When Thaddeus Moss had a surge late in the season en route to LSU’s national championship victory over Clemson, many people were shocked even to find out that Randy Moss’s son was on the LSU Tigers. Yet, he continued to catch touchdowns every game down the stretch. From when he split the seam against Oklahoma and took it all the way, or from when father Randy was vividly smiling in the stands as he caught his second touchdown in the national championship, Thaddeus Moss has seen a rare late-season meteoric rise to the NFL Draft.
Behind that hype, Moss declared for the draft and was immediately anointed to be the coveted top-ranked tight end in the class. Since that hype has dissipated, many have become bullish on Moss, others are still soaring high on him, and some are even very low on him. He has quickly become a big point of discussion in this tight end class among everyone. The real question that ends up coming up is really, how does Moss stack up against other standouts like Cole Kmet, Brycen Hopkins, Adam Trautman, and Hunter Bryant?
That is a loaded question, but when it comes down to it, Moss has his fair share of weaknesses, but there are a few reasons as to why he might have that ‘spark factor’ to his game that some of these other guys have. Moss is not a superstar athlete, and that will make his receiving abilities capped to an extent. He is, at best, a slightly above-average athlete, but I would argue he is far closer to average on that spectrum. But, there is a big reason why I love his game — his relentless and effort.
There are plays like this in the passing game where Moss does do anything spectacular, but he gives his all until the whistle is heard. Moss has absolute vice grips for hands and does not drop anything that comes his way. And while he is unspectacular after the catch due to his less than stellar athletic ability, he fights for as much as he possibly can. That very mindset that he has here, after the catch, bleeds itself over into his blocking. Just from watching him block, you get the sense that Moss relishes in driving guys right into the dirt over catching a touchdown.
There are plays like this, where you can see Moss relentlessly blocking away, so much so that he wrestles the defender to the ground just through pure grit and want. Moss has an issue with his hands. That is a huge issue, as you can see here. His hands get too wide, and because they get so wide, he does get called for his fair share of holding calls. However, if there is one part of blocking that is very fixable, it is hand usage and, more importantly, hand placement. Moss has excellent grip strength, desire, and power at the point of attack to be a good blocker and wash guys right out of their assigned gaps. Moss can thrive at the next level as long as he gets those hands inside and works through the defender’s chest instead of their shoulders.
Similarly, here, you can see him in the bunch set to the right, and as he fires off the ball, and even after it looks like he could lose his defender, he continues to drive him until Clyde Edwards-Helaire finally gets tackled. And coming in at the end of the play is Moss still driving his guy until the final whistle. I wish that Moss would have been Senior Bowl eligible because of reps like these. The wonders it would have done for his draft stock speaks for itself. They would have been the talk of the week among everyone there with this type of effort. And this effort is infectious in you are on the same team as Moss.
On other occasions, Moss overpowers guys right away and lays them directly into the dirt. He is aligned off the line of scrimmage to the right of the right tackle here and lays the wood on this Auburn edge defender. He wins it by simply getting winning with pad level and getting low. The hands are still not placed all that well, you can see he is grabbing the guy’s back even as he drives the guy into the ground. However, you can overlook that when he shows off this excellent pad level and power.
Moss is a polarizing prospect that people need to realize is in the middle of two extremes. I do not think he is the best tight end in this class. The upside on the receiving side of things is just not that with Moss’s inability to separate in man coverage and his lack of athleticism to be dynamic after the catch. Still, Moss overcomes that by being exceptional in contested catch situations, being a master at finding weak spots in zone coverage, and having great hands. As a blocker, Moss has a lot of upside as long as he can fix his hand placement. The tools and desire are all there with Moss, and that is why he can prove to be a starting tight end in this league and a quality prospect for this year’s NFL Draft.