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NFL Draft prospect to know: D.J. Moore, WR, Maryland

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The Cowboys need a WR. Can D.J. Moore be the guy to help get this offense back to 2016 form?

NCAA Football: Towson at Maryland Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

Blogging The Boys will begin taking a look at some of the NFL Draft prospects that will be in the 2018 NFL Draft class. Some weeks, we will look at potential targets that will be within the Cowboys’ expected draft range. Others, we will highlight some of the elite members of the class.

If you have been following recent mock drafts closely, many experts are predicting the Cowboys go with a defensive prospect in round one. The hot name that is being connected with Dallas is Michigan Wolverines defensive tackle Maurice Hurst, an interior defensive lineman that can help the Cowboys shore up the middle of the defense.

Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller and ESPN’s Todd McShay both have the Cowboys selecting the defensive tackle, though Miller believes that wide receiver is actually the team’s biggest need this offseason.

My top need for the Dallas Cowboys this offseason is wide receiver, but with Calvin Ridley off the board, I have Jerry Jones and friends going after the team’s second-biggest need: defensive tackle. As long as free agent DeMarcus Lawrence is re-signed, the Cowboys can focus more on DT than pass-rusher. And Michigan’s Maurice Hurst has Gerald McCoy-like potential.

The team obviously wants to help Dak Prescott as much as possible. We saw what he could do in 2016 and again at different moments this past season. So with that said, who are some potential wideout targets to focus in on? We have covered Calvin Ridley, James Washington, Christian Kirk, Anthony Miller, and Michael Gallup.

Who else is a pass catcher that can help this offense get back to 2016 form?

D.J. Moore — wide receiver, Maryland Terrapins

5-foot-11
215
Junior

Northwestern v Maryland Photo by G Fiume/Maryland Terrapins/Getty Images

D.J. Moore was regarded as one of the top-400 recruits in the class of 2015 when he decided to ink with the Maryland Terps over offers from programs such as Duke and Indiana and home-state Pittsburgh and Temple. The Philadelphia native was ranked as the nation’s 47th-best wide receiver and the tenth best prospect in the state of Pennsylvania in the 2015 recruiting cycle, according to the 247Sports Composite.

Moore quickly became an impact player for the Terps as soon as his freshman season, playing in eleven games and starting in ten during the 2015 fall. The Philly native caught 25 passes for 357 yards and three scores, averaging over 14 yards per reception over his debut campaign. It was a quality start to his collegiate career.

As a sophomore though, Moore’s role began to expand. With a full offseason and season under his belt, the Terps’ offense began to go more and more through the speedy receiver. In 2016, D.J. Moore hauled in 41 balls for 637 yards and six touchdown receptions. His big-play threat reputation continued, as the speedy Moore averaged over 15 yards each time he caught a pass.

Moore exploded onto the scene in 2017.

D.J. Moore put together a pair of solid seasons in 2015 and 2016, but the wideout reached a completely different level in 2017. Moore was unquestionably the Maryland’s go-to threat each and every game, and he made defenses pay on Saturday’s.

Moore totaled career highs across the board during his junior season this past fall. The speedster caught 80 passes (the most in a single season in University of Maryland history) for 1,033 yards and eight touchdowns in 2017. In addition to his playmaking skills out wide, Maryland utilized Moore in the punt return game — where he returned 15 punts for 153 yards, good for a 10.2 yard average. As you can see, Moore has the talent and the explosion to make an impact on both offense and on special teams.

The talented Maryland product earned lots of accolades for his breakout junior campaign: First team All-Big Ten, All-American honors, and he took home the Big Ten’s Richter-Howard Wide Receiver of the Year award after putting together one of the best seasons from a wide receiver across the nation this past fall. It is no wonder why he is considered to be a top wideout prospect for teams looking for help at the position in the first two rounds of the upcoming draft.

What do the experts think of Moore?

Draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah considers Moore to be “top 40 type player” in this draft class. He notes his quickness and his route-running, something that is music to the ears of Dak Prescott and the Cowboys.

Moore has game-breaking speed. Just take a look at this clip of Moore taking a quick pass 50+ yards for six, while breaking a couple of tackles and making a well-coached defense look foolish. Who wouldn’t to see this in AT&T Stadium?

Furthermore, Matt Miller of Bleacher Report is also high on the Maryland receiver — having Moore going to the Packers with the 45th pick of his most recent seven-round mock draft. He ranks Moore as the 42nd best player overall and the fourth best receiver in the draft on his latest big board. Miller also appears to think highly of Moore when asked who he sees as a solid receiver in the 2-4 round range.

Additionally, Brandon Gdula of Number Fire wrote an interesting piece detailing which collegiate receivers dominated the most games in 2017. D.J. Moore came out on top of the rankings.

Moore, 5’11” and 215 pounds, generated at least 40% of Maryland’s receiving yardage in 9 of his 12 games (75.0%) and at least half of their receiving yards in 8 of 12 (66.7%). Remember, Wilson ranks second among the class with marks of 50.0% and 28.6%, respectively. Whew.

Moore’s Terrapins struggled offensively this season, ranking 113th in S&P+ overall and 74th through the air, but Moore’s 43.6% target market share sure does suggest he can handle a big workload at the next level. And the results suggest he can produce even in a poor situation.

So, you can look at Moore’s lack of 100-yard games (three), but just keep in mind that the Terrapins broke 220 yards passing once and maxed out at 255 yards. By market shares, nobody dominated quite like Moore among this year’s receiver class.

And it wasn’t against weak competition, either:

Only once did Moore fall below a 34.4% receiving market share (23.1% against Michigan’s third-ranked pass defense). And if you think that he just feasted on weak opponents...guess again.

Other than Towson (an FCS school), all 10 of of Moore’s 11 opponents ranked inside the top 65 in S&P+. The 11th -- Rutgers -- ranked 72nd.

Still not sold? Maybe the excellent Dane Brugler can push you over the edge.

Brugler says Moore is an underrated receiver that the Cowboys should consider selecting.

Who’s an underrated wide receiver in this class the Cowboys should look at drafting?

Dane Brugler: Maryland’s D.J. Moore. His tape gives off a Steve Smith vibe with his shorter stature, but also the route athleticism and toughness. He has a great chance of out-playing his draft slot. If the Cowboys wait until the third or fourth round to address receiver, Boise State’s Cedrick Wilson is an option.

He also considers Moore to be a “Dak-friendly” weapon.

Q: After [Calvin] Ridley, who is the most Dak-friendly WR?

Brugler: There are a few names that make sense: Texas A&M’s Christian Kirk is a fantastic athlete. Maryland’s DJ Moore doesn’t receive enough attention; he’s going to be a good pro. And Memphis’ Anthony Miller, as long as he’s healthy, he is a guy who understands how to get open. All these players make themselves available in their routes and have the ability to turn short catches into long gains.

D.J. Moore seems to be a prospect that may not be a top-20 pick in April, but he is probably too good of a prospect to last until pick number 50; therefore, a team like the Cowboys has a decision to make if they consider picking him at 19 too big of a reach: wait and risk seeing his name come off the board before your second selection, or use the extra compensation picks to trade up.

Whatever the case is, Moore seems to a big-time prospect that can instantly help any offense he gets in. His game-breaking ability allows him to change a five-yard gain into a 50-yard score (as evidenced above). Whichever team gets Moore will get a prospect with a high ceiling and the talent to eventually grow into a go-to target in the NFL.

What do you think, BTB?

*Stats gathered from sports-reference.com.

Catch up with our previous installments below!

NFL Draft Prospect to Know: Austin Bryant, DE Clemson

NFL Draft Prospect to Know: Tarvarus McFadden, CB Florida State

NFL Draft Prospect to Know: Martinas Rankin, OL Mississippi State

NFL Draft Prospect to Know: James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State

NFL Draft Prospect to Know: Dre’Mont Jones, DT, Ohio State

NFL Draft Prospect to Know: Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State

NFL Draft Prospect to Know: Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan

NFL Draft Prospect to Know: Daron Payne, DT, Alabama

NFL Draft Prospect to Know: Isaiah Oliver, CB, Colorado

NFL Draft Prospect to Know: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia

NFL Draft Prospect to Know: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama

NFL Draft Prospect to Know: Harold Landry, DE, Boston College

NFL Draft Prospect to Know: Derwin James, Safety, Florida State

NFL Draft Prospect to Know: Ronnie Harrison, Safety, Alabama

NFL Draft Prospect to Know: Deontay Burnett, WR, USC

NFL Draft Prospect to Know: Anthony Miller, WR, Memphis

NFL Draft Prospect to know: Vita Vea, DT, Washington Huskies

NFL Draft Prospect to Know: Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M

NFL Draft Prospect to Know: Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama

NFL Draft Prospect to Know: Michael Gallup, WR, Colorado State

NFL Draft Prospect to Know: Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech