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2018 NFL Draft: Why Maryland receiver D.J. Moore could be the Falcons' first-round pick


(AP photo by Patrick Semansky)

Editor's note: This is the second of seven prospect profiles who the Falcons could select with the 26th overall pick in the first round.

Previous profiles: Vita Vea*

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – The Falcons have one of the league's most talented rosters, but there are a few positions that they may target with the No. 26 overall pick in the upcoming NFL Draft.


While defensive tackle is considered by many to be the most pressing need, there is a chance that a run on picks at the position in the first round could leave the Falcons exploring other options. If that scenario should play out, it wouldn't be a surprise to see Atlanta add one of the top receivers in the draft, giving them a strong contender for the No. 3 receiver spot.

Late in the first round, the Falcons should still have their pick of some of the best receivers in this class, including Maryland's D.J. Moore. Moore is currently rated as the second-best receiver in this class by ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr., who gave him pretty strong praise after the combine:

"As I wrote after the combine, Moore was the most impressive wide receiver in Indianapolis, putting up a 4.42 40 and 11-foot broad jump. He was a smooth pass-catcher in drills. And I think he's an impact punt returner on day one in the NFL. Don't be surprised if Moore is the first wide receiver selected in the first round, as some teams like him over Ridley. Moore had 80 catches for 1,033 yards and eight touchdowns last season."

Moore appears to check a number of boxes the Falcons are looking for in a third receiver. He is an explosive, fast receiver who has the ability to take a short pass and turn it into a big gain. His production increased each season at Maryland, as he went from catching 25 passes for 357 yards and three touchdowns as a freshman in 2015 to catching 80 passes for 1,033 yards and eight touchdowns as a junior last year.

And keep in mind that Moore racked up those receiving numbers with four different quarterbacks behind center for the Terrapins, including a walk-on in 2017.

On film, Moore's knack for making plays after the catch is apparent. Taylor Gabriel excelled at gaining yards on sweeps and screens, which Moore showed an aptitude for in college.

It isn't just a run-after-catch threat the Falcons are looking for, however. Finding a player who can stretch the field vertically and keep defenses honest will open up the Falcons' offense and allow them to have the explosive mentality they seek.

Moore lined up in a variety of places for Maryland, including both the slot out outside receiver positions. While he was certainly effective on screens and short passes, he did also beat defenders deep when battling one-on-one on the outside.

The last quality that Moore possesses which makes him an interesting option at receiver for the Falcons is his role as a returner. As a junior, Moore returned 15 kickoffs for 334 yards, an average of 22.3 yards per return. As a senior, Moore swapped his role on kickoff returns for a job handling punts, returning 15 punts for 153 yards, an average of 10.2 yards.

While not necessarily an electric returner, Moore would provide the Falcons another candidate to handle those roles after veteran return man Andre Roberts signed with the Jets during free agency.   Moore isn't the perfect receiver prospect at this point in his career, but he has a lot of good qualities that could fit what the Falcons are looking for. With a strong tandem already in place in Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu, the Falcons could put Moore in position to utilize his strengths and make an immediate impact while also improving his overall game.

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