, I played corner because I guess safety was getting a little too boring. I have been blessed to have some corner skills. I believe when you play secondary and you love football, you should be able to play all three positions (strong safety, free safety and cornerback)."
While his position might be uncertain, Moore believes his talent is undeniable, and is confident that he will land in the first round come April 28, which wouldn't be bad for a supposed fourth-team Pac-10 player.
"I believe I have first-round talent. I believe that I'm special. I believe that my hard work and my film and my accolades have spoken a lot," Moore said. "But you know what, I can't be the judge, it's all about that one team that will fall in love, Hopefully on Draft Day I'm in the first round and my dream can come true."