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2021 NFL Draft profile: Ole Miss wide receiver Elijah Moore

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Could our son be the most NFL-ready receiver in this year’s class?

NCAA Football: Mississippi at Vanderbilt Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Ole Miss wide receiver Elijah Moore signed with Ole Miss in 2018 as a four-star prospect out of St. Thomas Aquinas (Fla.). After compiling 1,248 yards receiving and eight touchdowns in his first two years on campus under two completely different offensive coordinators and quarterbacks, the Florida native announced his arrival to 2021 NFL Draft handicappers with authority in 2020.

With the arrival of Lane Kiffin, the emergence of Matt Corral and the surgical precision of Jeff Lebby’s offense, Moore was able to obliterate SEC defenses, making 86 receptions for 1,193 yards and eight touchdowns. Before a turf toe injury cut his season short, Moore was on pace to shatter just about every record in the Ole Miss media guide.

His 86 receptions last season broke former Rebel and current Titans receiver AJ Brown’s school record and he led the FBS with 10.8 receptions and 149.1 receiving yards per game en route to First Team All-American and First Team All-SEC honors. He was also a semifinalist for the Fred Biletnikoff Award, given to the nation’s most outstanding receiver in American college football by the Tallahassee Quarterback Club Foundation, Inc.

Info

Height/Weight: 5-foot-9.5 inches, 178-pounds

Position: Wide receiver

Projected: 1st-2nd round

Arms: 30.125 inches

Hands: 9.375 inches

Pro Day Results

40-Yard Dash: 4.32 seconds

Vertical Jump: 36 inches

Broad Jump: 10-foot-1

3-Cone Drill: 6.65 seconds

20-Yard Shuttle: 4.00

Bench: 17 reps

Strengths

  • Monster three-game finish, averaging 13 catches and 200 yards per game.
  • Has continued to sharpen his routes over three seasons.
  • Consistent vertical push off the snap to threaten cornerbacks.
  • Makes routes look the same each time out.
  • Leverages defenders away from route breaks.
  • Runs a killer “sluggo” route and has plenty of juice to get deep.
  • Slams on brakes suddenly from full speed on comebacks.
  • Caught 11 of 12 targets against Alabama in 2020.
  • Tracks and stacks defender and adjusts into catch-ready positioning.
  • Very tough guy with strong hands.
  • Able to secure catches through hellacious hits.
  • Capable of attacking on all three levels.
  • Excellent spatial awareness against zone.

Weaknesses

  • Average to below-average size for a slot.
  • Has tendency to use elongated step into route breaks.
  • Limited catch radius dealing with tall throws.
  • Could struggle fighting against NFL length when working downfield.
  • Focus drops in 2019 with linebackers closing in.
  • Elusiveness after the catch is average.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Strengths and weaknesses per NFL.com

Overview

As a prospect, Moore is a little bit on the smaller side, but he plays much bigger than the scale says. As the kids say, he’s “built different”.

Moreso, he was able to shake the not as durable stereotype in 2020, hauling in double-digit receptions in every game but one. He’s an uber-competitive athlete who oozes confidence in just about everything he does. Moore is a tremendous route runner that has “phone booth” quickness and good enough speed to run away from slower linebackers and safeties at the line of scrimmage.

Probably his best trait and why ESPN NFL insider Mel Kiper, Jr. has him going in the first round is his spatial awareness. And he’s even convinced fellow ESPN analyst Todd McShay that he is worthy of being taken in the top-30 picks now, too. Kiper isn’t budging on how he feels about the Ole Miss wideout, though, despite other similar prospects being projected higher by others:

Moore is going to be a quarterback’s best friend. He is an explosive and versatile wideout who thrived in the slot at Ole Miss; 64 of his 86 catches last season came when he was lined up in the slot. And he did that in only eight games. He’s one of the most pro-ready receivers in this class because a team can get him touches on Day 1 as a rookie. He’ll be an instant starter.

Depending on what teams are there late in the first, I think Kiper’s pick for Moore to end up alongside his buddy in Nashville makes the most sense. Tennessee has had a rough go of it in free agency, losing Corey Davis, Jonnu Smith, and Adam Humphries and Brown needs someone to take the pressure of him and open up the middle of the field.

If he’s not taken there, he could go 25th to the Jaguars. Urban Meyer and Jacksonville are almost certainly taking Trevor Lawrence No. 1 overall and he is going to need a reliable weapon in his rookie season. Meyer knows all about shifty inside receivers, coaching Percy Harvin at Florida, so he could take Moore there to be his over the middle, stress defenses weapon in year one.

Other than those two round one spots, the Bengals at 38th overall would be a comfy landing spot. Joe Burrow wowed in year one in the NFL before an injury cut his season short and he is more than capable of getting him plenty of touches in Brian Callahan’s offense.

Either way, Moore has the mental makeup and physical skill set to make an instant impact wherever he goes and to be a household name for years to come.