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2021 NFL Draft Scouting Spotlight: Ole Miss WR Elijah Moore

A quick slot receiver who catches everything thrown his way.

As the 2021 NFL Draft approaches, and the Buffalo Bills decide which rookies they want to add to their team, one unconventional choice could be a wide receiver. Seriously, could the Bills add another receiver to the talented unit that dominated defenses last season and then replaced John Brown for Emmanuel Sanders? Maybe they could! Reinforcing a strength can be one way to create mismatches. With that in mind, let’s take a look at one of the top receivers who could be on the board when the Bills are picking: Mississippi’s Elijah Moore.


Elijah Moore (Mississippi) Scouting Report

  • Measurables: 5’9” 178 lbs
  • 2020 stats: 86 catches, 1,193 yards, 8 TDs, 14 carries, 64 yards
  • 2019 stats: 67 catches, 850 yards, 6 TDs
  • Year: Junior
  • Pro day testing: 4.35 40-yard dash, 36” vertical jump, 121” broad jump, 6.67 three-cone drill, 4.00 short shuttle, 17 bench press reps

Summary

Elijah Moore was a four-star recruit out of a high school powerhouse—St. Thomas Aquinas in Fort Lauderdale. He slotted into the Rebels’ offense as a freshman, then led the team in receiving as a sophomore. He set or tied several school receiving records in his junior season, ultimately opting out of the final two games to prepare for the NFL draft.

A small but explosive receiver, Moore has plenty of natural gifts that would make him an ideal slot weapon. The most noteworthy are his hands; Moore routinely makes shoelace catches or casual one-handed grabs without breaking stride. He’s both quick and fast, able to be a deep threat or to shake defenders underneath for a first-down catch. If you’re fine with his smaller size, it’s easy to imagine Moore becoming a reliable possession receiver with big-play upside early in his career.

Strengths

  • Hands made of Velcro dipped in superglue
  • Excellent vision for holes in zone coverage
  • 4.35 long speed and 6.67 three-cone agility
  • Capable of stringing together several advanced movements when running routes
  • Good toughness and physicality against contact, especially given his small size
  • All-purpose weapon used as a slot receiver, backfield target, and flanker in college
  • Astonishing production in 2020—more 225-yard games than <100-yard games
  • Three seasons of experience and growth before turning pro

Weaknesses

  • Can be pushed around on his routes by more physical cornerback play
  • Lack of size probably limits him to the slot
  • Surprisingly, not very elusive after the catch or when running the ball
  • Blocking effort is inconsistent

Draft projection: Late first round to second round


Why he fits the Bills

It may seem strange for the Bills to add another receiver to the group of Diggs, Beasley, Sanders, and Davis, but Cole Beasley and Emmanuel Sanders will be 32 and 34 years old, respectively, in 2021. Grooming a future slot receiver would be a savvy move, and the pass-happy Bills could find a role for Moore even if he’s the fifth- or sixth-best receiver on the roster this season.

Moore could be an outstanding fit for this Bills offense. He offers deep speed, zone elusiveness, and incredible catching ability. In other words, he blends traits from John Brown, Cole Beasley, and Stefon Diggs into one remarkable package. He was also a kick and punt returner in college, and had a sizeable role in jet sweeps and orbit motion for the Rebels, though he wasn’t good enough at either of those to claim Isaiah McKenzie’s job outright.

In year one, Moore would give the Bills talented depth behind Beasley and Sanders, and a player who should be able to handle 25 receptions and a few touchdowns even while competing with everyone else. By year two or three, he could replace Beasley as the team’s long-term slot starter.