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Purple Prospect Portfolio: Elijah Moore

The ball doesn’t touch the ground when when thrown to Elijah Moore

Mississippi v Vanderbilt Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

Elijah Moore was a highly touted recruit who attended one of the preeminent high school football factories in America, St. Thomas Aquinas in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Moore was a four star prospect who ultimately chose Ole Miss over Georgia, taking his talents to Oxford.

Moore earned significant playing time as a true freshman. Alongside the likes of D.K. Metcalf, A.J. Brown and DaMarkus Lodge, an 18 year-old Moore logged 36 receptions for 398 yards and two touchdowns. In his first career start, he set Ole Miss freshman single-game records for receptions (11) and yards (129) in a win over South Carolina.

As a sophomore, the Florida native led the Runnin’ Rebels in receptions (67), yards (850) and receiving touchdowns (six). Topping the 100-yard milestone four times, Moore earned third-team All-SEC honors before exploding in his junior season.

In 2020, the junior was a consensus (Walter Camp, AFCA, Associated Press, Sporting News) All-American. Moore led the FBS in yards per game (149.3) and receptions per game (10.8). Moore finished with the most yards in SEC history through eight games (1,193) before opting out for the remainder of the Runnin’ Rebels season.

Moore played primarily in the slot within Lane Kiffin’s spread RPO offense. Moore was featured in motion at a high rate, with 13 receptions when in motion at the snap (12th in FBS).

Moore’s receptions primarily came on the following routes (in parentheses where Moore’s receptions by route ranked in FBS via Sports Info Solutions):

  • 13 slants (2nd)
  • 18 curls (14th)
  • 8 digs (5th)
  • 14 screens (30th)
  • 6 deep double moves (1st) for 282 yards (1st) and two touchdowns (trailed only DeVonta Smith.)
  • 6 jet sweep passes (6th)

Games watched: 2020 Arkansas, 2020 Auburn, 2020 Alabama, 2020 South Carolina, 2019 Cal.

Strengths:

  • Concentration
  • Hands
  • Route IQ

Weaknesses:

  • Boundary experience
  • Press experience

Pass game:

Moore displayed incredible concentration and focus working over the middle of the field in 2020. Reeling in 98.8% of his catchable targets (highest rate in the nation among all players with 70+ targets) with only one drop, the 5-foot-9 slot receiver is as tough as they come over the middle of the field. Has a strong feel for where defenders are when he’s at the catch point, knowing when to secure the ball and brace for contact as opposed to looking to create after the catch. Shoestring catches, slants with a post defender waiting to hit him, tracking the ball deep then taking a lick alike, Moore doesn’t let the ball touch the ground.

A full speed route runner, the Ft. Lauderdale native is lethal on double moves. Forcing defenders to respect his initial breaks, Moore times his double moves so well that they’re nearly impossible to recover on. Safeties in zone coverage are forced to respect slants before go’s, out’s before up’s, and posts before corners.

Possessing incredible ankle flexion paired with fluid hips, Moore has strong burst and acceleration. He burned Arkansas on several double moves, as well as a beautiful sluggo against ‘Bama. Moore flies off the line of scrimmage and flattens on in-breaking routes with a strong understanding of space and timing to chew up grass against zone coverage. Working as a true slot, he creates separation with ease laterally and vertically with full speed routes that waste no motion. Gives very little clues to where his break will be and erases leverage.

After the catch, Moore changes direction and bounces to the sideline often, which breaks pursuit angles. In the open field, Moore ducks under contact and breaks tackles consistently. He’s much more sturdy than he looks. While he doesn’t possess high end top speed, not many can catch him from behind. His start/stop acceleration allows him to weave in and out of traffic with ease. Uses false steps in the open field and crosses defenders up while maintaining speed. Shows a strong understanding of where the first down marker is and usually takes the best path to get there, regardless of contact. Moore returned 39 punts and kicks over his three seasons in Mississippi, showing vision and juice.

While he doesn’t jump out of the gym, Moore times jumps well and competes for the ball. I wouldn’t expect that to be his calling card at the next level, but again, he plays bigger than he looks. Rarely facing press, Moore looked strong in limited action. His release package, concentration and acceleration indicate he should have success when defenders align in press.

Run game:

Moore wasn’t asked to block a ton, as he was often in jet motion away from run concepts. When he did, he showed solid grip and used defenders momentum against them, although he lost a fair share of reps. Effort was moderate as a whole, nothing to write home about considering his smaller frame. He took 14 carries for 64 yards, mainly on jet sweeps where he often sought to beat second level defenders to the boundary for first downs.

Summary:

Moore shows some of the best concentration over the middle of the field during the past few draft classes. He should immediately factor as a starting level slot receiver who moves the chains consistently. His lethal double moves will make defenses pay for crowding the middle of the field against RPO concepts. At only 20 years-old (turns 21 March 27th), Moore is already a polished route runner who skated away from SEC defenses with ease. He can create for himself, haul in inaccurate passes, makes himself available early and works to help his quarterback as plays extend. Moore’s shiftiness, burst and toughness should translate into decent success when isolated or occasionally working on the boundary.

Grade: Round 1-2

One sentence: “Moore projects as a high end slot early on who possesses more juice after the catch than the Cole Beasley’s of the world.”

Scheme fit: slot receiver in a RPO spread attack