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Glendale Rondale

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 28 Rutgers at Purdue Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images via Getty Images

When Rondale Moore was a true freshman at Purdue in 2018, he set the college football world on fire.

In his very first game versus Northwestern, Moore caught 11 passes for 109 yards and 1 TD. Not bad for a debut, right? Well, get this. Moore also ran the ball twice in this game for 79 yards (39.5 ave.). If you watched the game, it was as if Moore was shot out of Juggs gun like a 100 mile an hour whiffle ball. His display a sheer speed and elusiveness was breathtaking.

Having already taken full notice of Moore, as a BC alum and super fan, I was leery of BC having to face Moore in week 4 of that season. And sure enough, Moore did his part leading Purdue to their first win of the season, catching 8 passes for 110 yards and 2 TDs.

Then the coup de grace came three weeks later when Moore led the upstart Boilermakers to a stunning upset of Ohio St., catching 12 passes for 170 yards and 2 TDs, plus rushing twice for 24 yards. Feast your eyes on these plays:

What is very impressive about Rondale Moore is not only his blazing speed, but how difficult he is to tackle. He’s a battler who loves to break tackles and use his lack of height to rip under and through tackles. What’s also impressive is that for a player 5-7, 180, because of his 42” vertical, he has the catch radius of a WR several inches taller.

Moore won the 2018 Paul Hornung Award given to college football’s most “flexible” player.

The last two seasons for Moore, however, have been anti-climatic. He played merely 4 games in 2019 (29 catches for 389 yards and 2 TDs) and one fewer game in 2020 (35 catches for 270 yards and 0 TDs receiving, plus 6 carries for 32 yards and 1 TD rushing). In 2019, he was sidelined for 8 games due to a hamstring injury, and last season he suffered what what called “an unspecified lower body” injury.

Moore’s injury history and drop of production the past two seasons are what caused him to slide into the 2nd round despite reminding scouts at his pro day how explosive he is when he ran a 4.29 40, vertical jumped 42.5” and ran a blistering 6.65 3 cone. Plus —- for a 180 pound young man, his weightlifting feats have already caught the eye of J.J. Watt:

Wow!

After being drafted by the Cardinals and showered in confetti by his family and friends, Rondale sat for an interview with the Arizona media. To be honest, he appeared difficult to engage while offering terse, three second answers to the various questions. He did not don the kind of exuberance and excitement that a draftee typically displays. Perhaps he was simply trying to appear business-like and didn't want to come across as being overly carried away by the moment. Or maybe he is media shy and/or wary.

But at the end of the day, how Rondale Moore conducts himself in interviews doesn’t matter —- its what he is able to accomplish on the field and whether he can pull a D.K. Metcalf and dispel the questions about durability. Moore said he is going to take on whatever roles the coaches give him. Steve Keim and Kliff Kingsbury were already talking to Moore about being the “home run” kickoff and punt returner they have been lacking since Patrick Peterson was a rookie in 2011.

However, if Rondale Moore is going to give the Cardinals their most dynamic threat at kickoff and punt returner since Peterson’s rookie year, then he is going to have to improve on his pedestrian college stats in the return game at Purdue:

KO returns: 42, 813 yards, 19.4 ave,, 0 TDs

Punt returns: 17, 118 yards, 6.9 ave., 0 TDs.

Within the Cardinals’ offensive playbook, you just know that Kliff Kingsbury is already conceiving a myriad of ways in which he can get the ball in Rondale’s hands, which may even included some snaps at RB.

Last night on Twitter some Cardinals’ fans were rejoicing that drafting Rondale Moore could immediately lead to diminished roles, trades or roster cuts for the Cardinals 2018 and 2019 2nd round WR picks, Christian Kirk and Andy Isabella.

Before I offer my two cents on what Moore’s selection should mean to the Cardinals’ existing WR room, it may be important to point out that because of lack of player development and disappointing play from some key highly paid veterans, the Cardinals and Steve Keim have now drafted a linebacker in the 1st round in 4 of Keim’s 9 drafts (plus they drafted 2 LBs on Day 2) and Keim has drafted a WR on Day 2 in 5 of his 9 drafts.

The fact that Steve Keim is still using 1st round picks on linebackers and 2nd round picks on WRs is extremely frustrating. To add further to that frustration has been Keim’s conspicuous neglect of the TE position (1 2nd rounder and 3 7th rounders), only one Day 2 pick on a RB in 9 years (David Johnson) and, most alarming of all, only 3 CBs in 9 years (Brandon Williams, R3, 2016, Chris Campbell, R6, 2018 and Byron Murphy, R2 in 2019).

The tenor of the Cardinals’ off-season has been shaped by the team’s pinpointing of positions that required upgrades —- most particularly this far at C (Hudson), 34 DE (Watt), MIKE LB (Collins), LCB (Butler), K (Prater) and now speed WR/KR/PR (Moore).

Steve Keim was correct in identifying the team’s weakness at MIKE. Zaven Collins is much-needed upgrade (due, alas, to Jordan Hicks’ struggles). And Steve Keim was correct in identifying the lack of speed at WR (only Andy isabella on last year’s roster ran a sub 4.4), thus, if Rondale Moore can stay healthy and hungry, he is a superb addition.

But thinking that the WR speed should now only come from Rondale Moore, who has played in only 7 games the past two seasons due to injuries, is a mistake.

Rondale Moore is not Andy Isabella —- but, they are excellent compliments, in my opinion.

This analysis by Joseph Comeau is illuminating when it comes to comping Rondale Moore to Steve Smith. Comeau does a super job comparing Moore’s measurable with Isabella’s and Smith’s. But, Comeau’s claim that Andy Isabella’s troubles are linked to not being able to get off press overage in the NFL is false. Isabella is not some puny weakling. In fact, he had the Cardinals’ highest blocking grade at WR in 2020. Plus, if press coverage was ever a significant issue for Isabella (which it hasn’t been), the answer is easy —- run him in motion —- which Kliff Kingsbury does quite often with all of his “Z” receivers.

if you watch plays from the end zone angle, Andy Isabella, aside from DeAndre Hopkins, gains quicker separation (and gets open) off of his cuts than any other WR on the team. As I have stated numerous times, the problem last season was timing issues with Kyler Murray, who has yet to start hitting Isabella off of his breaks and has repeatedly under thrown Isabella on his “9” routes or thrown the ball too wide of the “9”.

But, having three speed burners to throw to in practice this year should get Kyler Murray quickly up to speed in terms of his rhythm and timing.

Timing issues are imminently fixable.

Therefore, to give up on Christian Kirk and/or Andy Isabella at this point would be a huge mistake. Many young NFL WRs don’t start hitting their stride until year three. Look at Nelson Agholor. Look at Curtis Samuel.

Hopefully the drafting of Rondale Moore lights a fire under Christian Kirk who was supposed to be the team’s #2 WR and big-time return man. Maybe Kirk has the kind of 4th year that Curtis Samuel had in Carolina last year.

Developing players often means not giving up on them too soon.

Remaining Needs

  • Obviously, the Cardinals still need to upgrade the CB room (particularly at slot CB, imo, where the Cardinals have struggled mightily in covering the likes of Tyler Lockett, Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp and Deebo Samuel and, in light of the fact that yesterday, the Seahawks added D’Wayne Eskridge and the Rams added Tutu Atlwell, perhaps as an immediate reaction and counter punch to the Cardinals adding Rondale Moore),
  • The vacant SAM OLB position (which hopefully a healthy Dennis Gardeck can fill).
  • TE void left by the departure of Dan Arnold.

Very excited that the Cardinals have added Glendale Rondale.

“4 Ever Moore.”

  • Enjoy the picks today, and stay thirsty my friends!