It was hardly a surprise when the Carolina Panthers took a wide receiver with the No. 24 overall pick in the 2018 draft. The Panthers are coming off a season in which management decided to trade their number one receiver option Kelvin Benjamin at the trade deadline to Buffalo. Add that to the fact that last year’s second round draft pick Curtis Samuel and three other receivers were sent to injured reserved list, and Panther’s quarterback Cam Newton was forced to be throwing to practice squad players like Brendan Bersin.
Although it was a surprise the Panthers passed on Alabama’s Calvin Ridley, they revamped their offense, drafting Maryland wide receiver D.J. Moore as the first wide receiver taken off the draft board. Being in Carolina, Moore at 6’0, 215 pounds has already been drawing comparisons to Panthers all-time great Steve Smith. And for good reason. Steve Smith said it himself “They’ve never been able to replace me…until now.”
Moore finished his final collegiate season with 80 catches for 1,033 yards and eight touchdowns. But even still, he has some big shoes to fill if he wants to be compared to the Panthers all-time leader in yards, receptions, and touchdowns. Nevertheless, Moore has the tools to do so. Coming out of Maryland, he has the aggressiveness and ability to run after the catch similar to Smith. Although, unlike Smith, Moore is not an aggressive trash talker or seem to have any off the field issues, at least not yet. “I flip the switch, but I don’t talk. I let my play do the talking,” Moore said. Not only that, but the rookie will not wear the future Hall of Famers No. 89 jersey number, instead he will wear No. 12.
The rookie will likely line up in the slot position to start the season with Devin Funches and newly acquired Torrey Smith manning the outside spots. Although, that could change as Moore’s versatility could allow him to see targets on the outside spots just like Steve Smith did when he was a rookie and started just off as a special teams return man.
Though Moore did not directly compare his game to Steve Smith, he did give two names in which he thinks his game resembles- Jarvis Landry and Percy Harvin, two incredible slot receivers will great ability to run after the catch. “They both play with aggressiveness and (getting) yards after the catch is something that they do best,” Moore said.
Even though Moore was the first wide receiver taken off the draft board, that doesn’t mean he’s a complete player. Remember he’s only a rookie, and that being said he has some things he’s needs to work on. Specifically, being able to separate from press coverage and being a more refined route runner in general. Either way, Moore is young and talented and has time to work on those weaknesses. And the Panthers sure hopes he able to, that way the Panthers might have truly found their new No. 89.