By Ryan Leong
Denarius Moore, WR, #17
Weight: 190 lbs.
Hometown: Tatum, Texas
Experience: 2nd NFL season
Second-year wide receiver Denarius Moore is quickly becoming the go-to target for quarterback Carson Palmer and his production will be vital to the Oakland Raiders’ success in 2012.
In high school, he was a Prepstar All-American and twice named first-team all-state by the Texas Sportswriters Association as a kick returner. During his senior season, collected 32 receptions for 501 yards (15.6 avg.) and rushed 27 times for 200 yards. A multi-sport athlete, Moore competed in track and set the school record in the 110-meter hurdles (13.73 seconds) as a junior to win the Texas state championship. He was also the starting point guard on the basketball team and averaged 20.1 points per game.
Moore took his talents to Tennessee where he tied the school record playing in 52 career games. Of those 52 games, he started 20 of them, and had 112 receptions for 2,004 receiving yards, with 18 touchdowns. Among his individual highlights in his senior season, he had two 200-yard performances, 205 against Kentucky and 228 against South Carolina becoming the only NCAA FBS player to post two 200-yard receiving games in 2010.
The Raiders drafted Moore in the fifth round of the 2011 NFL Draft, as the 148th pick. He would make the 53-man squad as a rookie and had a breakout performance in his second career game at Buffalo, catching five passes for 146 yards including a 50-yard touchdown reception from then-quarterback Jason Campbell.
One of his strengths is his tremendous speed. Moore was clocked at 4.45 in the 40-yard dash at the 2011 NFL Combine. At 6 ft. and 190 lbs. he is also a bit undersized but that is also what makes him so quick.
Moore finished an outstanding rookie campaign, played in 13 games with 10 starts, totaling 33 receptions for 618 yards and five touchdowns.
This season, Moore’s responsibilities have only increased. In six games he has 26 receptions for 419 yards and four touchdowns. Three of those touchdowns have come in the last three weeks. This recent production is a welcome sign given that Moore was on the shelf for much of the preseason with a right-hamstring strain.
The experts know the unlimited potential for Moore. NFL.com’s Gregg Rosenthal said that Moore represents Oakland’s best prospect since drafting Tim Brown. Brown was one of the greatest wide receivers of his generation and has twice been a finalist for induction in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Equally as lofty is the praise coming from Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc., who he thinks Moore will be the best receiver in the division in three years. Williamson says Moore’s abilities will put him in the same kind of role that Greg Jennings has with the Green Bay Packers.
“I think he is just dripping with talent,” Williamson said. “He is already a big-time deep threat, who is very smooth and explosive with all of his movements. If/when he refines his game, and he doesn’t have a ton to do, I think he could have a similar career path as Jennings, but his quarterback situation obviously isn’t as strong.”
Although he’s not as young as Aaron Rodgers, Palmer is having his best season since 2007 and on pace to pass for 4,600 yards which would put him in select company, joining Rich Gannon as the only Raiders quarterbacks to pass for 4,600 yards. It’s a safe bet that many of those passing yards will continue to go in the direction of Moore.
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Ryan Leong has reported on over 2,800 games in the Bay Area since 1998, covering the Sharks, Giants, A’s, Warriors, 49ers, Raiders and the local college teams for radio networks and wire services. Having the best seat in the house to watch sports has been a thrill and Ryan still enjoys going to the games giving fans some insight and perspective on the players and coaches. His work can be found on Examiner.com.