Jot it Down: Elijah Moore Will Be a Star

Oct 31, 2020; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Mississippi Rebels wide receiver Elijah Moore (8) celebrates after a touchdown against the Vanderbilt Commodores during the first half at Vanderbilt Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

There were many great wide receivers in the 2021 NFL draft. We even had one of them, Devonta Smith, win the Heisman Trophy during the 2020 College Football season. However, one prospect wasn’t getting much attention from the media until the days before the draft and then ended up slipping to the 2nd round. This has caused him to go a bit under the radar when talking about rookie wide receivers. Shockingly, the player who was 2nd behind Smith in receiving yards last season has gotten as little attention as he has. Elijah Moore is now in a great situation to prove why he was one of the most underrated prospects of the last draft, and that he is going to be a star in this league. 

College Career

Moore joined Ole Miss in 2018, playing in his true freshman season. He joined a team that had both AJ Brown and DK Metcalf, leaving him with limited opportunities. That season, Moore was fourth on the team in receiving yards, behind Brown, Metcalf, and DeMarkus Lodge. However, he did finish ahead of tight end Dawson Knox, who is now on the Bills, in yards. As an 18-year-old true freshman, Moore showed his talent, but in a receiving group filled with future NFL talent, Moore was stuck with just making the best of his opportunities. Brown, Metcalf, Lodge, and Knox would all graduate that season, giving Moore the full opportunity to take over in his sophomore season.

And that’s exactly what he did. Moore led the team with 850 receiving yards in 2019. The next best total was 192 yards. The Ole Miss offense as a whole only managed 2328 passing yards, giving Moore 36.5% of their passing yards. Moore also finished with seven of the team’s 11 passing touchdowns that season. Every single week, SEC defenses knew that Moore was the only receiving threat on this Ole Miss offense, and he still dominated. Despite having poor quarterback play, and no other receiving threats to keep defenses honest, Moore still was productive, and showed his immense talent. However, in 2020, he was only going to get better. 

Despite playing in only eight games because of a shortened season, Moore racked up career highs in every category. He finished with 86 receptions for 1153 yards and 8 touchdowns. Once again, he was by far the best option on his team, with tight end Kenny Yeboah finishing second on the team with 524 yards. Despite playing in only eight games, Moore finished second in the nation in receptions and receiving yards. Moore was on a monster pace in 2020, and his per-game stats provide a bit more insight into this. 

Moore’s final season at Ole Miss was spectacular and put him right in the conversation for one of the best receivers in the nation. While Devonta Smith won the Heisman, Moore’s per-game stats were right there with him. The analytics support this as well, with his Expected Points Added (EPA) per game being at the same level as Smith. 

Moore had an outstanding college career, and especially his junior season. Because of this, he went into the NFL Draft as a projected first-round pick. 

NFL Projection

While Moore did fall out of the first round, he was quickly picked by the Jets with the 34th pick. The Jets have been determined to surround their new quarterback, Zach Wilson, with talent. After drafting Denzel Mims in the second round last season, they gave Corey Davis a free agent contract in March, adding more depth to the receiver room. By also signing Keelan Cole and Jamison Crowder as the current slot receiver, Moore comes into a crowded receiving room. However, Moore should have no problems becoming the team’s starting slot receiver by week one. The Jets have already forced Crowder into taking a pay cut this season, and with Moore’s talent, expect him to win the job during training camp. 

In fact, Moore has already been impressing observers of the Jets offseason programs so far. He’s been playing both in the slot and the outside so far and been impressive at both. He’s also garnering praise from his coaches, specifically head coach Robert Saleh speaking up about him,

He’s also been touted as the most impressive player at OTAs. Here is the full quote from Connor Hughes, a writer at The Athletic, about Moore from OTAs. 

It’s only June, but for a player who was dominant in college, and now getting glowing reviews in off-season workouts, it sounds like Moore is on the way to stardom. We have seen many stud receivers break out their rookie seasons. Moore just might be following the footsteps of his former teammates in Metcalf and Brown. There are still three months until the NFL season, but once it arrives, Elijah Moore just might be the rookie receiver to keep an eye on.