Could Steelers view WR Elijah Moore as the next Antonio Brown?
By Tommy Jaggi
The Steelers had a Zoom meeting with Ole Miss receiver Elijah Moore. Here’s why he could be a longshot pick for Pittsburgh early in the NFL Draft.
The first time I put on Elijah Moore’s tape, I couldn’t shake the eerie resemblance between him and former Steelers star, Antonio Brown. I hate giving out these types of comparisons because I know that those expectations are never fair – even for a prospect as good as Moore. However, other than his lack of size (5’9 1/2” and 178 pounds) there are hardly any knocks on this kid’s game.
Moore started his collegiate career playing behind DK Metcalf and A.J. Brown, but as a 20-year-old in 2020, he lit the stage on fire in the SEC – the highest level of football in the nation. Moore effortlessly collected 86 receptions, 1,193 yards, and 8 touchdowns in just 8 games, according to Sports Reference. He had the second-most plays of 20+ yards in the nation behind only DeVonta Smith and his college dominator, market share, and breakout age are among the best we have seen from any wide receiver prospect to come out in recent years, according to PlayerProfiler.com.
While I wouldn’t go as far as to advocate that the Steelers should consider him with the 24th overall pick, I do wonder if he could be a potential fall-back plan if the player they like isn’t available to them when they are on the clock.
Why Steelers could consider Elijah Moore
Though wide receiver seems to be one of the deepest positions on the team and a complete luxury at this point in time, it’s important to consider the fact that Pittsburgh is going to want as many playmakers as possible in a rapidly closing Super Bowl window, and he’s a player Ben Roethlisberger would no doubt love.
Moore was the best receiver in the nation at creating separation on his routes last season and he wasn’t credited with a single drop. In addition, JuJu Smith-Schuster and James Washington are both unrestricted free agents next year, and we don’t know if Diontae Johnson will be able to bounce back from a poor performance in 2020.
There is a lot of belief that the Steelers are very interested in grabbing one of the top two running backs with the 24th pick in Najee Harris or Travis Etienne, but this certainly goes against draft trends, and Pittsburgh has taken just one first-round running back in the past 31 years (Rashard Mendenhall).
This team has always valued wide receivers more highly, and while it’s not as significant of a need, perhaps they have a very high grade on a player like Elijah Moore. Where this gets interesting is that the Steelers had a Zoom meeting with the talented, young receiver this offseason despite knowing that he is incredibly unlikely to be available to them in the second round.
In every facet of the game, Moore really does resemble Antonio Brown. Not every sub-six-foot receiver turns out to be a player that can dominate from the outside, but he’s got the skill set to be a force in the NFL who can win outside the hashes or in the slot. On top of that, Moore tested as a remarkably better athlete than Brown coming out of college and he already sells his routes like a savvy veteran.
Elijah Moore is a complete wildcard in this year’s NFL Draft, but his quick releases, flawless hands, and terrific ability after the catch may have the Steelers thinking that he could be the next Antonio Brown for their team (without the character issues, obviously). If they think of him this highly as a football player, perhaps he could be on their radar with the 24th overall pick, under the right circumstances.