Despite the wide receiver position being seen as one of the New England Patriots’ biggest needs entering the offseason, the team essentially stood pat in free agency. With the exception of running back/wideout hybrid Ty Montgomery’s two-year, $3.6 million contract, no player was added to the existing group.
Obviously, though, that does not mean the Patriots won’t address the position at one point this offseason. If they decide to do so, the draft presents the best opportunity. That is especially true given how deep this year’s wide receiver class is.
One of the better prospects who is expected to be available in New England’s range is Western Michigan wideout Skyy Moore. And as can be seen by taking a closer look at him, he checks a lot of the team’s favorite boxes.
Name: Skyy Moore
Position: Wide receiver
School: Western Michigan (Junior)
Opening day age: 22
2021 season: 12 games; 95 receptions, 1,292 yards, 10 touchdowns; 1 carry, 10 yards
Size: 5095, 195 lbs, 31 arm length, 10 1/4 hand size, 73 5/8, wingspan
Expected round: 2nd
Strengths: Of all his positive traits, the one that probably stands out the most about Moore is his elite agility: his movements are quick and sudden, and he combines tremendous footwork — he is hardly ever taking unnecessary steps — with some active hands to prevent getting pressed at the line of scrimmage. This skillset has helped him become a productive player at Western Michigan, and should help him adapt quickly to the next level.
Moore picks up a lot of his plays in the short/intermediate game and has the speed to create big plays off them. Savvy route runner that knows how to get open despite his smaller frame. pic.twitter.com/d54WHgQI3x— Ryan Spagnoli (@Ryan_Spags) February 24, 2022
Moore also has shown an ability to run various route concepts. His short-area agility makes him lethal on slant routes, but he also has shown that he can run fade routes and corners as well as any pivot or quick ins or out-cuts. Athletic skill alone is not the only reason why he has been productive on routes like these, though: Moore also has an advanced feel for finding soft coverage areas and out-leveraging opposing defenders.
Moore has some Julian Edelman to his game. Plays through contact well despite his smaller frame. Type of WR that can beat you at all levels. Explosive in and out of his breaks is super impressive for a MAC guy. pic.twitter.com/l19Ih6GEFf— Ryan Spagnoli (@Ryan_Spags) February 24, 2022
Moore is a dangerous player with the ball in his hands, and knows how to pick up yards after the catch. While not a true burner, he can run away from defenders in the short and intermediate parts of the field and keep moving the chains. He furthermore is not afraid to get his hands dirty as a blocker, or fight through contact to keep adding yards or making plays on the ball.
Weaknesses: Moore will likely best be used in the slot at the next level, lacking the size to threaten defenses from any outside alignments. He also remains a work in progress, joining Western Michigan with a background as a quarterback and on the defensive side of the ball; he is still learning on the job and investing in him is investing in his potential rather than a ready-made product.
As such, Moore needs to improve some of the nuances of playing the position. His hands are solid and NFL-caliber, but his catch radius and ability to plug passes out of the air from outside his frame are two of his biggest questions. He also needs to learn to attack the ball rather than wait for it to arrive.
Moore also is not the strongest player. While his contact balance makes up for a lot, he can be disrupted at the line of scrimmage if allowing opponents to get their hands on him. The same is true when it comes to his blocking: he can block but won’t consistently move people, especially those bigger than him, at the second level.
What would be his role? Moore projects primarily as a slot receiver at the next level, and would play that role in New England as well. That means that he would see the majority of his snaps inside the formation, as a rotational player alongside fellow interior receivers Kendrick Bourne and Jakobi Meyers. Whereas Bourne and Meyers are more Z receivers than traditional slot options, Moore is the latter and thus reminiscent of ex-Patriot Danny Amendola.
Does he have positional versatility? Moore projects unfavorably on the outside of the formation due to a lack of size and strength. Nonetheless, he offers some versatile element either in the return game — although he would have to gain more experience — or as a package-specific ball-carrier on sweeps, reverses or similar concepts.
Who is his competition? Moore would be a lock to make the Patriots’ roster based on his draft status, but he would compete for playing time against the team’s current interior receivers. Kendrick Bourne and Jakobi Meyers are locks and also, as noted above, offering a slightly different skillset. As far as the top slot role is concerned, Malcolm Perry is probably the closest competition.
Why the Patriots? While he showed some solid chemistry with multiple players in 2021, Mac Jones needs his go-to guy. Moore could become just that due to his ability to move the chains and get open in an instant. He can therefore serve as a safety blanket and a priority target on must-have plays such as third or fourth downs, something New England still lacks despite the promise shown by the Jones-Bourne and Jones-Meyers connections last year.
Why not the Patriots? New England is pretty well set when it comes to interior receivers, with Kendrick Bourne and Jakobi Meyers both capable options in this part of the field. Add tight ends Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith and there simply might not be a need for the Patriots to add another slot guy; if they go after a wideout early an X-receiver to replace N’Keal Harry and take over for Nelson Agholor in 2022 or 2023 would make more sense.
Verdict: The Patriots do not have a glaring need to add another slot receiver, but one does have to wonder what they will do if Moore is on the board when they are on the clock in the second round. His talent and upside is without question, after all, and Bill Belichick is a firm believer in “if you can play, we will find a role for you.” New England going after Moore even with him not directly addressing a major need would therefore not be a surprise.