Analysis: What the Giants may have in DE Damontre Moore

If all goes right, the Giants could have another top-notch pass rushing option in Damontre Moore.

If all goes right, the Giants could have another top-notch pass rushing option in Damontre Moore.

When our colleague Jimmy Kempski of Blogging the bEast tackles a subject, he leaves no stone unturned. Such is the case with his recent series on the Giants’ 3rd round selection in this year’s draft, DE Damontre Moore. We are all hoping the Blue has the steal of the draft, here. Jimmy says maybe, but not so fast…..

In February, Mel Kiper had Giants 3rd round pick (81st overall) Damontre Moore going 2nd overall to the Jaguars in the 2013 NFL Draft.

Moore is a big name who played on an extremely high-profile team with Johnny Football down at Texas A&M. Many draftniks in addition to Kiper had him as high as the Top 5 a few months ago, but he slipped to the 3rd round for a reason, the same way Marvin Austin slipped deep into the 2nd a few years ago. Moore’s production was good in college, as he was tied for 9th in the nation with 12.5 sacks:

Moore

However, a big question became his work ethic, which Moore himself has admitted was a weakness in college. It showed in his embarrassing 12 reps on the bench press at the Combine. By comparison, 21 CBs did more. Moore also ran an extremely unimpressive 4.95 40 time. Here are how his measurables compare to other DEs since 1999:


Moore 5

When a player is lighter than 93% of DEs since 1999, and only faster than 21% of them in the 40 and 14% of them in the 10-yard split, that’s a huge red flag.

Because I hadn’t watched much of Moore leading up to the draft, I wanted to get a better idea of his game, especially because of his high production and low draft position at 81st overall. Thankfully, the great folks over at DraftBreakdown.com have 9 of his games intheir Damontre Moore library. I watched them all, and previously shared my notes in a 4-part series. Here’s that 4-part series, where you can see notes of each of those 9 games:

  1. Part I
  2. Part II
  3. Part III
  4. Part IV

On his games alone, I’m of the opinion that he never should have been considered among the elite prospects in this draft class. However, if it weren’t for his horrendous pre-draft workouts, he would have gone much higher than did at 81st overall.

There were a number of things that stood out. I’ll point them out one at a time:

Moore has an outstanding motor.

“Motor” is one of those terms in football that gets thrown around very liberally. If a guy hustles a little, he has “a great motor.” The ease with which draftniks throw the word “motor” around should be offensive to players like Moore, who truly epitomize what it means. In the nine games I watched of Moore, I saw a clear lack of effort just once, which is strange for a player who admittedly doesn’t work hard in practice or in the weight room. Here are a few examples of Moore’s motor:

  • Here’s Moore against Mississippi State. Moore gets no pass rush, tries to bat the ball at the line, doesn’t get it, but then turns and runs more than 40 yards down the field to tackle the WR. Outstanding hustle.
  • Here’s Moore against Kansas State. Note where the Aggies lined him up. He’s over the WR split right all the way at the top of the screen, and he chases the running play down all the way across to the other side of the field.
  • Here’s a play against Alabama. On 3rd and 7, Moore can’t get to the QB, jumps to try to bat the pass, then turns and hustles to tackle the RB on the screen.
  • Another play from the Alabama game. Moore is doubled, and tries to collapse the pocket (to little avail), jumps to try to get a hand on the ball, tries to chase down the runner, and for no reason dives over the pile. You can probably save your energy instead of jumping on a runner who is already down, Damontre,  but I appreciate the hustle.
  • Moore in the Bowl Game against Oklahoma. 4th quarter, roughly 30 seconds left in the game, Aggies up 28, and Moore is jumping on the pile. Love that.

Moore had a lot of sacks in 2012, but I don’t see much in the way of actual pass rush moves.

I’ll show all of the sacks he got in the 9 games I watched:

  1. Alabama: Moore is all but unblocked (TE gave sort of a semi-chip), and Bama ran a boot to his side. Moore almost missed bringing the QB down. I did like that Moore pursued the QB aggressively here, but this was a fairly unimpressive sack.
  2. Mississippi State #1: Moore hits his inside stunt hard and blows right past the center, who serves as little more than tackling dummy in quicksand. Nice job by Moore nevertheless, as he gets the sack. Bonus points for grabbing the QB’s throwing arm and almost jarring the football loose.
  3. LSU: Pretty simple inside pass rush here on LSU’s LT, gets pressure, QB tries to escape, but Moore has a hold of the QB’s throwing arm, and he’s meat.
  4. Florida #1: Coverage sack. Nothing special about Moore’s pass rush here. Credit his outstanding motor, and a dumb decision by the QB not to throw it away.
  5. Florida #2: Nice inside rush by Moore here on the RG. Moore is simply the better player and wins. Sack.
  6. Florida #3: Coverage sack. 3rd sack of the first half in this game. I’m not sure what Moore’s responsibility on this play is. Does he have the RB in coverage, and when he sees the RB staying in protection and the play breaking down he attacks the QB? That would be my best guess. Whatever the case, once he commits to going after the QB, he gets there and makes the play, although again, there’s nothing special in terms of pass rush ability on this one.
  7. Florida #4: This one is sort of a gift. Moore reads the snap count well and gets off on the ball faster than anyone on either side of the ball but is still blocked well by the LT anyway. The LT eventually stops blocking on the play because it takes so long. Credit Moore again for never stopping.
  8. Louisiana Tech: You’ll hear the announcer say that Moore does a good job using his hands, and he’s dead on here. Moore is able to get his hands into the shoulder pads of the LT, shoves him aside, and the QB is meat. Love the swat at the ball as he’s making the hit, too.
  9. Northwestern: Coverage sack. Moore doesn’t necessarily beat the RT here. The RT for the most part does his job shuttling Moore past when the pocket would have been. Credit Moore for his motor, and for making the most of his opportunity by taking a big shot on the QB.
  10. Kansas State #1: Coverage sack. Texas A&M is in zone, and it looks like Moore has the flat. With no receivers in his area, he attacks the QB, who should have thrown it away.
  11. Kansas State #2: Another coverage sack. Moore drops into coverage, and when the pocket breaks down, the QB is flushed and Moore is there to make the play.
  12. Kansas State #3: Nice one. Watch how Moore keeps the RT off of him by extending his right arm as he races around the edge.

Five of the above sacks were coverage sacks, and Moore didn’t display much of a repertoire of pass rush moves on the others.

What Moore doesn’t seem to have is “bend.” Here’s an example of “bend” by former Texas A&M stud Von Miller (via b/r):

Here’s an example of Jason Babin’s “bend:”

On my favorite of Moore’s sacks (Kansas State #3), look at how upright he is:

Moore bend

You want your pass rushers coming around the end to be able to bend at the waist and knees to cut the corner more sharply and decrease the time it takes to get to the QB, while also giving the OT less of a target to get his hands on you. That takes an incredible amount of athleticism. That is typically not something that can be taught.

At the same time, however, I want to be careful not to suggest that Moore isn’t athletic. Here’s a good example of Moore’s athleticism against Arkansas. The TE tries to cut Moore at the snap. Moore runs right around him, and then right around the LT, gets pressure, smacks the QB as he is throwing, and it’s an INT going the other way. On the replay, watch the QB’s head snap back on the hit.

As for Moore’s lack of pass rush repertoire, that can be viewed one of two ways. The pessimistic view is to just say, “He doesn’t have any pass rush moves,” and leave it at that. The optimist will point to a guy like Bruce Irvin, who was drafted by the Seahawks in the first round of the 2012 draft and had 8 sacks as a rookie. Irvin said that he was never taught how to pass rush.

I feel like, to be honest with you, I’ve never been taught how to pass rush.  The last two years, the 23 sacks that I got, it was all natural ability.  Not to knock my coaches, but they emphasized stopping the run, and that’s what we did.  We never did any pass rushing drills.  I feel like, with the proper coaching and the right people around me I feel like I can be a very productive player in this league.

I can’t speak on the level of coaching at Texas A&M in terms of their ability to teach pass rushing skills, but the optimist might say that if the Giants can coach him up, he can be a player with high upside.

I’ll also note that Moore is always looking to dislodge the football when making tackles, especially when he has a shot at the QB.

Moore is a solid tackler.

Aside from the game against Kansas State in 2011 in which he had a couple of missed tackles, I saw a player who did a good job of wrapping up and getting the ball carrier to the ground. I could show some examples, but they’re boring, so I’ll ask that you just trust me on this one.

Moore is slow in backside pursuit.

A constant theme in watching Moore’s games was the abnormal number of times opposing offenses left him unblocked and ran away from his side. Offenses with do this in order to get “hat on hat” on the run side. By leaving a player unblocked on the backside, they can get favorable numbers in terms of blockers on defenders on the other side. However, if you leave a player with special athletic ability unblocked, there’s the risk of that player making you pay for not accounting for him and messing up the play in the backfield. Opposing offenses routinely left Moore unblocked on the backside, and he rarely made them pay.

I’ll show a few examples:

  1. Against Mississippi State
  2. Against Louisiana Tech
  3. Against Northwestern

This is where you can see Moore’s poor 40 time and 10 yard split in action. He just looks slow in backside pursuit, in my opinion. The Eagles and Redskins run a ton of this on offense, and there’s little a defense can do to make their DE be better in backside pursuit.

Moore had difficulty in the run game against bigger OTs.

As noted above, Moore weighs less than 93% percent of the NFL Combine participants at DE since 1999. Watch what 339 lb. DJ Fluker was able to do against Moore in the run game when Alabama played Texas A&M:

  1. Example 1: Alabama runs right at Moore, DJ Fluker easily moves Moore inside and opens up a huge hole. Fluker has about 90 lbs on Moore.
  2. Example 2: Swallowed up by Fluker and dumped on the ground on a run play to Moore’s side. Borderline hold. Ugly play for Moore whether he was held or not.
  3. Example 3: Completely dominated by Fluker on run play.

Fluker weighs almost 90 pounds more than Moore, so he should win these battles, and he does. Still, it doesn’t change the fact that on most days in the NFL, if he doesn’t put on weight, Moore is going to be giving away at least 30 or so pounds every week. And if he does put on weight, will that make him even slower?

And it’s not always just OTs who severely outweigh Moore who are able to dominate him in the run game. Watch this Mississippi State TE blow Moore off the ball.

But it’s not all bad. When Moore is the aggressor against the run, he can make plays. Here’s a play against Oklahoma in which he slams into the guard, drives him back a few yards, sheds the block, and gets a TFL. Really well done. When he attacks, he can make plays, but when he has to anchor, he’s usually going to lose those battles.

One other thing worth noting about Moore is his play against the read option. Here’s a read option play against Florida where Moore blows up the RB, who does not have the ball. It’s tough to know what Moore’s responsibility is here. Does he simply have the RB? If so, great play. When I think about this play in terms of the NFC East, I think the way the Giants, Eagles, and Cowboys are going to play RG3 is to hammer him as much as they possibly can. If you send the unblocked player directly at the RB, forcing the QB to carry the ball, RG3 may burn you for the occasional nice run, but he’ll take more shots. Make RG3 run the ball. I like Moore’s decisiveness/aggressiveness here, again, depending on his assignment.

Conclusion

I see Moore as somewhat of a “project” with some upside, as opposed to more of a polished, “pro-ready” player. That’s a little odd for a guy from a big school who had bigtime production. If he can develop more of a pass rushing repertoire with the Giants, he can be a guy that they can play on obvious passing downs early in his career. I do worry about him somewhat as a 3-down player, as he was clearly over-matched by bigger offensive linemen in the run game and not a difference maker when teams ran away from him. The 2nd or 3rd round is about right for that kind of player. Moore can be a guy who makes big plays, but ultimately, I see him settling into the NFL as a role player, although potentially an important one.

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