By Jim Weber
Ever wonder why so many players no longer work out at the NFL Scouting Combine these days? Your answer can now be summed up in two words: Damontre Moore.
Said McShay in December:
“Moore can win with quickness or power, shows very good closing burst and is the kind of high-motor, high-character prospect the Jags are known to value. He also flashes the ability to hold the point against the run and has the versatility to line up in multiple spots.”
Added Kiper just two months ago:
“The Jaguars were again arguably among the worst pass-rushing teams in the NFL in 2012, and need a guaranteed difference-maker. Moore is that kind of player. I’ve had a pass-rusher as a top need for this franchise going on four years, and Moore checks that off the list. He’s an exceptionally productive defensive end prospect with very good quickness, long arms and elite closing burst as a rusher. He will get to the quarterback, period.”
It was hard to argue with them. Last fall, Moore racked up 12.5 sacks and 21 tackles for loss in the SEC after converting from linebacker, had moments he was completely unblockable (i.e. the Florida game) and was being compared to Atlanta Falcons four-time Pro Bowler John Abraham because of their similarly massive frames. It’s no wonder Moore earned the nickname “DaMonster” from his teammates.
Then the combine happened.
Over the course of about a minute in February, Moore cost himself upwards of $16 million by plummeting from a Top 5 pick to a late-second round selection.
First, Moore did just 12 reps of the 225-pound bench press – the worst of all 37 defensive lineman in Indianapolis and a number even a football fan on Twitter beat. Then, Moore bombed the 40-yard dash with a time of 4.95 seconds – over three-tenths of a second slower than that of rising BYU DE prospect Ziggy Ansah.
And just like that, Moore’s draft stock went up in smoke.
Of course, no one is paying attention to the fact Moore tweaked his hamstring during his 40-yard dash, which hurt his time and prevented him from being able to run at his pro day. Scouts aren’t talking about how Moore then redeemed himself on the bench press by doing a very respectable 19 reps. And draft pundits are omitting the fact that Moore had the best vertical jump (35.5 inches) and broad jump (122 inches) of any defensive lineman in Indianapolis.
Because in the world of NFL scouting, where perception is more important than reality, there’s no recovering once you get blacklisted.
Two unfavorable occurances in Indianapolis resulted in scouts and general managers making the equivalent of a bank run on Moore’s draft stock, and it’s gone into a downward spiral the last two months.
Now Kiper and McShay both currently label Moore as the riskiest defensive lineman in the draft, with Kiper talking about Moore’s fall-off in the second half of the season and McShay pointing out Moore’s inability to get off blocks and his lack of maturity
Hmm … all of those factors didn’t seem to be issues just months ago, when Kiper called Moore an “exceptionally productive defensive end prospect” and McShay labeled him a “high-motor, high-character prospect the Jags are known to value.”
And Kiper and McShay aren’t alone, with draft gurus like Gil Brandt and Mike Mayock piling onto Moore’s falling draft stock.
Moore’s plummeting draft stock reminds me of what happened to Vontaze Burfict last year. Originally called the “next Ray Lewis” and projected to be a first round pick after the 2011 season ended, the Arizona State linebacker went completely undrafted last April after having the worst 40 time at his position (5.09 seconds), botching the broad jump and vertical leap and admitting to smoking pot before the draft. Of course, Burfict went on to get picked up by the Bengals, start 14 games for the team and play at an elite level.
As Burfict showed, the amount of weight that scouts put into the combine is ludicrous and an indictment of the NFL draft process. One bad workout should never overshadow a great collegiate career by a player like Moore.
I hope “DaMonster” makes every team in need of a defensive end rue the day they passed on him due to bad combine results. And I hope every NFL agent with a first-round draft prospect blackballs the NFL combine because of how unfair the process is for players.
Because when NFL general managers and scouts put more emphasis on one workout than an entire career and perception overtakes reality, it’s a damn shame.
Top photo: Brian Spurlock/USA Today Sports