Each day leading up to the 2018 NFL draft, I’ll break down one of my top 50 prospects. In some cases, we had to make tough omissions because of injuries, poor pre-draft workouts or incomplete information. For more complete scouting reports on all the prospects, check out the Pro Football Weekly 2018 Draft Guide, which is available for order now.
40. Maryland WR D.J. Moore
6-foot, 210 pounds
Key stats: Moore caught passes from eight different quarterbacks in his three seasons, including four different passers in 2017 alone. Ended career with 33-game streak of at least one reception. Totaled 75 yards receiving or more in 10-of-12 games.
The skinny: Four-star prep and all-state selection out of Philadelphia area ended up at Maryland. Under the tutelage of former Terrapins WR coach Keenan McCardell (now with the Jacksonville Jaguars), Moore started 10-of-12 games as a true freshman, catching 25 passes for 357 yards with three touchdowns. As a sophomore, Moore led the Terps in receiving (41 receptions, 637 yards, six touchdowns) and took over primary kick-return duties by the end of the season.
Named Big Ten Receiver of the Year and first-team all-Big Ten as junior in 2017, catching a school-record 80 passes for 1,033 yards with eight TDs. Despite receiving neither a first- nor second-round grade from the underclassman advisory board, Moore declared early for the 2018 NFL draft.
Upside: Steadily improved production each season and showed tangible growth despite poor QB play. Played with a whopping eight quarterbacks (whose completion percentages hovered in the mid-50s) over three seasons and was the focus of opposing defenses. Well-regarded by teammates and coaches. Never showed obvious frustration despite inaccurate passers trying to get him the ball but played with positive passion and fire.
Lined up all over the field — in slot, out wide, in motion and even in the backfield. Returned kicks and punts effectively. Effective on end-arounds, reverses and even direct handoffs — 17-125-1 career rushing. Used as occasional passer — 3-for-5 passing for 36 yards over his three seasons.
Has stout, compact build. Runs low to the ground, almost like a running back. Fights through contact for extra yards. Has good situational awareness. Feisty, willing blocker on the perimeter — seeks out unsuspecting linebackers and safeties to crack back against. Showed he can be effective red-zone target despite size limitations. Good testing numbers at the combine.
Watch as Moore uses his hands to fight off the jam against longer-armed Indiana DB Andre Brown Jr. to catch the ball, with the hands and body control to complete the touchdown:
Downside: Bottled up against man coverage vs. Wisconsin and Ohio State. Had trouble separating on some vertical routes against fast corners. Occasionally takes too long to gear up to top speed downfield. Some of misfires were not on the quarterbacks — appeared Moore (somewhat forgivably) struggled to get on same page as his passers.
Short arms and small hands. Not a true jump-ball receiver who should be asked to win 50-50 battles. Short-arms passes in traffic here and there. Occasionally will drop an easy one — here’s an example early in a game against Towson that he was dominating (two early touchdowns) where Moore just let it slip through his hands:
Can do a better job of finding the open pockets against zone coverage. Will abandon routes prematurely and not always work back toward the ball. You can see him coast a bit when the ball isn’t coming his way. Bulk of production came on hitches, tunnel screens, bubble screens, etc.
Best-suited destination: Ideally, Moore would land with a team that could use his quickness, field vision and toughness as a complementary option — either in the slot or outside — and not as a true WR1. But with his ability to line up all over the place and return kicks, there should be an immediate role for him somewhere on a creative team. Clubs that could use his skill set include the Indianapolis Colts, Baltimore Ravens, Dallas Cowboys, Carolina Panthers, New England Patriots, Philadelphia Eagles, New York Giants, Oakland Raiders, Arizona Cardinals and Jaguars.
Quotable: “I can’t say enough positive things about how he conducts himself as a football player, student and man. DJ has been a leader for this program since the day I arrived and he’s someone that holds himself and his teammates accountable. DJ has tremendous talent and work-ethic and I know he’ll succeed at the next level.” — Maryland head coach D.J. Durkin
Player comp: Golden Tate
Expected draft range: Top 40 pick
50. Oregon RB Royce Freeman
49. South Dakota State TE Dallas Goedert
48. LSU DE-LB Arden Key
47. Ohio State C Billy Price
46. Alabama S Ronnie Harrison
45. Oklahoma State QB Mason Rudolph
44. Texas A&M S Armani Watts
43. South Carolina TE Hayden Hurst
42. UCF CB Mike Hughes
41. USC RB Ronald Jones II