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Denarius Moore – Elite Potential

Why am I so high on a guy drafted on Day 3 of the draft coming off a year with only 33 receptions, 618 yards, and six touchdowns? I must be crazy, right? He had a very strong preseason only to run into injury problems. Iffy quarterback play didn’t help either. Then he got healthy and Carson Palmer came to town. His big-play ability caught the eye of Palmer and showed up in the stats as he scored at least 10 fantasy points in four of his last six games. Palmer was quoted saying that Moore had elite ability and the potential to be a special player. Those are some high praises coming from a guy that played with stars like Chad Johnson (or is it Ochocinco?) and T.J. Houshmandzadeh while in Cincinnati.

At 6-foot, 190 pounds with a very impressive combine on his resume, there is every reason that, physically, Moore has the attributes needed to be a star wide receiver. He was held back in school by a program in flux at Tennessee and was widely regarded as ‘raw’ when coming into the league. Many speculated he would not develop for at least a couple of years, which explained why he fell all the way to the fifth round of the 2011 NFL Draft. Those doubters would be proven wrong quickly in Oakland Raiders camp as Moore jumped off the page at the coaching staff.

On a team that’s been searching for a star wide receiver for years, especially as they go through a transition period after Al Davis’ death, Moore is precisely what the doctor ordered. Davis holdovers Jacoby Ford and Darrius Heyward-Bey have shown time-and-time again that they simply do not have the ability to be a consistent threat on the outside. They’re good for flashy plays here and there, but do not possess the skills necessary to be a primary threat. As their rookie contracts come to a close, the Raiders staff will give Moore every opportunity to earn the primary receiver role in 2012. Ford and Heyward-Bey will still have a role, but this new regime has no ties to them and showed as much in the drafting of a perfect complimentary wide receiver in Juron Criner.

I’m not one to rely on extrapolating statistics and draw that up as my expectations for the coming year, but I will use them as a reference point. Prorating his final six games of 2011 to a full slate nets 1,000 yards and eight touchdowns. Given his rawness entering the league and the shortened offseason in 2011, there’s reason to believe he will exceed those projections. He is being drafted as the 30th wide receiver off the board in early drafts, which is six spots lower than I have him ranked. He’s flirting with my Top 20 in dynasty. This will be your last chance to get him outside of the Top 50 for a very long time.

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