The Saints have a lot of question marks heading into free agency and the draft. It’s surprising to have wide receiver on that list, but last season, Alvin Kamara led the team with 83 catches. Next season will hopefully see Michael Thomas healthy and back to full strength, but even so, the inability of other receivers to step up while he was hurt is alarming.
Enter Rondale Moore, an undersized weapon out of Purdue. At 5 feet 9 inches and 181 pounds, Moore won the Paul Hornung Award for college football’s most versatile player in 2018. He’s the kind of player Sean Payton is drawn to. He can line up all over the formation, play in the slot, and even get carries if need be. Moore is also the kind of player who can be underutilized by the wrong coach, making this fit a mutually beneficial one.
However, there is a major red flag for Moore: His injury history. Since his breakout rookie year, Moore has played in just seven games. With that in mind, it’s entirely possible — if not likely — that Moore falls in this draft and is available in the fourth or fifth round. Especially with the number of wide receivers available. But if Saints fans have learned anything from players like Kamara, it’s that a player is as valued as the team that will take a chance on him highest. Another team could see the upside of a player like Harris despite his injuries and try to snatch him up.
The other issue for the Saints is redundancy. The Saints already have a special teams ace and undersized receiver in Deonte Harris. So is Moore just a redux of a guy the Saints have started folding into the offense more? In a word: No. Harris was a hidden gem from Assumption, the result of the Saints doing a ton of homework. Moore has strong route running ability out of the gate, an ability to create in space that the Saints sorely need, and the versatility to be used however Payton sees fit. All of these tools are invaluable.
In the early rounds, the Saints undoubtedly have more pressing needs. Another cornerback is important, and some more size at the receiver position wouldn’t hurt, something that Moore does not address. But bigger, more physical receivers tend to go higher than the Saints are picking, and Thomas getting healthy again is an x-factor.
It’s hard to imagine a better fit for the Saints than Moore. His flexibility and dynamism makes him the ideal player for a Sean Payton offense. He would also be an outstanding weapon for whoever is playing quarterback for the Saints next year. Moore as a gadget player could continue to open a Saints offense that’s already pretty open, while allowing Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders to continue to work on the outside.
Moore does need to have touches generated for him. He’ll be best in the NFL when the ball is in his hands, which could have some negative backlash on a Saints offense that thrives when the ball is being proliferated. Naturally, his risk of injury goes up with those touches, which clearly makes drafting him a risk.
Moore would be a hard sell at No. 27. There are enough needs on the Saints that taking a potential project in the first round may not be beneficial for a team still looking to capitalize on its window as the Saints are. Quarterback will be a huge issue to address, but it will take a very specific type of player to get the most out of Moore.
If Moore is available in the second round, or the Saints have the chance to jump up for him within reason, he could also be a tremendous add to a Saints offense that needs to generate some big plays again. Ultimately, his freshman year warrants a trial run in the NFL — but it has to come at the right price.
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