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4eb9e18e3f08b.imageMy hiatus has been so long that I feel as if I started writing this article a month ago. Oh, wait, I did. Anyway, this piece (about the WR I think is the most undervalued in the 2013 class) has been put off for so long that it now feels almost obsolete. Still, the guy I have dubbed “Marshall Colston” deserves some press.

Here I want to make a case for Texas Tech’s Darrin Moore as the most undervalued WR in the 2013 Draft. I’ve written a similarly themed article about one of my favorite 2013 rookie RBs, and as much as I like that guy I may like Moore a little bit . . . more. (I’m killing it.) I understand a certain irony exists in championing a guy as the most underrated in the draft when he went UNDRAFTED, but I still think he possesses value—if he can ever stick on a roster. He attended the Cowboys minicamp on a tryout basis—and he reportedly quit after one day of practices. On Twitter the day after leaving minicamp he said, “All good things come to an end,” implying that he now plans to retire.

Despite this unfortunate development, I still think he deserves some RotoViz space. (And by “he,” I now mean the research I did a month ago.) If Moore decides to pursue the NFL, I believe he has undeniable upside. He could be a solid WR2 for years. (Just like Marques Colston.) In fact, he strikes me as a mixture of Colston and Brandon Marshall—a big receiver, weighing over 220 lbs, who can play outside or in the slot and win matchups with his size. Although Jon Moore (no relation, I’m sure) has written positively about the big WR here and mentioned his ability to come through in the clutch as well as his red zone prowess, I imagine that some of the other RotoViz writers will not view Moore favorably because of his low market share. Nevertheless, as I did with Cordarrelle Patterson here and here, in talking about Moore I will suggest that—market share aside—his weight, height, receiving yards, and receiving TDs (when considered with certain efficiency stats) are enough to warrant his consideration as a legitimate prospect . . . again, if he can actually make an NFL roster.

In short, the case for Darrin Moore is this: Given his weight and raw statistics from his final college season, he joins an (almost) elite list of FBS WRs—Larry Fitzgerald, Calvin Johnson, Dez Bryant, Plaxico Burress, Brandon Marshall, Michael Floyd, and Mike Williams (USC) . . . and, fine, Dwight Jones, a.k.a. “The Original Darrin Moore,” the undrafted WR from North Carolina who retired from football in 2012 before reaching even his first training camp. As far as I can find, these are the only FBS WRs to enter the NFL weighing at least 220 lbs. and having at least 1000 receiving yards and 10 all-purpose TDs in their last college season. (According to NFL Draft Scout, Danario Alexander, David Boston, Javon Walker, James Hardy, and other big WRs were under 220 lbs. when they entered the league.) Moore’s inclusion in this group does not mean that he will have NFL success, but it does suggest that he could be either Dwight Jones or Brandon Marshall and perhaps, most realistically, something akin to Michael Floyd (their raw numbers are quite similar). For a guy who wasn’t even a priority undrafted free agent, those possible outcomes collectively present an acceptable risk with desirable value and potential should he latch onto a roster. No other rookie WR available on waivers has as high an upside as Moore.

I will grant that significant differences exist between Moore and the other players in the elite cohort of large and productive FBS WRs. Here’s the table, arranged in descending order by receiving yards. Note that in my calculation of market share I have not included the stats from the first game of Moore’s senior season, a game against a non-FBS opponent in which Moore did not play. Also, note that, for the calculations, I consider Dwight Jones to have been drafted in “Round 8” with “Pick 254,” the hypothetical pick after the last pick of his draft. (This information is provided by Pro Football Reference, Sports Reference, and NFL Draft Scout.)

Name Last FBS Year Age Round Pick Ht Wt 40 Time Rec ReYds ReAvg ReTDs MSYds MSTDs TotMS
Larry Fitzgerald 2003 20 1 3 75 225 4.48 92 1672 18.2 22 44.6 57.9 51.2
Dez Bryant 2008 21 1 24 74 224 4.52 87 1480 17 19 47 76 61.5
Mike Williams (USC) 2003 20 1 10 77 229 4.56 95 1314 13.8 16 35.0 42.11 38.5
Calvin Johnson 2006 21 1 2 77 239 4.35 76 1202 15.8 15 50.7 60 55.3
Plaxico Burress 1999 22 1 8 78 231 4.59 66 1142 17.3 12 43.0 48 45.5
Brandon Marshall 2005 21 4 119 77 229 4.52 74 1195 16.1 11 39.2 45.8 42.54
Dwight Jones 2011 22 8 254 75 230 4.55 85 1196 14.1 12 36.1 46.1 41.1
Michael Floyd 2011 22 1 13 75 220 4.47 100 1147 11.5 9 34.9 42.8 38.8
Avg NA 21.1 2.25 54.1 76 228.3 4.5 84.3 1293.5 15.4 14.5 41.3 52.3 46.8
Med NA 21 1 11.5 76 229 4.52 86 1199 15.9 13.5 41.15 47.0 44.0
Darrin Moore 2012 22 Undr Undr 76 225 4.61 92 1032 11.2 13 23.97 31.71 27.84

Moore, clearly, is the least attractive player on this list. In several ways he is the most similar to Dwight Jones, which does not speak well for his future. On average, he weighs 3 lbs. fewer, runs 0.1 seconds slower, and is one year older than the collective cohort. He has the fewest receiving yards and the lowest receiving average. He also has the lowest market share of receiving yards and TDs—by far. OK, what do you expect? We’re talking about a guy who was just hoping to get drafted. If he were much better in any of these categories, he would’ve been chosen in the first three rounds. If he makes an NFL team and you decide to roster him, you will do so not because of his speed or Dominator Rating. You will be doing it because he is big, strong, and good enough of a possession receiver to be a usable fantasy WR, exactly like Marques Colston. He’s like 80% of Michael Floyd’s capability at a 99% discount.

Here’s one reason why Moore’s slight market share does not bother me. Within the context of his offense, Moore was extremely unlikely to garner a large share of his team’s receiving production. In its most ideal form, a Tommy Tuberville offense spreads the ball around and makes a point not to allow one receiver to dominate. In fact, in the years when Tuberville has had a dominant receiver by market share, that receiver dominated generally not because he was great but because the options after him were mediocre. With Eric Ward lined up across from Moore in 2012, the Texas Tech offense had no need to focus solely on either receiver, and so it didn’t. In fact, even with Ward recording 1053 receiving yards and 12 TDs, Moore still did better than the typical #1 Tuberville WR normally does, both by raw statistics and advanced metrics.

Name Season School Rec ReYds ReAvg ReTDs Touches ScrimYds Avg TDs MSYds MSTDs TotMS
LeMay Thomas 1995 Miss 56 801 14.3 3 56 801 14.3 3 32.95 21.43 27.19
Grant Heard 1996 Miss 21 291 13.9 2 21 291 13.9 2 15.4 25 20.2
Andre Rone 1997 Miss 36 513 14.3 3 36 513 14.3 3 19.04 25 22.02
Cory Peterson 1998 Miss 41 601 14.7 4 41 601 14.7 4 25.23 36.36 30.79
Ronney Daniels 1999 Auburn 56 1068 19.1 9 56 1068 19.1 9 42.84 47.37 45.10
Ronney Daniels 2000 Auburn 34 378 11.1 3 35 436 12.5 3 16.29 21.43 18.86
Tim Carter 2001 Auburn 35 570 16.3 3 42 598 14.2 3 16.54 27.27 21.90
Ben Obomanu 2002 Auburn 17 224 13.2 3 17 224 13.2 3 9.37 16.67 13.02
Jeris McIntyre 2003 Auburn 41 621 15.1 3 42 652 15.5 3 24.85 30 27.42
Courtney Taylor 2004 Auburn 43 737 17.1 6 46 793 17.2 6 23.88 24 23.94
Devin Aromashodu 2005 Auburn 26 494 19 4 26 494 19 4 19.08 21.05 20.065
Rodgeriqus Smith 2006 Auburn 26 452 17.4 4 26 452 17.4 4 20.13 28.57 24.35
Rodgeriqus Smith 2007 Auburn 52 705 13.6 5 52 705 13.6 5 30.43 41.67 36.05
Robert Dunn 2008 Auburn 18 193 10.7 2 21 192 9.1 2 9.73 28.57 19.15
Lyle Leong 2010 TTU 74 926 12.5 19 74 926 12.5 19 22.34 48.72 35.53
Eric Ward 2011 TTU 84 800 9.5 11 84 800 9.5 11 19.3 35.48 27.39
Avg NA NA 41.2 585.8 14.4 5.2 42.1 596.6 14.3 5.2 21.7 29.9 25.8
Med NA NA 38.5 585.5 14.3 3.5 41.5 599.5 14.25 3.5 19.7 27.9 24.1
Darrin Moore 2012 TTU 92 1032 11.2 13 92 1032 11.2 13 23.97 31.71 27.84

Granted, this list is not replete with overly impressive players. None of these Tuberville #1 WRs have had sustained NFL success—so why are we interested in Moore? What sets him apart from these other guys? None of these Tuberville WRs had Moore’s height and weight. Again, we like Moore because of his size, and, given the historical context of Tuberville’s offense, Moore’s failure to capture more market share isn’t really a red flag.

As I’ve already said, I don’t think his market share is the primary criterion by which Moore should be judged. Rather, he should be judged on his ability to produce yards and TDs as a big man. Here is a list of the 25 FBS WRs from 1978 to whom (as guys entering the league) Moore most closely compares.

Name Age Round Pick Ht Wt 40 Time Rec ReYds ReAvg ReTDs
Larry Fitzgerald 20 1 3 75 225 4.48 92 1672 18.2 22
Dez Bryant 21 1 24 74 224 4.52 87 1480 17 19
Mike Williams (USC) 20 1 10 77 229 4.56 95 1314 13.8 16
Calvin Johnson 21 1 2 77 239 4.35 76 1202 15.8 15
Plaxico Burress 22 1 8 78 231 4.59 66 1142 17.3 12
Brandon Marshall 21 4 119 77 229 4.52 74 1195 16.1 11
Dwight Jones 22 8 254 75 230 4.55 85 1196 14.1 12
Michael Floyd 22 1 13 75 220 4.47 100 1147 11.5 9
Andre Johnson 21 1 3 74 230 4.41 52 1092 21 9
Hank Baskett 23 8 256 75 224 4.5 67 1071 16 9
Demaryius Thomas 22 1 22 75 224 4.38 46 1154 25.1 8
Reggie Williams 20 1 9 76 225 4.62 89 1109 12.5 8
Julio Jones 21 1 6 75 220 4.34 78 1133 14.5 7
Dwayne Bowe 22 1 23 74 221 4.51 65 990 15.2 12
Kerry Meier 24 5 165 74 224 4.62 102 985 9.7 8
Juron Criner 22 5 168 75 224 4.66 75 956 12.7 11
Ron Johnson 21 4 123 75 225 4.7 56 895 16 9
Jonathan Baldwin 21 1 26 76 228 4.49 53 822 15.5 5
Malcolm Kelly 21 2 51 76 224 4.64 49 821 16.8 9
Greg Little 21 2 59 75 231 4.51 62 762 11.7 5
Patrick Turner 21 3 87 77 223 4.65 49 724 15.1 10
Josh Gordon 20 2 38 75 224 4.52 42 714 17 7
Kevin Walter 21 7 255 75 221 ??? 93 1368 14.7 9
James Jordan 23 8 262 74 225 ??? 109 1003 9.2 4
Maurice Purify 22 8 257 75 229 4.54 57 814 14.3 9
Avg 21.4 3.12 89.72 75.36 225.96 4.52 72.7 1070.4 15.2 10.2
Median 21 2 38 75 225 4.52 74 1092 15.2 9
Darrin Moore 22 Undr Undr 76 225 4.61 92 1032 11.2 13

Moore has the profile of a guy who, on average, gets drafted in the third round. He’s basically the undrafted mixture of Greg Little and Juron Criner but with better raw stats. That might not excite you, but when it’s available for nothing you don’t have much to lose. And although I haven’t provided the numbers here I have this little tidbit for you—the guys on this list who have market shares similar to Moore’s (basically, the guys who didn’t become NFL starters) don’t have his level of raw productivity. What does this fact mean to me? Moore may not be as good as the rest of the big guys in the 1000-10 club, but he’s a better prospect than a lot of the guys on this larger list.

While Moore has similarities to Marshall, Floyd, and Jones of the big FBS 1000-10 receiver club, the guy Moore actually reminds me of most is the non-FBS Marques Colston. Here’s a table comparing their last seasons in college.

Name Last FBS Year Age Round Pick Ht Wt 40 Time Rec ReYds ReAvg ReTDs Touches ScrimYds Avg TDs MSYds MSTDs TotMS
Marques Colston 2005 22 7 252 76 225 4.5 70 975 13.9 5 72 993 13.8 5 28.92 25 26.96
Darrin Moore 2012 22 Undr Undr 76 225 4.61 92 1032 11.2 13 92 1032 11.2 13 23.97 31.71 27.84

Almost identical in size, they were both NFL draft afterthoughts. Their market shares are quite close and both are barely above the 0.25 threshold Shawn Siegele considers to be draftable. Both were placed with teams having established QBs who can get the ball to big WRs in the middle of the field. And while Colston is faster than Moore, neither player especially relies on his speed; rather, both guys rely on their size to box out defenders and their route running to create separation. They are both essentially glorified TEs. Moore is simply a slower FBS Marques Colston. Moore might not stick on a roster, but if he does I think he could be substantially productive as early as his second year.

What makes me say this? Despite his low collegiate market share and receiving average, he was a guy on whom his team heavily leaned in 2012 when important yards and points were needed, and in those situations he showed a remarkable capacity to gets the necessary yardage and to put points on the board. Here’s information from RotoViz’s (excellent) College WR Stat Filter.

Against better than average defenses (with a DQ of at least 70), Moore received 118 targets, the most on his team. Of the other college receivers in 2012 to get that many targets, how does Moore compare? Pretty well.

Player Tm SEAS TRG YDS YPT PCT_YTG TDS TDRT
Stedman Bailey West Virginia 2012 136 1523 11.20 1.28 23 0.17
DeAndre Hopkins Clemson 2012 116 1172 10.10 1.16 12 0.10
Darrin Moore Texas Tech 2012 118 959 8.13 0.97 11 0.09
Marqise Lee USC 2012 152 1524 10.03 1.11 13 0.09
Tavon Austin West Virginia 2012 132 1234 9.35 1.09 11 0.08
Markus Wheaton Oregon State 2012 128 1121 8.76 1.01 10 0.08
Terrance Williams Baylor 2012 143 1748 12.22 1.39 10 0.07
Jordan Matthews Vanderbilt 2012 134 1269 9.47 1.01 8 0.06

Sorted by TD rate, Moore was just as good at turning his targets into points as was Marqise Lee and better than Austin, Wheaton, Williams, and underrated 2014 draft prospect Matthews. He was just a touch worse than first-rounder DeAndre Hopkins. His YPT% is the worst of the group, but it’s not egregious; in fact, it’s still pretty good. When the team threw him the ball on any particular down and distance, he got 97% of the needed yards on average.

And how did he do against these same quality defenses when he was target on 3rd and 4th downs? He did well. He was targeted 20 times. Here’s how he did at turning those targets into scores.

Player Tm SEAS TRG YDS YPT PCT_YTG TDS TDRT
Austin Seferian-Jenkins Washington 2012 21 222 10.57 1.26 4 0.19
Joseph Fauria UCLA 2012 27 230 8.52 0.92 5 0.19
Davante Adams Fresno State 2012 22 259 11.77 1.99 4 0.18
Justin Brown Oklahoma 2012 23 126 5.48 0.66 4 0.17
Kenny Stills Oklahoma 2012 23 213 9.26 1.44 4 0.17
Amari Cooper Alabama 2012 24 289 12.04 1.67 4 0.17
Robert Woods USC 2012 24 200 8.33 0.95 4 0.17
Bryan Underwood North Carolina State 2012 25 195 7.80 0.87 4 0.16
Austin Hill Arizona 2012 20 311 15.55 1.64 3 0.15
Darrin Moore Texas Tech 2012 20 214 10.70 1.93 3 0.15
Tyler Eifert Notre Dame 2012 28 164 5.86 0.91 4 0.14
Stedman Bailey West Virginia 2012 23 184 8.00 0.94 3 0.13
Tavon Austin West Virginia 2012 39 414 10.62 1.64 5 0.13
Allen Robinson Penn State 2012 32 246 7.69 0.95 4 0.12
Mike Evans Texas A& M 2012 26 242 9.31 1.49 3 0.12
Tobais Palmer North Carolina State 2012 26 285 10.96 1.48 3 0.12
Josh Boyce TCU 2012 35 348 9.94 1.32 4 0.11
Antavian Edison Purdue 2012 27 170 6.30 0.76 3 0.11
Jarvis Landry LSU 2012 27 159 5.89 1.01 3 0.11
Eric Ward Texas Tech 2012 29 311 10.72 1.31 3 0.10
Frankie Hammond, Jr. Florida 2012 20 216 10.80 1.39 2 0.10
Jaxon Shipley Texas 2012 20 173 8.65 1.12 2 0.10
Corey Fuller Virginia Tech 2012 32 366 11.44 1.24 3 0.09
Marcus Sales Syracuse 2012 32 255 7.97 1.04 3 0.09
Devante Davis UNLV 2012 22 187 8.50 1.26 2 0.09
Markus Wheaton Oregon State 2012 33 221 6.70 0.89 3 0.09
Quinton Patton Louisiana Tech 2012 22 117 5.32 0.79 2 0.09
Conner Vernon Duke 2012 34 234 6.88 1.10 3 0.09
DeAndre Hopkins Clemson 2012 34 378 11.12 1.29 3 0.09
Marquess Wilson Washington State 2012 23 230 10.00 1.16 2 0.09
Phillip Dorsett Miami (Florida) 2012 23 301 13.09 1.79 2 0.09

He did almost as well Robert Woods and 2013 stud Austin Hill. He did better than first-rounder Tyler Eifert. Better than Bailey, Austin, Wheaton, Patton, Hopkins, and more heralded sleeper Marquess Wilson.

But that’s just looking at TD Rate, which might not be the best way of looking at this, since the point of throwing the ball on 3rd and 4th down is not primarily to score a TD; it’s to keep the drive going. In the exact same situations, how was Moore at picking up first downs when his QB relied on him in clutch situations? He was better than good. He was historically good.

Player Tm SEAS TRG YDS YPT PCT_YTG TDS TDRT
Davante Adams Fresno State 2012 22 259 11.77 1.99 4 0.18
Darrin Moore Texas Tech 2012 20 214 10.70 1.93 3 0.15
Phillip Dorsett Miami (Florida) 2012 23 301 13.09 1.79 2 0.09
Amari Cooper Alabama 2012 24 289 12.04 1.67 4 0.17
Tavon Austin West Virginia 2012 39 414 10.62 1.64 5 0.13
Austin Hill Arizona 2012 20 311 15.55 1.64 3 0.15
Mike Shanahan Pittsburgh 2012 29 315 10.86 1.62 2 0.07
Cody Hoffman BYU 2012 40 400 10.00 1.51 1 0.03

In 2012 Moore was the second-best workhorse receiver in the country at turning third- and fourth-down targets into first downs against good defenses, just behind non-AQ stud Davante Adams. He was better than SEC darling Amari Cooper. Better than the top-ten Tavon Austin (but Austin’s solid 1.64 makes me respect him much more than I had before.) Moore’s place on this list is especially impressive considering how often these targets were quick screens at the line of scrimmage with Moore doing almost all of the legwork to get the first down with the ball already in his hands.

For every ten yards needed, Moore got a little over nineteen. That’s prolific. How good is it? Our RotoViz app with play-by-play data goes back to 2005. Where does Moore’s 2012 YPT% of 1.93 rank among WRs with at least 20 targets against good defenses on 3rd and 4th down? It’s the seventh best across that timeframe. Better than Justin Blackmon’s 1.87 in 2011 or Ryan Broyles’s 1.75 and Stedman Bailey’s 1.73 in the same year. Better than superstar sleeper Ryan Swope’s 1.62 in 2011. Better than Keenan Allen’s 1.51 in 2011. Better than Marquess Wilson’s 1.69 in 2010 or Torrey Smith’s 1.60. Better than A.J. Green’s 1.79 in 2009 or Demaryius Thomas’ 1.74. Should I even mention that it’s better than Jeremy Maclin’s 1.77 in 2008 or Hakeem Nicks’s 1.53? Will I ruin your opinion of last year’s TD leader, James Jones, when I tell you that he record only a 1.57 in 2006? Will I commit fantasy sacrilege by pointing out that Calvin Johnson’s YPT% was only 1.56?

Clearly, NFL teams don’t respect Moore the way that they respect these other WRs, but Moore has a skill that eventually all NFL teams crave from their receivers: The ability to turn third- and fourth-down passes into first downs. If Moore ever finds himself on an NFL roster, this skill should serve him well.

While I have you here, let me continue to blow your mind a little longer. Against these same quality defenses, how did Moore do on 3rd and 4th downs in the red zone? Moore received 6 targets, and he turned 3 into TDs. Of all the receivers in college football to receive at least 6 similar targets against quality defenses, no one did better than his 50% TD Rate—and the one guy who matched it drastically lagged in YTG%. And how was Moore’s YTG%? It was 1.54—second best. Moore bested Justin Hunter, Markus Wheaton, Quinton Patton, Terrance Williams, Kenny Stills, and Tyler Eifert with both these marks. And how do these numbers rank since 2005? Only 4 scores are higher than Moore’s 0.50 TD Rate, and only three players surpass his YTG% of 1.54. When one combines the two criteria, Moore produces the second-best score across the timeframe. This dude’s not Calvin Johnson, but he’s a strong possession receiver who can get first downs and TDs. That’s not bad for a guy having problems making an NFL roster.

And, really, to this point I’ve downplayed Moore’s ability to operate in tight spaces, especially when it comes to scoring TDs. In 2012 Moore dominated. Against defenses with a DQ of 70, Moore recorded 24 targets in the red zone as a senior. Of the players to receive at least that many targets since 2005, Moore has the best TD Rate. See for yourself.

Player Tm SEAS TRG YDS YPT PCT_YTG TDS TDRT
Darrin Moore Texas Tech 2012 24 123 5.12 0.86 9 0.38
Michael Crabtree Texas Tech 2008 30 94 3.13 0.49 11 0.37
Ryan Broyles Oklahoma 2010 25 136 5.44 0.70 9 0.36
Michael Crabtree Texas Tech 2007 28 98 3.50 0.53 10 0.36
Justin Blackmon Oklahoma State 2011 35 203 5.80 0.99 12 0.34
Jeff Samardzija Notre Dame 2006 24 66 2.75 0.36 7 0.29
Robert Woods USC 2011 31 122 3.94 0.59 9 0.29
Dwayne Jarrett USC 2006 27 79 2.93 0.37 7 0.26
Kenny Stills Oklahoma 2012 25 127 5.08 0.67 6 0.24

Moore was more efficient at producing TDs in the red zone than some of the best TD scorers in FBS football since 2005. Is there really not a place for him in the NFL? And what about his YPT%?

Player Tm SEAS TRG YDS YPT PCT_YTG TDS TDRT
Justin Blackmon Oklahoma State 2011 35 203 5.80 0.99 12 0.34
Darrin Moore Texas Tech 2012 24 123 5.12 0.86 9 0.38
Ryan Broyles Oklahoma 2010 25 136 5.44 0.70 9 0.36
Kenny Stills Oklahoma 2012 25 127 5.08 0.67 6 0.24
Robert Woods USC 2011 31 122 3.94 0.59 9 0.29
Michael Crabtree Texas Tech 2007 28 98 3.50 0.53 10 0.36
Michael Crabtree Texas Tech 2008 30 94 3.13 0.49 11 0.37
Dwayne Jarrett USC 2006 27 79 2.93 0.37 7 0.26
Jeff Samardzija Notre Dame 2006 24 66 2.75 0.36 7 0.29

Yep, he was second best, behind only Blackmon. In other words, as a senior Moore exhibited perhaps the best red-zone efficiency of any receiver with his number of targets since 2005. I’m not really sure what excites you, but as far as fantasy goes that red zone prowess, especially when accompanied by a receiver of that size, gets me a smidgen hot and bothered.

Realistically, Moore is unlikely to do anything in the NFL. But if—IF!—he can reverse course and make a roster, he has the size and the skills to be the next Marques Colston. Till then, though, he’s basically the next Dwight Jones.

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