There’s a Chris Moore hype-train coming through Baltimore, and I for one, am not on it.
Many folks look at the Ravens current roster, still in its infancy of training camp, with the belief that there are but 4 receiver locks right now in Willie Snead, Hollywood Brown, Miles Boykin and Chris Moore.
For me, not only is the latter not a lock to start for the Ravens, but I’m not 100% sold that Chris Moore is a roster lock.
I feel the need to caveat, as this will surely be spun into something it’s not: this isn’t to say I think Moore is a bad player by any means, or that he doesn’t carry specific value to the team. I simply believe the direction of the team coupled with the player that Moore has shown us to be, may not be a marriage that results in a locked down spot on the 53-man roster.
Let me explain.
Quick stat line for Chris Moore: In 3 years over 44 games (4 starts), Moore has 44 receptions, 490 yards, 4 TDs and a 55.9% catch rate. On Special Teams, Moore has corralled 42 kick returns for 999 yards, averaging 23.8 yards per return, and has never found the end zone.
I’ll start with the offensive numbers, where nothing about those stats scream ‘lock’ to me. I fully expect the argument to arise that Moore has been deprived the opportunities over his 3 years in the Ravens organization, making it hard to get a true look at his potential. While I can see the justification, isn’t it also possible that Moore was simply unable to develop to a point where the coaches believed he earned those snaps?
Take a look at a recent quote from John Harbaugh during the offseason, when Harbs was asked if Moore was ready for a bigger role in the offense.
“That’s the expectation. It’s up to the player to make a move and do something about it. But I would say Chris is ready to do that and has been ready to do that.”
Everyone takes away, “Oh man! He’s going to have a breakout year!”
I take away that Moore is expected to improve his game in Year 4, to a level where he should be able to expand his offensive role, and up until now, he hasn’t played at the level where they felt he was ready for such an expanded role. Nowhere in that context can I extract that he’s locked into his roster spot; merely that coaches are expecting a jump in his play, which would result in more snaps.
But here’s the thing — he’s still in a position that he needs to compete for his job.
Many folks thought Moore would be a de facto starter outside, given Harbs’ love of veteran receivers over rookies, and his only ‘true’ competition being an old, plodding Michael Floyd. The Ravens did sign veteran Seth Roberts, but Roberts has been the go-to slot receiver in Oakland for the duration of his career, which wouldn’t directly effect Moore’s role.
And then camp kicked off.
It’s only been 2 days thus far, but Seth Roberts has been playing outside competing with Moore for snaps, while rookie Miles Boykin has also been working with the first team at the X receiver position.
A rookie and a slot receiver unexpectedly competing with Moore for snaps- and from what I’ve seen thus far? Boykin and Roberts are shining bright. Not to say Moore has been bad- he’s been just fine- but his play hasn’t stood out like his competition in the early stages of camp.
If Chris Moore cannot secure a starting gig for the 4th year in a row, do they keep him as depth strictly for special teams purposes? After all, Moore is still a great gunner and the Ravens go-to Kick Returner, so he must be a lock!
I’m not sold on that either.
For me, it’s about the endgame more than the short term. Should Moore be viewed by the coaches as their WR4-6 (assuming they keep 6 wideouts), they have to make a decision- is Moore that good on Special Teams that the Ravens cannot afford to lose him? Or is he replaceable on ST, and they’d prefer to keep a younger kid like Antoine Wesley or Jaleel Scott with longer team control and potential for growth?
I’ll leave you on this note- I see Chris Moore as Jacoby Jones Lite.
Jacoby was a special teams ace — no question there; however, on offense he was a WR3 at best in years where he had to beat out the likes of Tandon Doss or David Reed, but WR4/5 when the likes of Marlon Brown and Kamar Aiken came to town- and they weren’t even that great.
In Moore, you have a receiver with lesser stats over the same 3-year stretch (44/490/4 for Moore versus 76/992/3 for Jones) and nowhere near the level of Jacoby in the return game (Jacoby contributed on PR/KR while Moore is strictly KR).
Is that enough to justify a roster lock on a team with high ceiling rookies and proven vets nipping at his heels? Is it not possible for the Ravens to find a new Kick Returner and Gunner in the next 4 weeks of camp that can match or exceed what Moore provides there?
I’m not so sure that lock is secured just yet.