2021 NFL draft prospects: Purdue WR Rondale Moore

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Eric Edholm
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Eric Edholm's criteria for grading NFL draft prospects. (Albert Corona/Yahoo Sports)
Eric Edholm's criteria for grading NFL draft prospects. (Albert Corona/Yahoo Sports)

Purdue WR Rondale Moore

5-foot-9, 180 pounds

Yahoo Sports draft grade: 5.86 — potential starter

TL;DR scouting report: Mighty-mite slot receiver with explosive ability to produce instant offense, but health concerns and lack of experience are worrisome

Games watched: Ohio State (2018), Vanderbilt (2019), Minnesota (2020), Rutgers (2020),

The skinny: A 3-star Rivals recruit, Moore had committed to Texas but flipped to Purdue. He turned in one of the best freshman seasons in recent memory in 2018, with 114 catches (most in FBS) for 1,258 yards and 12 TDs; ran the ball 21 times for 213 yards and two scores; and returned 12 punts for 62 yards and 33 kickoffs for 662 yards. That season, Moore was named consensus first-team All-America (all-purpose player), first-team all-Big Ten, Big Ten Wide Receiver of the Year, Big Ten Freshman of the Year and won the Paul Hornung Award winner (given to the nation's most versatile player). He scorched No. 1 Ohio State for 12 catches for 170 yards and two rushes for 24 yards in a stunning upset of the Buckeyes.

In the first four games of 2019, Moore caught 29 passes for 387 yards and two TDs; ran back nine kickoffs for 151 yards and five punts for 36 yards; and ran three times for 3 yards before missing the remainder of the season with a hamstring injury. He initially opted out of the 2020 season because of COVID-19 but opted back in when the Big Ten later resumed play. Moore missed three games with what was reported to be a lower-body injury but caught 35 passes for 270 yards and ran six times for 35 yards and a TD in the three games he played. He declared early for the 2021 draft.

Upside: Athletically blessed. Once ran a 40-yard dash in the mid-4.3s, topped 40 inches in the vertical jump and 11 feet in the broad jump and bettered 20 reps on the 225-pound bench press. Squatted 600 pounds as an 180-pound freshman at Purdue. Could put on an absolute show at his pro day March 23.

Thick, RB-like build with small tree trunks for legs. Physicality belies his lack of size. Bulldog style and mentality — not at all a finesse player. Doesn’t tiptoe out of bounds; tries to max out yards and isn’t afraid of taking contact. Carries great strength and explosion for a sub-200 pound player to break tackles. Strong off the line to get away from press coverage.

Looks like he’s shot out of a cannon off the line. Outstanding quickness to get into and out of his routes. Disguises his intentions well and doesn’t let DBs get a bead on what he’s running. Reaches top speed with urgency. Has shown he can win one-on-one matchups vertically. Slot weapon who can corkscrew defenders into the ground.

Terrific yards-after-catch ability — electric weapon. Moves like a speed back with the ball in his hands — can juke a defender or bust through a tackle attempt. Great third-down target for those gotta-have-it conversions. Outstanding hands to haul in tough catches — cut down on his dropped-pass rate each season. Hauled in three out of every four passes thrown his way.

MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA - NOVEMBER 20: Rondale Moore #4 of the Purdue Boilermakers avoids a tackle by MJ Anderson #3 of the Minnesota Golden Gophers during the third quarter of the game at TCF Bank Stadium on November 20, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Golden Gophers defeated the Boilermakers 34-31. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
When healthy, Rondale Moore is one of the most explosive playmakers in the country. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

Do-it-all performer — effective as receiver, runner and returner. Has lined up as a “Wildcat” QB and even caught passes from out of the backfield. Volume target — caught 11 or more passes in half his college games and six or more receptions in all but four of 20 college outings. Had five games with 17 or more touches. Takes a beating and keeps ticking.

Highly respected personal and football character. Outstanding work ethic and highly motivated — has been known to text or call his quarterbacks late at night to ask them X’s and O’s questions. Practices and plays with high intensity. Mentally and physically tough.

Terrific student — earned a 3.71 as a freshman at a tough academic school. Shows up to meetings 20 minutes early and stays late to do extra work. Still very young — won’t turn 21 until June.

Downside: Limited college tape — only seven games and 350 snaps since his breakout freshman season. Multiple injuries will cloud his medical evaluation — at least three known injuries (including hand surgery in the 2019 offseason) that must be fully diagnosed. Durability could be a week-to-week concern. There was mystery surrounding his 2020 injury that kept him out to start the Boilermakers’ season.

Lack of length could limit his vertical responsibilities. Even with his leaping ability, high-pointing the ball against long-levered corners could be a limiting factor. Limited track record of success in contested-catch situations.

Wasn’t asked to go deep much in college — only 24 targets of 20 air yards or longer. Vast majority of his receptions came near the line of scrimmage or behind it, mostly on screens. Limited route tree and limited outside WR experience. Might be a full-time slot for most teams. Will gear down at the catch point at times, stunting his momentum.

Lack of size will always be a bugaboo. Can’t extend too far beyond his frame. Suffered through some concentration drops early in his career. Didn’t hit any home runs on punt or kick returns and wasn’t asked to handle that duty in 2020.

Best-suited destination: There are flashes of ability in Moore’s game tape that suggest he could (and should) receive a more diverse set of assignments. That should come in time as he learns the tricks of the trade at the next level. Early in his career, Moore profiles as a slot receiver, primary punt returner and occasional trick-play weapon for a team that has its outside weapons settled. When healthy, he’s a difference maker.

Did you know: Moore flipped from Texas to Purdue partly because he, head coach Jeff Brohm and co-offensive coordinator/QB coach Brian Brohm all played at the same high school (Louisville’s Trinity High).

Moore didn’t go to high school with Boston Celtics forward Romeo Langford, but the two are good friends who often battle it out in "Fortnite."

Player comp: We’ve made a rule of never comparing prospects to Steve Smith, but Moore is about as close as it gets. From the build to the athleticism to the competitive fire, along with the size and injury concerns coming out, there’s a lot of crossover.

Expected draft range: Round 2