Wednesday Notes – Kellen Moore and much more

I’m going to delay this week’s mock draft until nearer Christmas. In the meantime here’s a few things on my mind at the moment…

Boise State vs Utah – Thoughts on Kellen Moore

I’ll be watching the MAACO Bowl tonight between Boise State and Utah. I suspect it’ll be a very comfortable victory for the Broncos similar to the beating TCU put on the Utes earlier this season.

One guy I’ve been asked about occasionally is Boise quarterback Kellen Moore. He’s from Washington so it’s not hard to see why there’s some interest in Seattle. He was a Heisman finalist this year and was second only to Cam Newton in quarterback rating in 2010.

That said, he’s not a NFL quarterback.

Boise State’s publicity and the productivity of their offense has driven Moore’s stock much higher than it should be. You might see words like ‘moxy’ (cringe) tweeted several times tonight as KM moves the Broncos to another solid touchdown drive. When a quarterback’s greatest quality is ‘moxy’ it’s time to ask – “why?”

Moore is listed at around 5’11”-6’0″ depending on where you look. He’s approximately 185lbs and throws left handed. That alone is not a combination geared towards success in the NFL.

His production should be admired as he’s done an excellent job to master the scheme he works in. Reports put this down to solid game intelligence, a strong work ethic and real dedication. That is all good for a solid college career and he’s reaped the rewards with wins and plaudits.

It won’t be enough on it’s own in the NFL though.

If you get a chance to watch the game tonight look at his throwing mechanics. You may notice how often he throws with a slingy side-arm release. That won’t cut it at the next level especially for a guy listed a shade under 6’0″ – he’ll have passes batted down or tipped on a regular basis. It also doesn’t help when trying to generate velocity on medium-to-deep routes – he generally has a weak arm, but the slingy action puts too much air on the ball and will encourage turnovers.

Footwork is also another problem and Moore is a decidedly awkward runner in space.

People like Tom Brady and Drew Brees often get quoted when discussing guys like Moore. They got by without the eye-catching physical attributes and had the smarts and work ethic to win Super Bowls.

Let’s not forget they are very much the exception to the rule. For every Brees, there are a hundred QB’s like Moore that didn’t make it.

It has to be said as well that Boise generally are a deep team and outclass a lot of their opponents. They have a strong defense and an under rated offensive line and receiver group. A sign of their dominance is shown by the fact Moore has only been sacked five times this year – the same number as Andrew Luck at Stanford. Greg McIlroy (30), Jake Locker (47), Cam Newton (21) and Ryan Mallett (21) have faced much greater pressure.

It’s not completely negative, after all – there’s a reason he has the excellent numbers. The scheme plays its part – there’s a lot of underneath and short distance high percentage throws. The competition Moore faces is a lot weaker in the WAC than it would be against any of the top conferences. His game intelligence and ability to make quick judgements is a big plus point and whilst not owning elite accuracy, he’s certainly not inaccurate.

However, I struggle to find any home for him in the NFL. At the moment I’d grade him as an undrafted free agent. He’s a junior and will almost certainly return for another season at Boise. He’ll complete his career a hero for his team, but his future will almost certainly not lie in the NFL.

Cam Newton voted AP’s #1

The Auburn quarterback was today voted the Associated Press’ player of the year. Newton had already won the Heisman, O’Brien and Maxwell awards.

It’s another richly deserved honour for the best player in college football by an absolute mile.

Ridiculously, the aforementioned Kellen Moore was named first-team All-American QB ahead of Newton.

Let’s bring the whole thing into focus for a moment. Newton has single handed taken a likely 6-win team to an unbeaten season, the SEC title and now a National Championship. As a passer, he has the highest QB rating in the country (188.2). He completed 67% of his passes for 2589 yards, along with a 28-6 touchdown/interception ratio. Newton added 1409 rushing yards and 20 scores on the ground – making him the 10th best rusher in yardage and #2 behind LaMichael James for touchdowns.

People wrongly assume he’s a run-first, gimmick quarterback who will struggle in the NFL. They are wrong.

He’ll need to learn a much thicker and more complex playbook and move away from his two-read and run offense at Auburn. Indeed his ability to prove to GM’s and coaches he can be the ‘last guy out of the building’ type will essentially determine how high he goes.

The sky’s the limit otherwise.

Newton has better mechanics than most think – with a nice over the top release and strong arm. He needs to adjust his footwork and throw less from his back foot (he loses a lot of velocity), but he’s capable of some big-time NFL throws and he’s not inaccurate like some want you to believe.

To put it bluntly there isn’t a quarterback in the NFL right now who you could compare Newton to. He’s original and a top-five pick in the making. He’s never been out of that range in any of my mocks – and I’ve included him a lot longer than most.

Over rated or under rated?

Here’s two prospects I think need a bit more love from the ‘draft media’…

– Janoris Jenkins (CB, Florida): Only on Mel Kiper’s big board for the first time this week at #25. Not included in Rob Rang’s latest mock draft.

– Julio Jones (WR, Alabama): Has made significant strides this season yet only considered a border-line first round pick by Todd McShay or Rob Rang.

And two prospects I think are being over rated…

– Gabe Carimi (RT, Wisconsin): Came into the year a R2/3 prospect. Limited stock as a mere right tackle as not athletic enough for blind side, whiffs in space and struggles to stay low.

– Justin Blackmon (WR, Oklahoma State): Won the Biletnikoff but suddenly a top-15 pick instead of the R2-3 grade I have. Not elite speed or hands. Good but not special.

Right tackle in round one?

I mentioned Rob Rang’s latest mock for CBS Sportsline. He had the Seahawks selecting 14th overall in his projection published yesterday (Seattle would actually own the 13th overall pick if the season ended today).

Rang has the Seahawks taking Gabe Carimi with the pick, stating:

“Okung has played well when not hobbled by ankle injuries, but RT Sean Locklear has been the team’s greatest liability on the line this season. Carimi started his entire career at left tackle, but has the size (6-7, 327), strength and nastiness to handle a move to the right side.”

I wouldn’t disagree about Locklear. The Seahawks re-worked his contract to make him a free agent in 2011, so his days may be numbered after a disappointing 2011. Chris Spencer is also a free agent but should be a priority signing after a solid year. Doubts remains at both guard spots and right tackle.

Even so, the line has done better than most are willing to admit when it comes to pass protection. Run blocking has been less successful, but the Seahawks need to determine exactly what they want to do on the line. They started with Alex Gibbs, smaller lineman and the zone blocking scheme. Gibbs departed and bigger bodies were brought in. Is it a hybrid? Is it unclear and confused? Is it responsible for the issues in the run game? Has musical chairs on the line due to injury been an integral problem?

What I would argue is – the Seahawks are not 7-9 because the offensive line has been the #1 issue. The team made a substantial investment when they drafted Russell Okung 6th overall last April. A solid offensive line is not dependant on first round picks.

The Kansas City Chiefs are the #1 rushing offense in the NFL. On their roster they have one offensive lineman drafted in round one (by the previous regime) in Branden Albert. The rest are made up of four undrafted free agents, a third round pick, a fifth round pick and a selection in round six. Most of these prospects were not drafted by GM Scott Pioli in Kansas City, rather picked up in free agency or inherited.

Creating a productive running game is about more than expensie draft picks. It’s also about health, consistency, familiarity and a defined scheme.

The Seahawks have not suffered numerous blow-out defeats this year because of their right tackle.

Seattle’s two quarterbacks have passed for 13 total touchdowns, but 20 total interceptions. The starter – Matt Hasselbeck – is ranked above only Brett Favre, Jimmy Clausen and Derek Anderson statistically. Is that due to the performance of Sean Locklear?

It is obvious to me at least that investment at quarterback, the defensive line and cornerback (all premium positions) is of far more importance.

Quite frankly I would be stunned if the Seahawks spent a top-15 pick on a right tackle. As mentioned above, I also think Carimi is being over rated in that range anyway.

Nick Fairley – strictly 4-3

Not just in Rob Rang’s mock, but also many others (including this piece by ESPN’s Todd McShay) have placed Auburn defensive tacle Nick Fairley with teams using a 3-4 defensive scheme.

Whilst I think Marcell Dareus (DT, Alabama) is versatile enough to play the five-technique (and make him an attractive option for Seattle), in my opinion Fairley is strictly a 4-3 three-technique.

He’s at his best lined up in the middle using his quick burst off the snap and tremendous ability to dodge blocks and collapse the pocket. Playing at 5-tech will make a number of other demands that don’t suit his frame and perhaps detract from what he does best. You want to say to Fairley – “go get the quarterback”. You’re not going to want to ask him to hold his own at the point.

It’ll limit Fairley’s stock if he is considered strictly a 4-3 prospect. Right now there are four 4-3 teams in the top-ten (Carolina, Cincinnati, Detroit and Houston). He’s unlikely to go #1 overall to the Panthers and I expect the Bengals to consider Da’Quan Bowers or – if available – Cam Newton. Detroit have Ndamukong Suh and need to invest in their secondary or with an extra edge rusher. That leaves Houston at #10 as perhaps his first likely destination.

You can see why maybe he might not be the top-5 lock some are projecting.


  1. Cliff

    If Blaine Gabbert does declare for the draft do you see him falling into the 2nd? McShay has him high but If we pick in the top 10 (could happen if we lose our next two) and miss Newton we could take the top player on the board then go after Gabbert in the 2nd (possibly trading up to get him).
    Gabbert just seems to be the QB PC and JS would like. Maybe just me.

    • Matt Q.

      I think we would have to trade up in round 2 to pick gabbert, unless we are picking like 38 or something, even so we could trade back into the late first round to pick him just like the broncos did with tebow. Like you said, i think PC and JS would reallyyyyyy like him, sit him a year thought most likley

    • Rob

      I like Gabbert… I had him in R2/3. You never know how a guy’s stock will rise if he performs in work outs. He may declare and then we have to look at the situation again.

      • ChavaC

        Who does gabbert compare to? I haven’t heard his name a lot so far

  2. 1sthill

    I noticed the last couple of years that Rang & Kiper have overrated or underrated some prospects during the college football season. They might be stat sheet scouts during the season. I’m assuming they don’t do a majority of their scouting of prospects until after the college football season. I think they tend to have better projections of prospects around late January – early February.

    • Matt

      I’ve always thought Rob Rang was not very good with evaluation. He’s very good at claiming “after the fact,” that he “told you so.”

      2 big examples of that this year, were:

      “I told you so about Arian Foster.” Well, if Rang “knew” that Foster could be so great, why didn’t he rate him higher than a late round pick when he initially evaluated him? Pretty convenient.

      “I told you so about Aaron Curry.” Really Rang? You kept pumping him up to be the next great thing, and now claims, “he knew his instincts were clearly hidden by other great defensive players at Wake Forest.” Anyone else think that instincts in a LBer are kinda important? Might affect someone’s draft evaluation.

      Kiper is not bad. McShay is 50/50. I continually think that Mike Mayock is the best talent evaluator around. Obviously they all hit and miss at some point, but Mayock truly does his “own” thing in regards to rankings. Walter football is not bad either, besides the fact that he seems to fall in love with 2 players every year, and grossly overrate them while doing the opposite with 1 or 2 others.

      And obviously, Rob’s analysis is vastly underrated. Keep up the great work Rob. This has been my favorite, must read site for quite a long time now.

      • Matt Q.

        Kiper is a dumb ass, mcshay is 50/50 like you said, but once april comes around i think all mock drafts will be about the same

        • Matt

          Kiper is kind of a tool, but I do appreciate his passion for the importance of the QB position. I think he truly does understand that your team is really only as good as your QB. It’s very hard to build an entire team to win despite it’s QB.

          Obviously, there are rare circumstances where a team can manage it’s way to a super bowl, but those teams usually have other parts of their team that are both rare/elite.

          • Frankfrog

            You nailed it Mayock is money and Staton is very very good. As for Curry I think he’ll arrive soon, he seems just a tick late making decisions this year. At least you can find him on tape almost every play.
            I’m sure no one misses Lockleer already but the chiefs no name o-line relies heavily on great blocking receivers and one of the fastest men in football spreading the defense. I don’t see a oline guy worth a pick in round one but would love to see another mauler lineman added via anyway possible. I think we forget how huge Mack Strong was, as big a part as Hutch and Jones to the Superbowl run. I don’t see Marshaun Lynch as a true power back, Forsett isn’t that consistent big play threat.
            I don’t hate the Idea of a first round tackle, if it’s the best BPA. If you waited for round 2 to get a tackle Unger gets and stays healthy that would be three 1-2 round guys in three years. Resign Spencer who was a 2 rounder I think as well. You could still get a stud QB or WR or CB in round one. Stretching the field helps the run game as well.

      • Blake

        Ya the Kiper v McShay argument is a tough one. I’d rather listen to McShay, but- like any other draft expert- both have had a decent amount of obvious wiffs. McShay thought Sanchez was better than Stafford while Kiper thought Clausen was a top 10 prospect. Obviously it is tough to tell at this moment, but it looks like Stafford is far superior when healthy, and Clausen looks to be a middling QB. Kiper and McShay have a lot of differences in their rankings this year. More than usual I think. Julio Jones is about 10 slots different, Jenkins is about 15, the quarterbacks are completely different, and Paea is atleast a round different.

        Mayock was the only guy who thought ET was better than Berry. Seems he was right. Ballsy moves like that get a draft expert a lot of respect. Rob, if Janoris Jenkins ends up being awesome, he could be your claim to fame.

        • Rob

          I was down on Berry as a top-ten pick for most of the year. I had Thomas ahead – acknowledging that tackling was an issue but that his fluidity and big play ability had great value.

  3. IVan

    Like bill walsh said…. “the most important thing in a Quarterback are his athletic instincts” it might take a while for Moore to get his chance but i think he is going to make it.

    • Matt

      At some point though, you just have to have enough tools to succeed.

      A baseball pitcher can be the smartest and have the greatest control (accuracy) in the world, but if his fastball tops out at 80 MPH, chances are he will not be successful in Major League Baseball because he is going up against the best athletes in the world everyday, not Fresno State.

      I really like Moore, but you can’t be that small and have limited mobility while also having a below average arm. At some point, it really doesn’t matter how “smart” he is, you have to physically be able to keep up with the big boys and right now, the odds are very much against him.

      There’s a reason that the NFL holds the Combine and values physical attributes. It just boils down to a player having the physical ability to keep up with other premiere athletes. If such attributes were not important, you wouldn’t have the Combine and you wouldn’t hear teams/Front Offices valuing the importance of size and speed. It’s kind of like Carroll and Schneider wanting big CBs. Now, I’m not saying you can’t be successful if you aren’t the biggest and fastest, but it’s significantly harder to win a race if you start 1 lap behind every one else.

    • Rob

      I disagree Ivan. I can’t even see him getting the chance to be honest. There isn’t a single reason for me to believe he’s going to be drafted.

  4. Matt Q.

    Ahhhh, is this blog in the Northwest, I posted a comment at like 9 o-clock here and it said like 5 o-clock

    • Matt Q.

      9 in the morning

    • Rob

      I’m based in the UK at the moment meaning an eight hour time difference. I’ll try and adjust the times and dates to match the NW.

  5. Matt Q.

    Do you think the hawks could go with Tyron Smith?

    • Rob

      Highly unlikely – they have their left tackle in Okung. I can’t see them drafting another tackle in round one and they might have to trade up for Smith anyway.

      • Blake

        Ya Smith is what 290? He looks like a fat TE. He makes no sense on our team, but is a pretty solid prospect if he can put on 15 pounds without giving up quickness or stamina.

  6. Blake

    Real solid analysis in this article. I’d argue that Andrews has been our biggest liability up front. For such a large man-340 ish- he has the worst anchor I have ever seen. He also cannot bend his knees and hit a moving target, whether it be a plastic bag floating in the wind or a weakside linebacker trying to make a play.

    In retrospect, our front office has drafted well but made some terrible mistakes in the trading process. Rob Sims was our best offensive lineman by a mile last year. We traded him for a nickel on the dollar due to our new zbs, but now that we seem to be back in a power scheme we could sure use him. It’s very sad. Whitehurst also was seemingly a poor move. I hated it from the get-go, but I also felt that there was a great chance he would start a few times this year which excited me. The fact that Matt was named the starter so early in the week shows how terrible Whitehurst must be doing in practice. Carroll has zero confidence in him saying he did, “OK,” last week as Matt’s replacement.

    Speaking of the Whitehurst trade, does anyone know why Golden Tate is being held out of games? Is it still his route running or is attitude a problem now? It bothers me that a team defunct of playmakers refuses to put one on the field. There is no excuse not to throw him a few swings and screens each game. Hell give him a few carries out of the wildcat like the Vikings do for Harvin.

    • Rob

      Tate’s just struggling badly and it’s not a total shock either. There was a concern about whether he could get seperation. He was a big YAC guy at ND and ran very simple routes. Seattle hasn’t done a good enough job acknowledging this and designing plays just to get the ball in his hands.

  7. Blake

    Just got done reading Kiper’s chat. Interesting thing he had to say about Clausen. More interesting was how bad a few HOF QBs have done in their rookie years. I know Clausen was off the Hawks draft board, so this isn’t necessariliy in reference to trading for him should he be available, this is just a conversation piece.

    That would be hard to do. I’m a big Clausen guy. I like what I’ve seen from him. I thought he showed well in the second half of the Cincinnati game. There were periods in the New Orleans game he looked good. Over the last 5-6 weeks, there have been games he’s been good. But I don’t think he’s been 100%. At times he’s looked heavy legged this year. The foot and toe injuries I think have prevented him from getting around the pocket like we saw at Notre Dame. I’ve seen LBs tackle him. He has to escape better and get back some of that quickness. He’s completing 52.7% of his passes and has 2 TDs and 7 INTs. John Elway in his rookie year completed less than 50 percent of his passes with 7 TDs, 14INTS. Dan Fouts 44.8 percent, 6 TD, 13INTS. Simms, 50.6, 13-14. Peyton Manning 56.7 with 28 INTs. When you start scrutinizing rookie QBs…plus Clausen has no WRs that were highly regarded coming out of college. It’s been a bad situation. The head coach wasn’t coming back. It was a bad situation and Clausen has had his struggles. He has had flashes. The mobility will be better next year. Can they pass on Andrew Luck? It will be very hard to pass on him. There will be a new head coach coming in and Jimmy will be an inherited QB and inherited QBs don’t normally fair well.

    • Rob

      Kiper was always high on Clausen and had him as a top ten pick. I never saw it personally and wrote about it often. I don’t ever see him being a long term starter in the NFL.

      • Alex

        agreed. I didn’t want the Seahawks to do anything with Clausen. Throws balls up for grab. Overrated accuracy. Below average arm strength (look at the LONG windup). Not the most mature person. I was one constantly against him last year.


  8. John Thomas

    Given PC’s like of tall, mobile QBs with big arms, who do you see the Hawks being potentially interested in QB-wise later 1st round or in round 2, figuring that they won’t get a shot at Luck? Merry Christmas from Ephrata WA!

  9. jeff


    Your evaluation of Moore will be different by the time he is drafted next year. I think he will prove himself again as being one most accuate passers in the history of college ball. This year, 71% comp, qb rating, 185, yds per catch,10.1. All are top in ncaa. I know he doesn’t run well, but in the pocket he moves very well feeling pressure. Sounds a little like Joe Montanna. I don,t think there has been 10 like him let alone hundreds. Think west coast offense.

    • Rob

      I disagree Jeff and I’ve seen enough tape of Moore now to be firmly comfortable in my assesment. Simply put – he has no future in the NFL. He’s the focal point of a rythm offense, but one which is designed to give him great stats. Whilst I don’t ignore a 71% completion rate off hand, I also appreciate that it’s slightly misleading. We saw against Utah how bad he can look under pressure (something he simply does not receive at Boise State). When his timing is thrown off course, he struggles with accuracy. Physically he’s nowhere close to being draftable as a 5’11”, 185lbs quarterback with a weak arm. He barely feels any presure to avoid… but as a runner – to quote his own coach – he looks ‘awkward’. Nothing else about Moore makes me believe he can ever get over those major issues. He gets a very good press because of his situation at Boise State. For me, he’s not even close to being a pro-prospect.

  10. James Hystad

    I find myself amazed at someone that probably thinks pretty highly of their football knowledge and makes comments like “Kellen Moore is a good college quarterback but won’t make it in the pros and will be a walk on free agent”. You get no respect from me because you clearly don’t have a clue. Kellen Moore is probably the best quarterback in the 2010 and 2011 quarterback class. He has been picked as the Sporting News #1 college football player for 2010-2011 season. Ask Tyrone Willingham if he would still pass up on Kellen Moore now and after the University of Washington told Moore he is too small for a Pac-10 QB. I guess that makes the Oregon Ducks “Bush league” then because Kellen Moore looked like a man against boys in 2008 and 2009. I would like to know of any other college team to beat Oregon two years in a row. I’ll save you the research, nobody, accept Kellen Moore and the Boise State Broncos. I’m not an Oregon Ducks fan but give them props for being dominate and clearly a college football powerhouse for most likely a long time. There are pro offensive coordinators that feel the same about Kellen Moore. Was Kellen Moore a great highschool quarterback, which still holds the records in Washington State mind you, but destined to be a “Flop” in college? If you have to think about it, find a new sport other than football because clearly it doesn’t agree with you. Go!!!!!Kellen Moore keep letting them overlook you and diminish your obviously bright future. Remember people, Drew Brees, you might have heard of him, well he just won the Superbowl two years ago and he is 6.0ft tall and 190 lbs, but clearly he is to small to make it in the pros, I can’t believe he was even drafted, lol…

    • Rob

      Not quite sure why you feel the need to get personal about this. Disagreeing on prospects is all part of the process and that’s something you have to deal with.

      The talk about high school to college is clearly irrelevant. The transition is not even in the same universe compared to the transition from college to NFL. People love to bring out the Drew Brees example to justify why small, physically weaker QB’s can succeed in the NFL. Let’s get the facts straight here – Brees at 6-0 is the major exception, not the rule. He is listed at 209lbs, not 190lbs – that’s 22lbs heavier than Moore is listed (187lbs) by ESPN’s player card.

      Clearly you’re a Kellen Moore fan, so I understand why you want to defend your guy. I am not a fan of any college team and therefore have no favoritism. I judge players based on lengthy study of game tape. I don’t get every decision right, but nobody does. Moore wouldn’t just be battling the odds to be the first left handed 187lbs NFL quarterback, he’s be the greatest story in NFL history if he went on to start at that size. Like your Graham Harrell’s of yester-year, he’s destined to be an ultra productive college quarterback and unfortunately nothing more.

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