2021 NFL Draft Rookie Profile: Elijah Moore (Fantasy Football)
We are now a few weeks into the off-season, which means you are likely familiar with top-tier rookie wide receivers Ja’Marr Chase and DeVonta Smith. Let me introduce you to someone who will be available in the second round of your dynasty rookie drafts, but has the potential to be a very productive receiver at the next level: Ole Miss WR, Elijah Moore. Breaking out at a young age, Moore had two extremely productive years to close out his collegiate career. He operated as a true focal point of the Ole Miss passing offense in 2020, showcasing why he should be considered a Day 2 receiver in this year’s NFL draft.
Let’s dive in!
Editors Note: This article is part of our Rookie Profile series going on until the 2021 NFL Draft. For more on each rookie, check out Andy, Mike, and Jason’s exclusive rookie rankings and production profiles found only in the Dynasty Pass, part of the brand-new UDK+ for 2021.
College Production Profile
Coming out of high school as a 4-star recruit, Elijah Moore received plenty of interest from schools such as Ohio State, Alabama, and even LSU. However, he would forgo those offers and commit to Ole Miss. In his freshman season, he operated primarily as the WR3 behind two highly drafted NFL receivers. You may have heard of them – D.K. Metcalf and A.J. Brown? Despite a mostly quiet year, Moore gave us a glimpse of his potential after Metcalf went down with a devastating neck injury. His best game would come in week 10 versus South Carolina, reeling in 11 receptions for 129 yards. Keep in mind, he did this as a true freshman.
In his final two seasons, Moore became the WR1 of this offense. Breaking out at an age of 19.4, he would rank in the 83rd percentile among all wide receivers. And despite only accumulating 850 receiving yards in his Sophomore year, Moore would finish his season with a 37% receiving yards market share. While his Sophomore year was already impressive, Moore would take it up to 100 with an even better junior year. He improved his receiving yards share to 42%, totaling an impressive 1,193 yards in only 8 games. And according to sports reference, Moore became one of only three WRs in CFB history with three games of 200+ receiving yards and 10+ receptions in a single season.
In summary, Moore had an extremely productive collegiate career. His 29% career receiving yards market share (per game) is tied for 4th in this class. Also, looking at one of the more predictive efficiency metrics in Receiving Yards per Team Pass Attempt, Moore ranks 5th in this class with 2.67 per game. Considering these numbers, Moore’s production profile makes him a high upside 2nd round pick in your dynasty drafts.
40-yard dash (HS)
As you can see by his above measurables, Elijah Moore’s athletic profile does not jump off the page. His current height and weight do not pass the WR1 thresholds that you will find in the UDK Dynasty Pass, which does cloud his upside at the next level. Without the ideal size and strength, we could see him struggle against tighter coverage in the NFL. Unfortunately, neither 247 Sports nor ESPN had a projected 40-yard dash for Moore, so we will have to wait until his Pro Day for that number.
A player that has a similar height and weight combo in this draft class is *Rondale* Moore out of Purdue, who also played primarily out of the slot. However, Rondale possesses a blazing fast 40-time and 40+ inch vertical, which allowed him to succeed as an outside receiver despite his height and weight. Elijah will likely not test as well, which leads me to believe that he will remain a slot receiver at the next level. Regardless, he excelled in that role for the Rebels, and I expect him to be just as productive if he lands with the right team and offensive system.
What’s on Tape
If you followed along with my weekly Dynasty Report, you might already be familiar with my film-evaluation process. In short, I try to watch 4 to 6 games per player, analyzing every snap in each of those games. Let’s dive into Elijah Moore’s tape!
Games Viewed: Alabama (2020), Florida (2020), Vanderbilt (2020), Mississippi State (2020)
1. Elijah Moore is a smooth route runner with explosive change-of-direction speed
Moore frequently found himself open because of his savvy route running. He has decent burst at the line of scrimmage and at the top of his routes, often hesitating just enough to freeze defenders before executing his move. Moore is also outstanding at selling routes and then seamlessly changing direction. Because of his ability to maintain his speed while altering his trajectory, he often created wide-open opportunities down the field. Below is a perfect example of his proficient route running on a double move. Initially running a slant, Moore looked back at his QB to sell his route. Once the defender committed to defending the slant, Moore exploded up the field for an easy touchdown.
2. Moore was consistently open against zone coverage
As a slot receiver, Moore faced zone coverage frequently in his collegiate career. However, he rarely struggled to get open, often finding the soft spot in the defense. Moore also displayed the ability to alter his route to fit the defensive coverage. He would often break his route at the right moment, placing himself in the blind spot of the defense. Furthermore, his deceptive and aggressive route running proved to be very effective on most defensive coverages, including the zone. Considering his lack of size, his ability to consistently create separation and find the opening in the defense will be crucial to his success at the next level.
3. Moore displayed outstanding ball-tracking and reliable hands, even in contested situations
Elijah Moore is an extremely sure-handed receiver, leading all players last season in catch rate with 85%. And in the four games that I reviewed, not once did he drop the ball. What was extremely impressive in his tape is Moore’s ability to improvise when throws were thrown slightly off target, frequently adjusting to make the difficult catch. Despite his size, Moore also displayed great concentration and ball-tracking to reel in several contested targets. According to PFF, Moore compiled 20 contested catches over the last two seasons, which ranks 4th among the 2021 WR class. Simply put, Moore is an extremely reliable receiver who will make even the most difficult catches look easy.
Below might be one of the most impressive catches that I saw in his tape. Adjusting his route to help his scrambling QB, Moore scooped up a reception that was thrown at his feet. He uses his fingers tips to secure the ball while maintaining his balance for the difficult first down.
What’s NOT on Tape
1. While he can be elusive in the open field, Moore struggled to break tackles against physical defenders
Elijah Moore displayed some elusiveness and contact balance in the open field, leveraging his angles very well to get around defenders. However, you will rarely find Moore lowering his shoulder and running over any defenders in YAC situations. On several occasions, facing a defender head-on, he would try to use his speed to run around the DB. At times, he would succeed, avoiding enough contact to gain additional yards. However, there were also moments where the defender was able to initiate contact, and Moore could not break free. Because of his limited size, Moore could struggle against physical defenders at the next level. Therefore, I expect him to continue to rely on his elusiveness unless he adds more pounds to his frame.
2. Moore rarely faced press coverage in the four games that I reviewed
A concern I have about Moore’s potential at the next level is his lack of exposure against press coverage in college. That is partially due to his role in the offense, primarily operating in the slot. And when he did line up outside, they usually motioned him all over the field prior to snapping the ball. In the four games that I reviewed, he faced press coverage once and the results were not encouraging. Moore was pushed towards the sideline, unable to execute his route, and was not targeted on that play. While the results were not positive, it is tough to judge Moore on that one play alone. His size will remain a concern against more physical DBs. Though based on the quickness and burst I saw on tape, Moore might have the explosiveness to beat press coverage. He just rarely received the opportunity to showcase that side of his game.
2021 Fantasy Outlook
If you are drafting in the middle of the second round, you ideally want to find players that have the upside to outproduce their ADP. And in this year’s talented class, one of those players is Elijah Moore. In dynasty drafts, Moore’s rookie ADP is currently at 18th overall and WR9. And even if he does land in a favorable situation, considering the talent at the top of this class, I would assume his ADP remains in that range. As for his potential role for fantasy, Moore profiles as a PPR receiver at the next level. And beyond the outstanding route running and acrobatic catches, his analytical profile really speaks for itself. Operating as a focal point in the Ole Miss offense, Moore displayed the ability to be the WR1 despite primarily playing in the slot. Regardless, I think Moore’s best fit in the NFL would be alongside an already dominant outside WR, which would allow him to operate with plenty of space in the middle of the field. Therefore, teams such as the Chiefs, Packers, or even the Titans would be outstanding landing spots – three teams who already have a bonafide WR1 but could use a versatile playmaker out of the slot.