Expect Cardinals’ Difference-Maker to Flash From the Jump

Getty Images Rondale Moore blows by a Cowboys defender in the preseason in 2021.

Other than Kyler Murray, the Arizona Cardinals haven’t drafted this special of an offensive prospect in a long time.

ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler talked to anonymous NFL scouts, coaches and executives about who can break out in 2021 and who will win awards this season. One anonymous AFC executive saw the potential of wide receiver Rondale Moore during the preseason.

“You could already see in the preseason they are trying creative ways to get him the ball. He’s dynamic. I think he’s heavily involved in what they do.”

Rondale Moore isn’t any ordinary second-round drafted player. Despite being picked 49th by the Arizona Cardinals, Moore is expected to be a dominant figure in the slot and maybe even some time in the backfield this season. The 21-year-old isn’t fazed by the moment and is very excited for the season opener against the Tennessee Titans on September 12.

Moore is behind DeAndre Hopkins, A.J. Green and even Christian Kirk on the depth chart, but it’s a long season and he can easily overtake Kirk and compete with Green for targets.

GM Compares Moore To Pro Bowler

The Cardinals had to be on the edge of their seat when Moore finally fell to them at pick 49. Bob McManaman of the Arizona Republic asked GM Steve Keim if he’s tempted to tell coach Kliff Kingsbury to play Moore as much as possible.

“I think Kliff’s smarter than that,” said Keim. “He doesn’t need me to tell him. In the 24 years I’ve been doing this, I have not seen many guys come in – and I know it’s early and you want to temper expectations – but the one guy I think about a little bit in Anquan Boldin. When he walked through baggage claim, it’s just like he already belongs and he made plays from Day 1. And it didn’t change. One day wasn’t better than the other. Every day this guy made impact plays. That’s what we think of Rondale.”

That’s right, Keim is comparing Moore to three-time Pro Bowler Anquan Boldin. The same great who had 101 receptions in his rookie season and five seasons over 1,000 yards in his Cardinals tenure. Granted, both styles are a little different and Moore stands at just 5’7 compared to 6’1 Boldin.

But coming out of Purdue, Moore was explosive and could turn a corner in a heartbeat.

Hamsting injuries have hurt Moore. It’s fair to say Moore would’ve been a first-rounder without his injury history on top of opting out most of the 2020 season. There were also a few days where Moore was dealing with minor issues during the preseason, but Arizona will monitor him closely.

Nonetheless, his film in 2018 and 2020 speaks for itself. According to PFF, Moore was the second-highest grader receiver in history by a non-quarterback true freshman. There should be lofty expectations for the rookie.

Moore’s Role This Season

Cardinals head coach Kingsbury can use Moore in a number of ways, starting in the slot position with Kirk. Arizona ran the most four-receiver sets in football in 2020, so that should continue.

But, the Cardinals lacked pre-snap motion in 2020, ranking last in that aspect. Arizona will look to fix that department, as they put Moore in motion against the Dallas Cowboys from a receiving position for all three of his preseason rushes.

He’s also listed as the backup to Christian Kirk and Eno Benjamin on the depth chart for punting and kicking returners. Cardinals broadcast correspondent Craig Grialou on his CardsCover2 podcast show mentioned Moore’s abilities in special teams was one of the reasons why he was drafted.

“A lot of the reason why they drafted him was because of his abilities on special teams and this team could use a boost,” said Grialou. “Putting the offense in a better field position and giving the team especially at home a little bit of momentum.

Now I know what you’re thinking. Ex-Cardinal safety Tyrann Mathieu also returned punts and tore his ACL at the position and it hurt the Cardinals dearly. This situation looks to be different in that Moore will be a part-time punt returner. And the Dallas Cowboys have the first-round receiver CeeDee Lamb returning punts as well. But this should be an area where they see how Moore feels.

On offense, expect plenty of screens, designed runs, ways of getting short yardage on third-down and his ability to run in the middle of the field in space with Rondale Moore.

The Titans on September 12 could have their hands full with Moore. It wouldn’t be shocking if he accumulates at least 5 receptions against their below average defense.

The future is extremely bright for the young talented receiver.

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