Riley Moss, CB, Iowa | NFL Draft Scouting Report

The next prospect off the Iowa Hawkeyes DB carousel, where does CB Riley Moss' scouting report place him in the 2023 NFL Draft?

With at least one defensive prospect selected in the last six NFL Drafts, the Iowa Hawkeyes are a renowned pro factory. Following in the footsteps of Desmond King, Josh Jackson, Amani Hooker, Michael Ojemudia, Geno Stone, and Dane Belton, Iowa CB Riley Moss’ scouting report details a 2023 NFL Draft prospect worthy of further attention.

Riley Moss NFL Draft Profile

  • Position: Cornerback
  • School: Iowa
  • Current Year: Senior
  • Height/Weight: 6’1″, 193 pounds
  • Length: 30″
  • Hand Size: 9 1/2″

Despite his two-star recruit billing, Moss was a star at Ankeny Centennial in Iowa. He didn’t join varsity until his junior year, but once he did, Moss dazzled as a receiver, defensive back, and kick returner.

After posting four interceptions and three scores (one punt return, one kick return, and one receiving) across his final two seasons and helping lead Centennial to a 19-5 record, the flow of accolades nearly drowned Moss.

He earned first-team Class 4A all-state and all-district honors, was named to the Des Moines Register Elite All-State team, and was a finalist for State of Iowa Male Athlete of the Year recognition as a senior.

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But wait, there’s more! Moss also lettered in track as a sprinter and hurdler, winning the state championship in the 110m high hurdles and setting an Iowa all-time record of 13.85 seconds as a senior. He was also a member of the state champion 800m relay team and the 400m relay squad that placed second. And as a junior, Moss was the shuttle hurdle state champion.

As the high school chapter of his sports story closed, Moss committed to North Dakota State, with most of his offers coming from the FCS ranks. But a late push from hometown school and Big Ten powerhouse Iowa was enough to sway his decision.

Five years later, Moss again finishes a chapter of his book with nearly all the achievements he could attain: Senior Bowl invite, NFL Combine invite, first-team All-Big Ten (2022), first-team All-American (2021), 2021 Big Ten DB of the Year, permanent team captain (2022), Team Hustle Award Defense (2021, 2022), and Team Hustle Award Special Teams (2021).

Yet, after thriving at seemingly every stage, Moss has largely flown under the radar among draft media pundits and analysts. We’re here to change that.

Riley Moss Scouting Report

While there are some who believe Moss is a safety prospect only, NFL teams — and yours truly — don’t buy into that narrative.

“Every team I’ve talked to said, ‘We think you can play corner,'” Moss said during the Combine. “(Teams) asked about safety — asked about nickel. Obviously, you want to be able to play all positions. But for the most part, every team has said, ‘We think you can play corner.'”

Strengths

  • Played in 53 games across five seasons with 40 starts and over 2,500 defensive snaps (per PFF).
  • Vast special-teams experience (nearly 600 career snaps, primarily on punt return and field-goal block), even returned kicks/punts in high school.
  • Tested elite athletically at the Combine and Iowa’s Pro Day: 4.45 40-yard dash, 1.49 10-yard split, 39″ vertical, 10’7″ broad, 6.6 three-cone, 4.15 shuttle.
  • As disciplined and patient as you’d expect from an Iowa defender (just six career penalties).
  • Obvious ball skills, flashing his receiver background when the ball is in the air (11 INTs, three returned for TDs, 26 PBUs).
  • Passes off routes well in zone, constantly communicating with fellow DBs.
  • Maintains leverage vs. high/low concepts and is routinely in the right position.
  • Has the speed to easily stay on top of routes in bail technique.
  • Can drive downhill and lay the boom on throws from off coverage.
  • Plays through WRs’ hands and is physical at the catch point.
  • Doesn’t allow many yards after the catch, keeping routes in front of him.
  • Possesses predictive eyes, keying in on QBs and often anticipating route concepts.
  • Crashes in run support, forces runs back inside/causes ball carriers to stop their feet when hitting the edge, and quickly gets off WR blocks.

Areas for Improvement

  • Is more passive in coverage than you’d like at times, sitting until the throw is released rather than beating the ball to the spot.
  • Length is shorter than most teams would like in a zone corner and shows up in his tackling radius and ability to smother WRs downfield.
  • Longer, bigger WRs can give him fits mid-route due to a lack of play strength (see: Stanford’s Michael Wilson vs. Moss at the Senior Bowl).
  • Not a liability as a tackler but can more consistently break down and come to balance to ensure he finishes.
  • Can improve his footwork for smoother transitions in and out of breaks.
  • Propensity to get lost vs. hard fakes and multi-breaking routes in man coverage.
  • Although injuries haven’t played a massive factor throughout his career, he’s missed seven games (four due to a partially dislocated hip in 2019 and three due to a torn PCL in 2021).
  • Can be late and clunky to open his hips vs. deep routes — speed turn isn’t the smoothest.
  • Is an unknown in the slot with less than 100 career snaps there.
  • Occasionally slips when triggering downhill from his pedal — must keep his legs under his frame.
  • Despite testing, has trouble recovering downfield and will grab wide receivers to aid his attempt.
  • Will get caught focused on watching the QBs’ eyes, falling for deception and allowing receivers behind his zone.

Iowa CB Riley Moss Current Draft Projection

Although Moss’ list of areas for improvement reads like a CVS receipt, he’s an NFL-caliber cornerback. Emphasis on “cornerback” because some analysts have pegged him as a safety-only prospect.

While Moss can provide solid play as a safety and possibly as a slot defender, teams would get much more value from him as an outside corner. With his hip fluidity and tendency to bite vs. twitcher route runners, Moss will likely never be a strong man corner.

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Thus, it’s important to play to his strengths, as the Iowa CB is built to succeed in zone-heavy schemes with his football IQ, awareness, and ability to work downhill. Just imagine Moss in the Pittsburgh Steelers’ defensive backfield playing the boundary.

He may not receive the national attention he deserves, but NFL franchises have certainly taken notice. With his versatility and special-teams experience, I expect Moss to hear his name called in the early-to-mid Day 3 range. And it doesn’t take Colonel Tom Parker to realize Moss’ talents and unique profile as a cornerback.

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