Don Markus The Baltimore Sun
Cookie Ridley can relate to what reporters who’ve covered the youngest of her three children experienced during DJ Moore’s three years at Maryland. No matter what Moore did, including a record-setting 2017 season, he made barely a peep.
“He’s not a big talker,” Ridley said recently. “That’s always been him.”
In that way, Moore is an anomaly for the position he plays, and what he accomplished as a Terp. It’s Moore’s feet and hands — not his mouth — that led to where he finds himself as the 2018 NFL draft approaches.
Considered by most to be a second- or even third-round pick after catching a single-season school-record 80 passes and being named the Big Ten’s top receiver as a junior, Moore will likely be a first-round choice when the draft begins Thursday night.
Moore could become the first Maryland player drafted in the opening round since wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey (McDonogh) was picked seventh overall by the Oakland Raiders in 2009. Moore is expected to be among several players with local connections drafted.
After initially being told by the NFL college advisory committee to return to College Park for his senior year, Moore saw his stock rise dramatically at the league’s scouting combine last month in Indianapolis and appears to still be rising after private team workouts.
Albie Crosby, who coached Moore his last three years at Imhotep Institute Charter High in Philadelphia, isn’t surprised.
“If he thinks you’re doubting him, he loves to prove you wrong,” Crosby said last week.
Moore’s 40-yard dash time in Indianapolis of 4.43 seconds was faster than the 4.46 of former Terp and current Minnesota Viking Stefon Diggs. Moore’s 11-foot broad jump ranked him first among receivers, and his 39.5-inch vertical leap placed him second. The 210-pound Moore even measured an inch taller — at 6 feet — than he did at Maryland.
After choosing to just catch passes on Maryland’s pro day in late March, Moore said: “The tape speaks for itself right now. Just coming out here and going through the private workouts, just showing them that I work hard. People can tell that I work hard, but they actually can go to see it.”
That has always been the way Moore approached the game.
“Everything is extremely businesslike,” Crosby said. “I think people respect him that much more
Yet Crosby thought that might have hurt Moore during the recruiting process in high school. College coaches would tell Crosby they liked Moore, but always seemed to back off at the last minute. West Virginia and Duke were among the schools that lost interest.
Crosby once brought 15 of his players to a 7-on-7 camp in northern New Jersey. Rutgers offered 11 of Moore’s teammates, but not Moore. Penn State was interested in Moore as a defensive back, not as a wide receiver.
“People say they don’t want the flashy kid, the selfish kid, but I think at times they want that kid,” Crosby said. “The kid that’s not flashy, the kid that’s not selfish is the kid that gets overlooked.”
Finally after receiving offers from Temple and Maryland, Moore chose the Terps because of the relationship he had built with former recruiting coordinator John Dunn and then-wide receivers coach Keenan McCardell.
Considering that McCardell is now in the same position with the Jacksonville Jaguars, who pick No. 29, Crosby said, “I don’t think he’ll get out of the first round.”
There now seems to be a consensus that Moore will go in the opening round — the only question remaining is how high.
Mike Mayock of the NFL Network listed Moore on Friday as the top receiver in the draft, ahead of Alabama’s Calvin Ridley. Teams selecting ahead of the Jaguars appear to be interested, too. Crosby has heard from several teams, including the Ravens, who pick No. 16.
“DJ is a productive player; he’s a good player,” Ravens director of college scouting Joe Hortiz said recently.