The projected biggest strength of the 2013 draft class is in the front seven of the defense. This year’s class is just overflowing with talent at the defensive end and linebacker spots, particularly for the 3-4 scheme.
In recent years we have seen an influx of ‘tweener’ linebackers that can play standing up or with their hand in the dirt that all have one thing in common aside from scheme versatility: the ability to rush the passer.
The NFL is a Quarterback league, and thus it is obvious that the second most important position on the field is the one that can most efficiently shut down the opposing QB.
There is a lot of hype this year in several of these pass-rushing prospects, but one name that seems to be flying under the radar is Texas A&M linebacker Damontre Moore.
Moore isn’t the household name like Jarvis Jones or Barkevious Mingo, and he isn’t an athletic freak (as mentioned in my Freak Show series) like Dion Jordan or Ezekiel Ansah. But Moore is a complete linebacker that may be as or more prepared than anyone else at playing in the NFL right away.
Moore’s frame is ideal for the 3-4 outside linebacker spot at 6’4″ 250 pounds. That size is also just a tad shy of what I would consider good for a 4-3 right end (260 pounds). He doesn’t appear to have the longest arms in the class, but that certainly isn’t a deal breaker. He doesn’t have Mingo’s speed, Jones’ fluidity around the edge, Jordan’s coverage ability, or Ansah’s burst.. but he combines an all-around skillset to form a very polished pass rushing skillset.
I sit here bragging about Jarvis Jones and acknowledging Mingo’s raw talent, but the fact is that Moore leads all defensive players in the SEC with 9.5 sacks. That’s more than Jones’ and Mingo’s totals combined.
Stats never tell the whole story with draft prospects, they usually serve as no more than a prologue. However, the fact that Moore has been consistently performing at a high level in the best conference against some very talented teams has to count for something. I still think Jones is the better prospect, but I have Moore ahead of Mingo.
Moore’s intelligence, technique, and strength are all very refined and fit the archetype of a top 20 pick. He is a player, much like Chandler Jones last year, who can come in on day one and solidify one of the outside linebacker positions in a 3-4 and work in a rotation for a 4-3 defense while he bulks up. He will never be the most athletic guy on the field, but he’ll make up for it with his strength at sealing the edge and his ability to keep offensive lineman at bay with his hands.