From now until the 2021 NFL Draft takes place, we hope to showcase as many prospects as possible and examine both their strengths and weaknesses. Most of these profiles will feature individuals that the Pittsburgh Steelers are likely to have an interest in, while a few others will be top-ranked players. If there is a player you would like us to analyze, let us know in the comments below.
#4 Rondale Moore/WR Purdue – 5’9 180
– Listed size makes him look undersized, short but not small, muscular frame and plays much bigger than height/weight may suggest
– Twitchy player, great burst, change of direction and playmaker in the open field
– Main part of offense, go-to guy in big moments, got ball in variety of ways and weapon at all levels of the field
– Playmaker, can take over a game, threat to the end zone every time he touches the ball
– Excellent straight line speed, hard to catch in open field
– Much stronger than he may look, difficult for DBs to bring down in open grass and fights hard for extra yards
– Tough, competitive guy, willing to mix things up in run game, willing and able to make tough grabs and absorb a blow in tight spaces
– Shows plus body control along sideline
– Able to make catches outside his frame, does tremendous job of tracking the ball over his shoulder while maintaining speed
– Good separator with great feet, quickness, and bust at top of route, also shows strength to break through contact against DBs who try to bump/reroute him
– Able to beat press coverage with quickness few times he saw it on the outside
– Kick/punt return value though production was only average
– Productive season when healthy (freshman year)
– Left school early, still room to grow
– Short without great length
– Can lose focus and not see the ball in, leading to drops
– Will dance and try to go East/West too much, causing him to lose yardage, tries to make highlight reel play that isn’t there, especially won’t work in NFL
– Can make questionable decisions fielding punts, may have some issue tracking the football
– Mostly played in the slot in college and probably won’t play on the outside much in the NFL
– Gives effort as a blocker but will struggle to consistently stalk block
– Injury-marred 2019 season, ended college career much quieter than how he started
– Not a ton of playing experience
– 17 career starts, just seven over the last two seasons
– Doesn’t turn 21 until June
– Career: 178 receptions, 1915 yards (10.8 YPC) 14 TDs, 30 rushes for 248 yards (8.3 YPC) 3 TDs
– Career: 19.4 KR average (42 attempts), 6.9 PR average (17 attempts)
– 2020: Limited to just three games after dealing with COVID issue, declared for draft in December, caught just 35 passes for 270 yards and zero TDs
– Best season came as freshman in 2018: 114 receptions, 1258 yards (11 YPC) 14 total TDs (12 receiving, 2 rushing)
– Won Paul Hornung Award in 2018 for nation’s most versatile player, consensus Freshman All-American (first in Big Ten history)
– Can squat 600 pounds
– Three-star recruit out of HS, chose Purdue over Boston College, Bowling Green, Ohio State, and Penn State among other (29 offers)
– Caught 104 passes senior season for 1461 yards and 16 TDs, ran for 537 yards and seven additional TDs, also had 2 PR scores
At 5’9,180 pounds with minimal production the last two years, Rondale Moore on paper may look like a late Day Three candidate. But this guy is as fun to watch as anyone and in 2018 at least, was one of college football’s biggest playmakers.
What makes Moore so enticing is the blend of speed, quickness, and importantly, strength and toughness. In college, the 5’8-5’9, 175-180 pound shifty return guy is dime a dozen. Those guys fail in the NFL because the bigger, stronger NFL athletes eat them alive. But Moore is rocked up and has great core strength, able to break tackles and keep his feet moving. Couple examples of that. He broke out on the national stage in 2018 when Purdue upset #2 Ohio State, blowing them out. That day, Moore caught 12 passes for 170 yards and two touchdowns, capped by this amazing play.
And watch him here on this touchdown against Boston College. Bounces off the tackle and immediately gets up to speed, running away from the entire defense. That physical combination of strength and speed is uncommon.
He was Purdue’s biggest playmaker. And by 2019, defenses knew it. Watch how Nevada paid so much attention to him, opening up players behind him. In this first clip, they fake the throw in the flat to Moore and hit vertical over the top for a huge play.
And here, two Wolfpack defenders focus in on Moore on the slant and the pass is complete over their head.
That’s someone who is a real threat to defenses.
Moore was manufactured the ball plenty but unlike, say, Auburn’s Anthony Schwartz, he’s worth getting the ball to a whole lot. He’s a threat every time the ball was in his hands. Exciting player to watch.
While he does drop a couple passes, I think he has good hands and definitely tracks the football well. One of the hardest grabs to make is over your shoulder while maintaining speed. But Moore shows the ability to make it look easy. Three clips (the first was ruled incomplete but still a great grab IMO).
But yes, he does have the occasional ugly drop. Issue similar to Diontae Johnson. Hands aren’t bad but he won’t always see the ball in because he’s so focused on getting upfield.
And he will dance a bit too much and lose yardage in the process. Can’t get away with it in the NFL nine times out of ten.
His end to his college career was a bit strange. After missing most of 2019 with a hamstring injury, he had some sort of COVID issue but returned, didn’t play, and then declared for the draft. Bit of a weird situation teams will certainly won’t clarity on. But from my outsider view, nothing that seems too troubling. 2020 was an odd year for everyone.
Moore is going to fit as a slot receiver in the NFL but he is a versatile chess piece capable of impacting offenses in so many ways. I don’t see him as just a quick-game threat either. He can win at all levels of the field. Short, medium, and long. In 2020, he caught a lot of stuff underneath but his yards per catch in 2018 (11) and 2019 (13.3) shows a much more downfield, balanced game.
If JuJu Smith-Schuster walks, there will be a need in the slot. Moore is a different type of player but he is a tough dude and willing/able to go over the middle while injecting big play ability to an offense that thrives on it. And Matt Canada could do a lot with this guy. Reportedly, the team was high on Colorado’s Laviska Shenault in this past draft, who was taken off the board before Chase Claypool. Moore is much smaller but has that do-it-all playmaking ability that partially attracted them to Shenault. My NFL comp for Moore is Randall Cobb.
Will the Steelers take him at #24? Probably not. It’s valid to say he’s not going to be a true #1 receiver and absolute centerpiece of your offense and that’s probably the only top of WR you should be taking in the first round. Still, I came away a big fan of Moore’s game and whoever gets him will get one heck of a weapon.
Projection: Late Day 1-Early Day 2
Games Watched: vs Boston College (2018), vs Ohio State (2018), vs Auburn (2018), at Nevada (2019), at Minnesota