Anticipating Seahawks moves in the draft is a little like trying rescue a cat high in a tree. Every time you get close, the cat goes up another limb instead of trusting the rescuer, until you run out of ladder. Fine, you say, be a snack for eagles.
And sure enough, they draft Malik McDowell, and all that’s left is kitty parts.
Nevertheless, conscience demands that the try be made. When it comes to the draft, the Seahawks are always out on a limb. They need our help.
Desperation is more acute this year, because they gave away their first round pick and, at the moment, will not choose until the second round, 56th overall, and have only two other picks, a fourth and a seventh.
While general manager John Schneider is famous for trading to acquire more picks, the trick is harder this year because the shrunken salary cap limits the flexibility to deal higher-salaried players to teams seeking one last piece (Frank Clark to Kansas City, 2019). At this point, nearly every team can afford only draftees.
Schneider can still deal back, but he needs to check his impulses, because having six picks in the seventh round is a heaping helping of empty calories.
So for purposes of this exercise, let’s assume the Seahawks are non-participants in Thursday’s first round, and stay put for rounds two and three Friday.
Here’s the guy, if he’s still there, that the Seahawks would be shrewd to choose. The irresistible video evidence:
Let us never forget the time that Rondale Moore ran over Ohio State.pic.twitter.com/u3GsJ4ttdc
— Connor O’Gara (@cjogara) August 6, 2020
The guy who threw away the Ohio State linebacker is 5-foot-7 and 180 pounds.
Exactly the kind of freakish athlete that makes Carroll cartwheel.
Yes, it’s unwise to develop a man-crush off a single video. But his entire body of work shouts, “Yards after catch!” That video play was one of Moore’s 12 receptions for 170 yards in Purdue’s 49-20 upset of the Buckeyes in 2018.
Moore could be the next Golden Tate.
I always thought Tate in his Seahawks years was the best I’d seen at YAC.
I might have been right.
Most YAC by a WR last 5 seasons:
1. Golden Tate – 1003
2. Larry Fitzgerald – 674
3. Jarvis Landry – 631 pic.twitter.com/tAxUpG0FKb
— PFF (@PFF) July 19, 2020
At least, that’s how I guess Moore’s upside would look. It’s especially hard to know how he’ll do in the NFL since he’s played seven games in Purdue’s past two seasons, either due to a tender hamstring or a partial COVID opt-out.
But in 2018, he was the first consensus All-America freshman in Big Ten Conference history, and won the Paul Hornung Award as the nation’s most versatile player (114 receptions, 21 carries, 33 kickoff returns and 12 punt returns, 14 touchdowns).
At his pro day in March, his 40-yard dash time was 4.29 seconds (former UW star John Ross set the NFL combine mark at 4.22). His vertical leap was 42.5 inches. From my time covering the NBA, I recall ex-Sonic David Thompson had a vertical of 42 inches. His nickname was David Skywalker.
Many of his plays at Purdue were screens and slants, so he was labeled a gadget guy. In the Seahawks’ Post-Pout World of Russell Wilson, that figures to be a swell virtue. As a slot receiver to complement the deep routes of DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett and the seam routes of new TE Gerald Everett, Moore would be a tender housewarming gift for new offensive coordinator Shane Waldron.
You may recall games against Waldron’s former employer, the Los Angeles Rams, when you found yourself screaming at the television machine: “How did that effin’ guy get so effin’ open?!” With Moore’s skills, you would scream same at your own team, without the question mark in your voice.
It’s true that the Seahawks have perhaps a greater need at cornerback, although Carroll is so fussy about corner play that it may take most of the season to get full impact from a rookie. The Seahawks also have needs on the O-line, either an upgrade at center over Ethan Pocic, or an eventual replacement for Duane Brown, 35, at left tackle.
But for 2021, they are OK at all three positions. They don’t have a difference-making third receiver. And a good rookie in the slot will have an immediate impact.
Pro Football Focus ranked Moore seventh in the wide receiver class, writing: “Moore is a rare athlete not only from a movement skills perspective but also from a strength perspective. Before he even stepped foot on Purdue’s campus, the then-174-pound receiver could already squat 600 pounds. It’s what makes him uniquely capable of not only making guys miss but, to quote Marshawn Lynch, “run through a mother***** face.”
Here’s how another draft analyst put it:
He’s not the best WR I’ve studied in this class, but watching Rondale Moore 2018 for a @CBSFantasy draft profile I’m doing is easily the most fun I’ve had watching any prospect at any position. You want to talk about eliminating angles in space? Stop and start ability? Whoa.
— Dan Schneier (@DanSchneierNFL) April 20, 2021
Remember that the Seahawks intend to be as all in on 2021 as they were in 2020, only without the final-act plunge into the orchestra pit. Management may have thwarted Wilson’s power play by keeping a fence around him for another year. But the idea is to not go through another January/February ice storm like the last one.
Providing him a younger, faster version of Tate to complement Metcalf, Lockett and Everett might take the bitter edge off next winter.
Two final helpful words: Trade up.