Two months ago, DJ Moore became Maryland’s highest NFL draft pick in nine years, as the Carolina Panthers took the star wide receiver 24th overall. It was the culmination of an incredible ascent for Moore, who vaulted from three-star recruit to Big Ten Receiver of the Year to the first receiver drafted this spring.
It’s Receivers Week here, so we thought we’d take a look at how Moore’s career is getting started. For a better perspective on his time so far in Carolina, we brought in Walker Clement of Cat Scratch Reader, SB Nation’s Panthers blog. A corresponding Q&A will be on their site in the coming days, and we’ll do it all over again before long to talk about Jermaine Carter Jr.
Testudo Times: When did Moore get on your radar as a potential pick? What did you see in him as a prospect?
Cat Scratch Reader: Moore hit our radar around mid-March, when mock drafts started to agree on what wide receivers could be in mix in the mid to late first round. He looked like he was both fast and quick in his routes, which is a combination the Panthers have been sorely lacking since the departure of Ted Ginn, Jr.
TT: What was your reaction when Moore’s name was called on draft night?
CSR: I was pleased. A lot of pundits projected the Panthers to go with Alabama wide receiver Calvin Ridley. I thought Moore was the better prospect. Coincidentally, Ridley went to the Atlanta Falcons with the next pick in the first round. We’ll get front row seats to their career rivalry.
TT: How have you seen him fit in with the team so far in workouts?
CSR: He’s been fantastic so far, even if we haven’t seen him in pads yet. He was great for the Terps and having a quarterback of Cam Newton’s caliber is only going to elevate Moore’s game even further.
TT: What role do you expect Moore to have in 2018?
CSR: Expect and want are two different beasts as a Panthers fan. I think he should be able to be our number 1 wide out by season’s end and I want to see that. Head coach Ron Rivera, however, is as allergic to starting rookies as y’all are to having a healthy quarterback so I expect to see Moore rotating as our number 2 throughout the season.
TT: Does his game remind you of any current or former receivers (Panthers or otherwise)?
CSR: Do yourself a favor and go watch Steve Smith’s reaction to Moore’s selection on the NFL Network. Smith remains the best receiver in Panthers’ franchise history by a mile. We were tired years ago of looking for “the next Steve Smith.” Hearing 89 himself make this comparison was a fan’s dream come true.