Hot take: Rondale Moore might not be the best “Moore” at the wide receiver position in the 2021 NFL Draft. Kidding — well, kind of. Purdue’s variant still holds the advantage in established name recognition. But further south, playing for the Ole Miss offense, Elijah Moore is making his case to be a legitimate second-round pick in the NFL Draft. For every game played, his stock only rises further. What makes Elijah Moore such an enticing draft prospect, and how far can he ascend?
Elijah Moore NFL Draft Profile
Weight: 185 pounds
Position: Wide Receiver
School: Ole Miss
Current Year: Junior
In a way, it was expected that an offensive renaissance would be a byproduct of Lane Kiffin’s arrival at Ole Miss in 2020, but no one quite expected Elijah Moore to produce the way he has been. That’s not to say that Moore hasn’t been a promising prospect in the past, however. The marriage between Kiffin and Moore has simply lingered far closer to perfection than anyone could have predicted.
Moore was rated highly coming out of high school; he was labeled as a four-star prospect and barely snuck into the top-25 at his position in the 2018 class. He was joined in the top-25 by other top talents like Justin Shorter, Terrace Marshall Jr., Amon-Ra St. Brown, Justyn Ross, Jaylen Waddle, Anthony Schwartz, and Brennan Eagles. Ironically enough, he was ranked substantially higher than both Ja’Marr Chase and Rondale Moore.
A lot of teams caught on to the former Moore’s talent, as the Fort Lauderdale product was presented with scholarship offers from over two dozen teams, including Power Five factories like Alabama, LSU, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Georgia, and other notable schools like Cincinnati and Purdue.
Ultimately, Moore chose Ole Miss, which would prove to become an even better decision than he had anticipated. It took some time for Moore to catch on as an offensive threat, and at first, other recruits such as Rondale Moore and Ja’Marr Chase experienced more statistical success.
While Elijah Moore enjoyed modest success as a true freshman, Rondale Moore set the nation ablaze with 135 total touches, 1,471 total yards, and 14 touchdowns. And while Elijah enjoyed a significant bump in production in 2019, Chase made all other receivers seem insignificant with a historic campaign, tallying 1,780 yards and 20 touchdowns on 84 catches.
Coming into 2020, Elijah Moore was an afterthought. But now, with Chase having opted out and Rondale Moore out with an injury, it’s Elijah’s turn to shine, and that’s exactly what he’s done.
Elijah Moore tops 1,000-yard mark, sends clipboard flying in insane Week 11 outing
Elijah Moore had 13 catches for 225 yards and two touchdowns last Saturday. It wasn’t his best game of the season (yeah, that’s how good his season has been), but he again bolstered his stardom under the lights. On one particular play, he prompted a gleeful outburst from Lane Kiffin, who tossed his clipboard in the air after seeing Moore utilize his speed to exploit a blown coverage on a 91-yard score.
Moore’s breakaway speed made the difference on that long touchdown, but what truly helped him succeed on the play was his subtle head movement inside the first-down marker. Moore feigned a slant with a quick double-move less than ten yards off the line of scrimmage, and that movement was enough to shake off the attention of the slot cornerback. When Moore entered the blind spot of the linebacker, he burst back upfield, meeting no resistance, and the result was an easy score.
The 91-yard touchdown was the headliner, and with good reason, but even outside of that, Moore still had 12 catches for 136 yards and a score. He continues to be a tremendous dual-threat with his big-play ability and play-by-play dependability. Few receivers can be a short-range run-after-catch threat, a chain-mover in the intermediate range, and a deep threat all in one, but Moore is proving himself to be of that exclusive pedigree.
With two games left to go in the shortened SEC season against Mississippi State and LSU, respectively, Moore now has 74 catches for 1,054 yards and eight touchdowns. He could very well break A.J. Brown’s Ole Miss receiving records, even with three fewer games at his disposal. At the time of this writing, he is the only college football receiver with over 1,000 receiving yards. His production profile is tracking into elite ranges, and he has the diagnostic ability to match.
Elijah Moore paces the league and the NFL Draft class through six games in 2020
In only half the game action relative to 2019, Elijah Moore has already matched his previous career-high numbers while also pacing the league at the wide receiver position, becoming a reliable receiving threat week in and week out.
Through six games in 2020, Moore has 61 catches for 829 yards and six touchdowns, averaging out to 10 catches, 138 yards, and a touchdown per week. Moore has no doubt risen to become one of the premier talents on the college football stage, and although his draft declaration status remains unclear, the true junior might not have a better sell-high opportunity for his draft stock.
Moore hasn’t just been a statistical success — the tape matches up to his production with coveted NFL traits, among them short-range explosiveness, twitch, fluidity in space, contact balance, and surprising toughness at the catch point. Moore also has very good hands, and while he doesn’t have the length to extend the catch window, he’s made tough catches look easy on several occasions with his body control and focus. Despite his size, contact situations don’t scare him.
The depth of the 2021 NFL Draft receiver class will present a challenge for Elijah Moore, but he may already be comfortably in the Day 2 conversation, and he’s only continuing to ascend. He received a very strong vocal endorsement from Lane Kiffin not long ago, as Kiffin compared Moore to five-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro receiver Steve Smith.
“This is a first-round slot [receiver],” Lane Kiffin said of Elijah Moore on November 10. “I didn’t coach him, but [Elijah Moore] kind of reminds me of Carolina’s Steve Smith. Just the stop and start ability is so explosive and a great route runner. Even though I didn’t have him, that would be what I would compare him to.”
That’s a heavy, heavy comparison, but it’s one Kiffin wouldn’t make lightly, especially after utilizing Moore at such a high clip this year. Moore undoubtedly has much more work to do before he can live up to that comparison, but there’s no doubt about the sky-high potential that Moore possesses.
Elijah Moore’s best NFL Draft fits
NFL teams are always in the market for dynamic receivers, and at the end of the day, that’s what Elijah Moore is. He’ll probably have to be relegated to the slot on most of his snaps because his short arms won’t help him against press coverage. But Moore has legitimate game-changing ability with his speed, explosiveness, and elusiveness. On top of that, he’s also an excellent route-runner, a scary run-after-catch threat, and a receiver who can haul in passes amidst contact.
Moore is a complete slot receiver with versatility and dynamic utility, and thus, NFL teams in need of a slot receiver will likely be lining up to acquire his services. When you look at the list, a lot of teams might fall under that category. As many as two dozen teams could be in the market for a player like Moore to improve their receiving core, but the best fits might end up being teams like the Saints, Dolphins, 49ers, Patriots, and Falcons, who have needs specifically in the slot, and would know how to use Moore with the highest efficiency.