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Saca312

Will DJ Moore become a solid weapon for Cam Newton?

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It must have been so hard for Cam Newton last season. After all, one look at the Carolina Panthers playoff game against New Orleans shows it all – a catastrophe.

Throwing dime after dime, only to watch his practice squad receivers drop those balls, it’s no wonder the Panthers quarterback wants improvement. No, not another uninspiring big body who can’t catch a cold nor gain separation. He’s already been through plenty of those. Rather, Cam Newton deserves someone he can rely on to make plays and be a star.

Sure, the Panthers do have Christian McCaffrey. He’s certainly a play-maker. To add on, they also have Curtis Samuel and Damiere Byrd. They’re likely the Panthers future speedy deep threats. However, McCaffrey is primarily a runningback, and both Byrd and Samuel main strengths are down deep. Also, after last season, it’s clear they need more depth in the play-making department.

So, it’s no wonder Cam Newton was quite ecstatic last Thursday during draft night. After the Carolina Panthers selected Maryland’s DJ Moore, he sent a simple text to Ron Rivera. At first glance, it doesn’t seem like that big of a gesture. After all, he only sent two words total.

However, with those two words, he conveys his true feelings about the pick. With those two words, he sums up his struggles throughout his years in Carolina and optimism for the future in one. With those two words, he expresses an emotion that can only be described as one of total gratitude and relief.

“Thank You.”

As Carolina Panther great Steve Smith said on draft night, “[The Panthers] have never been able to replace me…until now.”

Athleticism + Analytics

One thing the Panthers are looking to change from the past two years is the type of play-makers to look for. Originally, they thought giving Cam Newton big body targets with immense catch radius’ would help propel the offense to success. After all, despite being false, most media analysts paint Newton as a quarterback who simply overthrows too much. With that logic, large receivers with big catch radius’ should be the remedy for that.

However, that did not work out so well. When the Panthers employed the twin tower experiment in 2016, Newton arguably had his worst statistical season. Cam Newton was the NFL’s most aggressive quarterback, with 29.4% of his passes fitting through tight windows. This usually indicates both poor receiver quality play and offensive game-planning.

So, it comes as no surprise that the Panthers have switched their approach to finding more shifty, speedy athletes, and DJ Moore is no exception. With a SPARQ in the 97.1 percentile and measurables that make combine analytics geeks gawk, his potential is through the roof.

Measurable Measurement %tile
Height 6′ 0″ 32
Weight 210 lbs 69
Wingspan 76¼” 37
Arm Length 31⅝” 40
Hand Size 9″ 21
40 Yard Dash 4.42s 83
Vertical Jump 39½” 90
Broad Jump 132″ 96
3-Cone Drill 6.95s 45
20 Yard Shuttle 4.07s 85
60 Yard Shuttle 11.18s 81
Bench Press 15 reps 55

Continuing on, the analytics department also are high on DJ Moore. According to numberfire’s analytics, the Panthers rookie wide receiver was the only one from his class to pass every threshhold. This indicates a player who has plenty of potential to be productive.

Name College Reception Share Receiving Yard Share Touchdown Share
DJ Moore Maryland 45.71% 53.25% 53.33%

In this model, DJ Moore ranks third in reception share, receiving yardage share, and fourth in touchdown share. All around, he’s the best receiver of his class according to these metrics. He shows little to no red flags in terms of production through a numbers driven standpoint.

When considering the rigor it takes to pass this metric’s threshold, it’s a really good sign that Moore is able to do just that. To compare, in 2017, no wide receiver passed numberfire’s thresholds on these three shares. So, based on that, passing such a metric certainly is no laughing matter.

With a shift in perspective, the Panthers have drafted both an elite athlete and an analytic’s crush. The foundation is there, and it’s up for Carolina to build upon it.

Play-maker

Another thing the Panthers have been pressing the past two years is a shift from Cam Newton carrying the offense to getting play-makers to share that load with him. In 2017, they drafted Christian McCaffrey and Curtis Samuel, both versatile swiss army knives with all the potential in the world. However, it was clear Christian McCaffrey can’t do everything on his own either, and Curtis Samuel hasn’t exactly been the most healthy his rookie year.

So, the Panthers looked to the 2018 draft to help with that regard, picking DJ Moore 24th overall. Taking a look at his film, it’s clear why they consider him a play-maker.

Perhaps his best trait, DJ Moore gains a ton of yards after the catch. He is able to instantly switch to runner position and run through contact. He switches to a natural forward lean, allowing him to plow through defenders and explode after the catch. Shows exceptional ability with dropping his weight with precise footwork to stop fast and change direction. Unlike most receivers, Moore is aggressive at the catch point while also showcasing rare ability to fend off defenders and grind out yards.

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Seen above, Michigan employs a screen with DJ Moore as the receiver. After catching the ball, he immediately sinks down to a natural forward lean and starts running. Showing off his explosive traits, he scampers down the field while breaking tackles all the way to the end-zone. From a simple tunnel screen to a home-run, that’s the threat he brings with his game.

He also shows off crisp route running and maintains a deadly explosive double move in his repertoire. When defenders give him space, DJ Moore feasts on it. It’s very rare to see college defensive backs give him much wiggle room. However, when it happens, it usually ends up very bad for the defender. His explosiveness and sudden speed is special.

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Just check out the above clip. The defender plays off opposite Moore at the snap. DJ Moore shows off his deadly double move, then proceeds to explode right past the defender. With a quarterback who can hit Moore in stride, there’s no doubt that would’ve gone for a touchdown. His sudden shift in speed and explosiveness with his routes are incredible.

A play-maker indeed.

Sure Catching Technique

As if cursed, whenever a Panthers wide receiver seemed to be doing well, they would find themselves hurt a few games later. Whether it be Devin Funchess’ arm, Curtis Samuel’s ankle, or Damiere Byrd’s injury, they all had some ailment plague them in 2017. As a result, the Panthers fielded practice squad players for the late half of their season. To add insult to injury, none of them were able to catch a cold or separate from a tortoise, making Cam Newton’s experience miserable.

Now, with DJ Moore coming in the fold, he adds stability and reliability. When it comes to catching, he’s actually performs that action quite well. According to NFL.com’s Matt Harmon, DJ Moore had a 1.5% drop rate, which is really good. Considering the quarterback carousel he’s suffered through, that number is very impressive.

When it comes to evaluating a receiver’s ability to catch, it’s imperative to examine what the player does at the top of his route and the catch point. Can the receiver create separation in contested situations? Will the receiver get physical and catch outside his frame? Can he extend, maintain solid hand-eye coordination, and show control throughout the process of the catch? All these questions and more help determine a receiver’s ability to catch and his overall radius

For DJ Moore, despite having slightly smaller than average arm length, his catch radius is very large. He showcases exceptional hand-usage at the top of his routes to create separation and the upper hand in contested situations. Sinking his hips and dropping, Moore shows off fantastic ability to turn and eye the ball. He can catch outside his frame while maintaining good hand eye coordination, body control, and hands.

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As seen in the above clip, DJ Moore is matched outside against the defensive back. Dropping his hips, he’s able to stop and turn at a very fast pace, positioning himself towards the ball. Using his hands well, he’s able to gain separation at the top of the route. Finally, Moore shows ability to catch outside his frame with ease as he extends for the ball, and controls the ball with solid hand-eye coordination. As a result, he comes down with a solid completion in a contested scenario.

It’s sure nice to know Cam Newton finally has someone he can trust to hold onto the ball for once.

A Learning Process

When Steelers WR JuJu Smith-Shuster was a rookie, there were plenty of concerns about his transition to the NFL. One particular trait analysts harped on was his ability to separate against press/man. One look at this tweet from NFLDraftScout Analyst Dane Brugler and its replies says it all.

Simply put, JuJu never showed good technique against press and failed to separate against man. However, it’s pretty hard to tell that problem ever existed after his stellar season with the Steelers. With 58 receptions for 917 yards, he had a very successful rookie season, establishing himself as one of the best rookies from his class.

With DJ Moore, he also has some of the same issues against press. Whenever he lines up outside, defenders are able to press him and shut him down consistently with early jams. Moore shows poor ability with timing and technique with his release, causing separation issues. To make matters even worse, he shows uncertainty and low confidence on fades and vertical stems, often letting the defensive back run the route for him. Defenders constantly put their hands on Moore early and push him to the outside, since he lacks proper stacking ability.

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In the above clip, DJ Moore is matched up against the Wisconsin corner in press. At the snap, Moore shows off a weak release, allowing the defensive back to remain calm and jam him early. As seen, he has no counter to the move and lets the defensive back stick to him, forcing him towards the sideline. Moore is barely even in-bounds by the time the ball arrives. As a result, he is unable to complete the catch in-bounds and the corner gets off with an easy job.

This isn’t just an isolated issue either. For reference, there’s a cut-up of DJ Moore’s vertical stem routes online as well. His technique simply isn’t there; his route-running sub-par in these clips. According to Matt Harmon, Moore had a 65.4 percent success rate against press, just barely clearing the 40th percentile mark. A below average mark that isn’t encouraging.

After all this, it’s fair to question whether DJ Moore will ever be successful in the NFL on the outside.

However, context is also needed in this evaluation. For Moore, it’s clear it’s not a physical limitation, but rather a technique issue. Nothing from film or measurables indicates any issue physically the ability to perform against press. In JuJu’s case, the Steelers’ exceptional coaching staff taught him fundamentals and proper technique, ironing out his issues during his rookie year. It’s only fair the Panthers could easily do the same for Moore.

WR Coach Lance Taylor may be new to the Panthers, but his impact is already noticeable. For Devin Funchess, it’s clear his development elevated with Taylor’s addition. Showing far more confidence in his route-running and playing style, Funchess has grown so much in comparison to the year prior. Taylor shows he’s able to develop talent, and it’s hard not to expect the same thing could be done for Moore.

For Moore, he needs refinement in the timing of his release and use of hands against the jam. Learning these fundamentals at an NFL level should be able to fix up most of his issues. However, much like a pianist struggles to fix up certain measures they’ve repetitively played wrong, it won’t be the fastest transition. It is a learning process, but it’s a task that can be accomplished.

As long as DJ Moore’s issues with press are fixed, the sky’s the limit for the potential of this explosive young man.

The Now And Future

When evaluating success in the NFL, it’s fair to ponder the question: is it the individual that makes up success, or the team?

Whatever the answer may be, one thing is for sure – football is a team sport. While Antonio Brown and Julio Jones are well known game-changers, they’d be nothing without their quarterbacks. Panthers star MLB Luke Kuechly wouldn’t be as successful if it weren’t for Star Lotulelei and Kawann Short opening gaps on the defensive line. Even Tom Brady still needs wide receivers to throw the ball to.

For Cam Newton, all he needs is another play-maker. Curtis Samuel and Damiere Byrd both excel down the intermediate-deep level, while Christian McCaffrey is the lonesome man capable of picking up the short-intermediate areas. Considering McCaffrey’s elevated role as a pure runningback in this offense, it’s fair to say the Panthers sorely need someone to take the short-intermediate load off him.

DJ Moore may not be what many expect from a traditional first round receiver. As Ron Rivera mentions, he sees Moore playing the F (slot) with the occasional Z. Rather than place him at “X” or expect him to take on a heavy outside role, the Panthers coaching staff recognize Moore’s current limitations and seek to hide his weaknesses and hone in on his strengths early on. By placing Moore in the slot, they are able to take advantage of his great explosive ability in space, and as of now that is currently his optimal spot.

As of now, Moore should be more of a “lay-up” type of player. He will be the guy who converts the short and intermediate areas of the field while gaining his absurd yards after catch. He’ll have the occasional deep explosive play as Taylor molds his ability against press, but early on the highlight reels will likely feature plenty of short/intermediates.

As for a better picture of what his early impact may look like, think of a far more athletic version of Jarvis Landry with far less force-fed receptions. While Landry doesn’t contribute deep, he does pretty well down the short-intermediate range. While the Panthers shouldn’t be so narrow-minded as to force feed Moore the ball like the Dolphins did with Landry, they will likely use him as the go-to guy for Cam's lay-ups.

DJ Moore fills and plugs in a pretty significant hole on the Panthers offense in a non-traditional way. Sure, his stats may not be out of this world as a result, and it’s pretty much guaranteed there will be people out there cursing this pick. However, he’s as safe and sure a pick as it goes when used properly, and it’s fair to assume the offense will be better

However, he is the missing piece to help the Panthers maintain a balanced and strong receiving attack. A guy who can share duties between Wright and CMC in the short-intermediate range.

And to that, Cam Newton says, “Thank You.”

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TL;DR - DJ Moore has all the potential in the world. Athletic and analytics in his favor. Plenty of good looking traits around the short-intermediate range. Needs to work on beating press to be more of a deep threat/on the outside. Day 1 contributor, albeit not expected to be flashy early. Could be a stud with proper coaching.

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Also, forgot to mention a comparison I'd make for his floor and upside.

His floor is a more athletic version of Jarvis Landry. Mind you, I hold a low opinion of Landry, but even. He will excel in the short and intermediate range from the slot, and provide far more athleticism than Landry could dream of. For those of you who are fans of Landry and his game, this could be seen as a good sign. 

And, btw, a more athletic version of Landry imo is good. My biggest knock with Landry is how he's clearly not that athletic and really is overrated from inflated targets. Even then, his role as a solid reliable short-intermediate catcher isn't bad at all, and I'm sure Moore will capitalize more in that area than Landry with less receptions.

His upside? Peak Demaryius Thomas. Would be a joy to see if that comes to fruition.

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Oh, and Golden Tate is another valid comparison I believe Matt Harmon actually makes. Perfectly reasonable to even expect to see him resemble that style early on. YAC monster, excellent catching technique. 

Either way, DJ Moore's honestly one of the safest receivers in this class. Even if he never develops on the outside, his floor is a solid short-intermediate receiver that can give Cam easy first down lay-ups. I'm excited for the kid. His issues are coachable and fixable. As long as he gets on the right path towards improvement, he will be great for us.

 

 

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I wonder how much our scouts and Hurney value analytics? Hurney's history shows his first round talents were analytic freaks. DJ Moore is no exception. Has all the boxes you want checked from production, age, and numerous athletic scores. Some consider him one of the best WR in a while just from an analytics point of view. 

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not high on moore anymore. cant run any routes besides slants and screens effectively, and when he does it's in garbage time. notice how many of the gifs posted were garbage time. top it off with only one (1) good season, and it raises so many red flags.

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6 hours ago, Pi = 3.1SHutYoMouth! said:

Some consider him one of the best WR in a while just from an analytics point of view. 

Very true.

Hurney’s definitely looking at analytics and athleticism in his receivers. That still hasn’t changed to this day.

Luckily, he also got someone that has proven production rather than just potential. He’s the safest WR of this class with a reliable floor and  a high ceiling.

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newton_david.png&w=160&h=160&scale=crop

David NewtonESPN Staff Writer 

Panthers' first-round pick D.J. Moore was prepared to play every receiver position on Friday, the first of a two-day rookie minicamp. What he wasn't prepared for was the hot, muggy temperatures (85 midday) of Charlotte. "People told me [about it], but coming out here running around is a whole other story.'' Wasn't too hot to sign autographs though.

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2h

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On 5/11/2018 at 7:47 AM, bewonee said:

Cant run any routes besides slants and screens effectively, and when he does it's in garbage time.

I don't see how garbage affects ones ability to run a route effectively. Route running is route running. You either know it or not. Garbage time doesn't affect how a person runs his routes against situation x. Sure, you can argue the playcalling differs based on garbage time or not, and the type of routes run, but realistically garbage time is not a variable in one's ability to run a certain route.

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On 5/11/2018 at 1:34 PM, TheSpecialJuan said:
newton_david.png&w=160&h=160&scale=crop

David NewtonESPN Staff Writer 

Panthers' first-round pick D.J. Moore was prepared to play every receiver position on Friday, the first of a two-day rookie minicamp. What he wasn't prepared for was the hot, muggy temperatures (85 midday) of Charlotte. "People told me [about it], but coming out here running around is a whole other story.'' Wasn't too hot to sign autographs though.

777fd513-16fb-4182-884b-4d4c633f41aa.jpg

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Not sure how a guy from the Philly area and who played college ball in Maryland could be shocked by high humidity mid-80s. It gets every bit as unbearably muggy hot in those areas as it does in Charlotte.

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On 5/11/2018 at 7:47 AM, bewonee said:

not high on moore anymore. cant run any routes besides slants and screens effectively, and when he does it's in garbage time. notice how many of the gifs posted were garbage time. top it off with only one (1) good season, and it raises so many red flags.

You have been repeatedly saying this.  Aside from being totally ignorant about the guy, you also seem to be totally ignorant about being a fan.  You said this once, we disagree.  No need to repeat it every time his name is mentioned in a thread.  It simply makes you seem as if you are hoping he busts so you can tell everyone "I was right. Told you."  That is sad.

The fact is, many WRs bust.  Nobody knows who will and who won't.  A lot of football IQs evaluated Moore and determined him to be either the best or the second best WR in the draft.

Thanks for your red flag alerts.  Every player drafted has them.  We get it.

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1 hour ago, Saca312 said:

I don't see how garbage affects ones ability to run a route effectively. Route running is route running. You either know it or not. Garbage time doesn't affect how a person runs his routes against situation x. Sure, you can argue the playcalling differs based on garbage time or not, and the type of routes run, but realistically garbage time is not a variable in one's ability to run a certain route.

I’m fine with the analytics part of your write up, athletically he’s a freak and I expect huge things from DJ. But you see football as science a little too much. ‘Route running is not just route running’ it’s an art that seperates the greats from the goods. It’s as much acting as it is athleticism, how a wr used his eyes, hands and hips to get a dB to play slow and gain seperation.

Because DJ has had so many different qbs, he’s had to focus on a limited tree and  I can’t imagine the we coaching is the best at Maryland. He’ll develop, no doubt about it, but you should consider adding the art of football in to your analytic write ups a little.

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