New York Jets rookie Elijah Moore isn’t just a gadget guy, he’s the full package, as Blewett’s Blitz details in his latest film review.
After the first round of the NFL draft—selecting both quarterback Zach Wilson and guard Alijah Vera-Tucker—the New York Jets sat at pick No. 34 (second overall in the second round) with plenty of needs on the roster, plenty of great options on the board and plenty of offers to trade back.
Jets fans had about a 19-hour period to wonder what exactly Joe Douglas and company would do. Taking Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah or Tevin Jenkins was a debate among fans, as right guard and linebacker were both big needs. Should the Jets trade back to accumulate more picks to lessen the blow of trading up to grab AVT in the first round?
Neither option happened. The Jets shocked fans and stayed put, selecting Ole Miss wide receiver Elijah Moore. What? Receiver wasn’t a need for the Jets. They need positions such as cornerback, linebacker, running back and tight end much more than a wideout.
Douglas stayed true to his board, selecting another one of the Jets’ “red star” players on their board, one who they thought wouldn’t fall to them after trading away pick No. 23 and who many pundits had as a top 25 player, one of the top weapons in the draft—a WR who broke multiple of current star receiver DK Metcalf’s and A.J. Brown’s records at Ole Miss, in two fewer games.
You could argue that taking a player at a bigger position of need would make a bigger impact in 2021. The thing is, it isn’t about 2021 entirely, as the Jets are still a few years away from competing (watch out for 2022).
The Jets lack superstar talent on their roster and if they project Moore to be a superstar, it’s the smart pick, especially considering only two of the Jets’ top four wideouts are under contract past the 2021 season, in Corey Davis and Denzel Mims. Furthermore, Jamison Crowder and Keelan Cole will be free agents.
As I’ve stated many times before the draft, the Jets receiver core was deep but it was missing a true deep threat and a gadget guy that is vital in any Shanahan system.
The Jets killed two birds with one stone with Elijah Moore, who was ignorantly initially viewed as a “slot/gadget” guy. While he can fill both of those roles, he offers so much more.
A pick that initially gave me pause, turned out to be one of my favorite picks of the draft as Moore showed some elite traits on film, which turned hesitation into wonder. The wonder why the hell he even fell to pick No. 34.
Let’s take a look at some plays showcasing Moore’s major strengths and weaknesses. Below you will also find a full list of strengths and weaknesses. Plus, we include a full-length (two-hour) episode of Blewett’s Blitz on everything Elijah Moore film.
While this isn’t the “sexiest” play from Moore, it shows a good understanding of route running and some plus traits of the technical side to the craft of route running. Here he is lined up as the near No. 2 (on hash) of this Y-trips set to the field. Moore is facing off-man coverage with the defender squatting with heavy inside leverage.
Moore releases off of the line with his shoulder down selling vertical during his drive phase. As he closes ground on the defensive back, he angles his stem outside causing the DB to open his hips to match Moore. Moore shortens his stride one step before his break allowing him to gain control of his feet while slowing down.
With the DB opened up, Moore reduces his body, leans over his toes and slams his stop/brake steps (left then right) into the ground, making sure to get the most out of them with good body positioning. He then breaks off of his left foot, gets hands-on to push off while keeping his “drive” step under his frame leading to a sharp cut. Good overall technical route.
YAC/Versatility as a runner
Here we see Moore motion from the boundary side (top) and take the handoff/pop pass on the jet-sweep. Initially, Moore gains depth to avoid any quick penetration from the inside. He widens as he reads the kick-out block from the RB on the LB who squeezes the run.
Moore cuts upfield, widens again, breaks one tackle with as he wipes the hand away and another as he cuts underneath of another defender with a club to clear himself. Good display of balance, footwork, vision, ability to break tackles and the versatility Moore offers.
Recorded two plays that happened in close proximity to each other, and neither are groundbreaking but just wanted to show his versatility in the way he was used at Ole Miss.
In the first play, he is lined up as a split back (widened) in the shotgun set. Moore takes the toss and doesn’t have much room to work as there are 3-4 defenders closing ground quickly. Now-Jet Kenny Yeboah misses a block on the DB who maintains outside leverage on Moore. Moore presses the outside/towards the corner. As he closes ground and uses a rocker/crossover which destroys the DB’s ankles. Pushes upfield and keeps TWO arms on the ball as he works through traffic.
In the second play, Moore is again lined up as the split back. Moore takes the handoff on the mid/outside zone. Eyes first go to 5-tech who has outside leverage on his LT, eyes then go inside to the 0-tech. Moore sees the NT widening into the a-gap, Moore presses towards the LOS which holds the NT inside.
Moore sees the open A-gap but continues to widen to create a big running lane away from the NT, while also widening the EMOL and the LB allowing himself a bigger gap. Moore cuts up the A-gap, again putting two hands on the ball as he knows he is coming into contact.
Moore (top slot), runs a post vs off coverage. He comes off of the ball with good pace to close ground on the DB. As he closes ground, he wants to hold the DB outside allowing himself more room inside on the post. Moore does so by taking his stem towards the DB, which effectively holds him outside instead of working inside towards the hip of Moore or stacking the route.
Moore breaks inside showing some speed. QB chucks the ball deep, Moore shows good timing as he attacks the ball at its highest point, body control, and soft hands. Moore also picks up an extra 7(ish) yards as he is able to maintain his balance. Moore might not be the biggest WR, but he makes up for it deep with his ball skills, body control and the ability to high point the ball.
Moore (near slot) shows another example of him winning deep, which isn’t always about just speed but being able to set up CBs. Moore shows that he is able to be patient with his route but very sudden as he breaks.
He stems towards the CB with a slowed route pace which keeps the CB comfortable/doesn’t get him in a backpedal. As he closes ground, he uses a “foot fire” which again, freezes the CB’s feet as he tries to read the break. Moore is now only 3 yards away, with room to the outside vs a flat-footed CB who has to turn and run. Moore breaks outside, fully accelerates and beats the CB deep for the TD.
Even though I’ve already shown examples of Moore’s hands this is another play that really exemplifies it. Moore (near No. 1) runs a dig as a part of this Mills concept. Moore gets his eyes back to the QB who is being pressured, Moore sits in the soft spot of the defense and shows his eyes to the QB, showing him that he is open.
The QB has to throw the ball off-platform, it gets to Moore but it’s low. Moore tracks the ball into his hands, plucks it (it’s a millimeter off of the ground), while in stride and continues to pick up YAC. Moore makes this look easy but it’s incredibly difficult to pull this off.
All of the above
Wanted to put these plays into this smaller portion of the review, but felt it was unfair to just place them into one specific category.
Moore (near slot) runs a sluggo from the slot. Part of what makes his sluggo so good is that he sells the slant portion of the route so well, as he runs it as an actual slant and sells it hard. Moore runs a 5-step slant, with a peak technique outside and gets his eyes to the QB, which sells the safety hard on the slant. The safety drives down to disrupt the slant, Moore breaks vertically after his third step, keeping his feet under his frame leading to a sharp break.
The deep half safety from field-side breaks on the route as he sees the QB loading up to throw the ball and meets Moore shortly after he catches the ball. Moore absorbs a big shot but is able to hold onto the ball. Route running, speed and toughness are all shown in abundance here.
Moore (near slot) runs a deep over vs an off-man defender with outside leverage. Moore breaks inside and vertical. As he gets near his route break, he uses a 3-step “stair-step” technique, meaning that instead of continuing to hold his stem where is going, he bends his route back towards the CB, which holds the CB and doesn’t allow him to get over top or crowd the route break. It also allows Moore to push off of the CB with his body, both propelling himself inside on the break while slowing the CB’s momentum to match the route.
The QB gets rid of the ball late, allowing the CB to close ground on the catch point. Moore attacks the ball, high pointing it with tight hands (ensuring he catches the tip of the ball and it doesn’t squirt through his hands) and is able to bring it in through contact.
Willingness as a blocker
Here we see one of the only major weaknesses in Moore’s game that stands out too often. He is lined up in the slot (No. 2 top of the screen) as Ole Miss runs a veer concept, meaning that if the QB pulls the ball he will be breaking towards the edge that Moore is lined up near, making his block on the CB very important.
Moore clearly shows a lack of effort in an attempt to lock up/drive the CB. Almost letting the CB get in on the stop of the QB. I assume this will be a big emphasis of the coaching staff as WR blocking is a huge part of the run game as runs are typically going to get to the outside/arc.
Some aspects of route running
I want to be clear that this isn’t a “weakness” per see, as he is already an “A level” route runner. But if he were to fix some small things, he could be an A+ route runner.
Moore (top) runs a curl vs an off-man CB. Moore again does a good job selling the drive phase as he shows speed and arm pump. Moore slams his two-stop steps into the ground while staying over his toes and with a condensed body. His third step (right foot), which in this incidence is a “pivot” step, is in line with the yard markers. This allows Moore to work his hips back to the QB as he then sets his break foot (fourth step and left foot in this case), finishing up the route and allows him to drive back to the ball.
Here we see Moore’s “pivot step” isn’t turned as inwards as it could be, slightly locking his hips. Moore also throws his “break” step (fourth step of the break) too shallow which leads to him almost “pop stepping” and creates another false step on this break. This all paired together leaves some slight dead time at the top of the route.
Moore then does a good job coming back to the ball and makes the catch. This is a nitpick, but this is what makes the difference between an “A” level route runner and an A+ route runner, which means a lot at the NFL level.
Moore (near slot) faces a press CB and uses a “foot fire” release, the CB shoots his hands, Moore swipes down his hands and breaks inside. He makes the contested catch and is able to maintain his balance while breaking the tackle and picks up extra yardage.
All well and good at the college level but I have a few issues with this play. While I’m ok with the “foot-fire” release, Moore has to be more ready for the punch from the CB. The CB drops his weight back and punches with two hands making the punch ineffective, but note that Moore’s hands are down and instead of being much more “on guard.”
Moore then breaks inside but with the CB in close proximity and he needs to “cut his route flat” instead of taking it vertically as he does. Taking it vertically, he then takes the route back into the CB instead of maximizing separation and not allowing the CB to contest the ball.
This is a good example of a play that works in college football, but in the NFL vs. any good corner, this route is shut down because of these aspects that I pointed out.
While I don’t have any plays to show his size hurting him, it’s just something to note. Even though Moore plays much bigger than his size, and can still play every position from Z, X, slot to even being lined up as a RB, he may (may being key) struggle to “hold his line,” win contested balls or get off of press against bigger CBs in the NFL just due to his height/weight.
I would’ve liked to see him work more vs good press at the college level (no control of his own) and not so much in space, to give me a better sense of this. Even though it’s inevitable that he may not consistently win jump balls vs. a CB like Richard Sherman, he will still be able to win often, wherever he may line up.
Full list of strengths and weaknesses
- Route running
- Fierce competitor
- Plays bigger then size
- Body control
- Shows ability to use “stair steps” “bam steps” and to hold his line
- Sideline awareness
- Catching technique
- Soft hands
- Ball security
- Showed legitimate ability while lined up as a RB
- Versatility (lined up as X, Z, Slot and in backfield)
- Pace in routes
- Altered speed in routes
- Elbow jams help route breaks
- Commits/sinks into stop steps
- Sells double moves with eyes and commitment to first portion of route
- Dips/lessens to minimize surface area while working past DB’s\
- Subtle hand usage to create more separation in routes
- Keeps feet (drive steps) under frame
- Will hold defenders with pressure steps
- Contact balance
- Body control
- High points ball
- Deep speed
- Not afraid to go up and get ball over middle
- YAC ability
- Attacks CB’s blind spots and leverage
- Sells drive phase
- Routes sharp even with some small technical work needed
- Finds soft spots in zones
- Ball skills
- Size at around 5-foot-9, 180 pounds
- Catch radius
- Strength/size at catch point vs bigger NFL DB’s
- Not a consistently willing blocker
- Lack of reps with tight/press coverage
- Can he consistently “hold line” in NFL
- Wanted to see more square cuts (no fault of his own)
- Needs to know when to “cut his route flat”
- Can slightly lean before break
- Needs to get “pivot foot” more consistency pointed on back breaking routes
He Joe, at the 24:30 mark, you said that you did not necessarily like the route concept because the intermediate route that Moore ran because it was too close to the short route. The QB is under pressure. I wonder if the receiver that ran the short route (curled out/button hook) was looking at the QB and communicated that the QB was in trouble to get Moore to break early? Do WRs do that sort of thing on the field?
Wouldn’t have had a problem with Moore @ 23. Like Moore & Cole in the slot, different complimentary skills. Will have to be creative to move Crowder. Extra weapons are okay.