March 08, 2011
With the 2010 NFL season in the books (and hopefully a new CBA soon in the works), it's time to turn our eyes to the NFL draft, and the pre-draft evaluation process. We've already done scouting reports of the top 40 players on our board, and you can read all the details on the first Shutdown 40 here. For the second Shutdown 40, players 41-80, we have the advantage of combine performances and that much more evaluation material.
Over the next few weeks, we'll also be adding Pro Day data when relevant. But we're always going mostly on game tape; the proper evaluation formula seems to be about 80 percent tape, 20 percent Senior Bowl/combine/Pro Day. If you see what you expect in drills, you go back to the tape to confirm. If what you see in drills surprises you in a positive or negative sense, you go back to the tape to catch where the anomalies may be.
We continue the second Shutdown 40 with UCLA free safety Rahim Moore. A rare starter as a true freshman, Moore absolutely blew up in his sophomore season of 2009, grabbing 10 interceptions and earning first-team and MVP awards for his conference from every possible outlet. Things became a bit more complicated in 2010 — Moore picked off just one pass, and his passes defensed totals dropped from seven to four.
"A lot of teams stayed away from me," Moore said of his junior season at the 2011 scouting combine. "We lost a lot of guys up front. We had a lot of youth on our defense. Every year you're not going to have your best stats. But I think this year I showed more I can come downhill, tackle and make other plays. Interceptions are not everything. You have to make tackles for loss, sacks, pass breakups. I think I showed what I can do."
In three years and 37 games, Moore amassed 14 picks, 15 passes defensed, 186 tackles (119 solo), and 23 tackles for loss (20 solo). His tackle totals did shoot up in 2010 (77, up from 49), but was the drop in interceptions really a product of teams throwing away from him? The tape tells the tale…
Pros: Comes up to the front half of a defense quickly from center field or Cover-2 quickly and with good reading ability; Moore closes in on short passes and running plays well from any distance. In 2010, was often the last line of defense for a vulnerable front seven. Recognizes first responsibility as coverage, but will peel off and go after backs without hesitation. Has the speed and short-area quickness to blitz.
Plays the nickel/slot role very well; his sudden burst and toughness for his size (6-foot-0, 202 pounds) allows him to trail slot receivers and still bail out to help against the run. When playing the deep half, he takes transitioning receivers well in zone handoffs. In space, he gets up to speed in a hurry. Aggressive and physical in traffic; will fight off blocks and doesn't give up on tackles.
Cons: At times, Moore's persistence near the line or in the box will get in his way — he's so intent on making plays that he's easily taken out by misdirection. Not a dynamic tackler, but will set and form up to stop ballcarriers. Doesn't always fold in on assignments as the ball's coming in, leading to his giving up cushion in key areas. Prone to gambling on route-jumping at times. Will get overly aggressive and slip tackles. Doesn't have elite sideline-to-sideline speed.
Conclusion: It's not often that you hear the endorsement of a move from safety to cornerback at the NFL level, but unless Moore goes to a team in which there are no designated free and strong safety positions, he may be best in the NFL as a nickel cornerback. That's not the non-starting role it used to be; with teams passing more and more, and doing so from shotgun three times more often than a decade ago, you'll see nickel defenses as the standard.
This makes the nickel corner a most valuable entity in any defense, and I think Moore would be the perfect fit in that role. He's got enough second-level speed to trail slot receivers from off coverage, but he's also got the aggressive on-field temperament required to take on running backs and other screen/swing receivers at or near the line of scrimmage. Babineaux served well as a nickel corner for several years before the Seahawks drafted Earl Thomas(notes) and changed their coverage concepts; Moore could have the same type of "big-play" potential that Babineaux has enjoyed.
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