Three former Huskies made their way to Indianapolis for the annual NFL combine -- Dave Teggart, Kendall Reyes and Kashif Moore -- and Moore may have made the biggest impression.
That's not to take anything away from Teggart (UConn's all-time leader in career points) or Reyes (a likely first-rounder), but expectations were pretty low for Moore. So all he did was show up, run a 4.42 40-yard dash -- the fifth-best time among wideouts -- and bench-pressed 225 pounds 19 times, the same number as Ohio State tackle and first-round talent Mike Adams.
Moore also was a top performer in the other middle-school field-day events: vertical jump, broad jump, 20-yard shuttle and 3-cone drill. It's a surprising performance, even for Huskies faithful. Leading up to the combine, Moore's scouting report was that he was more quick than fast, not much of deep threat, but excelled as a possession receiver. Based on his performance in Indy (which, it's worth remembering, took place in shorts and t-shirts and without defenders), he seems like the exact opposite of the original scouting report.
The first explanation that comes to mind: Moore was really limited in UConn's offense last season. This is what happens when a young, unproven quarterback is learning as he goes along. Johnny McEntee has plenty of forgettable moments in 2011, but he also showed glimpses of potential as the season progressed. Obviously, it wasn't enough to help the Huskies overcome a 5-7 record, but it was something. Still, McEntee will face competition this spring, most notably from freshman Casey Cochran.
And Moore will have to convince NFL scouts and coaches that he is a playmaker even if he didn't get much of a chance to display those skills during his senior season. Based on his weekend at the combine, it appears people are already taking notice. Here's ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay:
"(Moore) had some problems tracking and adjusting to the deeper throws, but (he) caught the ball well overall and flashed the ability to pluck it away from his frame. He was a late-round prospect heading into this week, but with this performance Moore will send scouts back to the tape to see if his testing matches his on-field performance."
Moore told the Hartford Courant's Desmond Conner that the anticipation of the combine was difficult.
“It was tough to sleep – it’s probably going to be like that every night – but I was excited, knew what I had to do and it was finally time,” Moore said by phone. “I’ve been working, for several months, six days a week, two times a day, you know, just for this day, to get out there on that big stage and open some eyes.”
After a push towards tall, fast wideouts, the small, fast, shifty pass-catchers appear to again be in vogue. The NFL, more than ever, is a passing league, and to be successful, teams need guys who can get open. There aren't many Calvin Johnson's but the Steve Smith/Wes Welker/Antonio Brown types have paved the way for other diminutive players. Which means Moore has only helped himself, even at 5-9, 180.
"That might make [opponents] overlook my size a little, I hope, knowing that I can jump real high,” Moore told Conner after he busted out a 43.5-inch vertical leap. “I actually had a 44-inch vertical at first but then they were like, ‘hold on, wait a minute that doesn’t look right, we’re going to have to remeasure your reach’ and I’m like ‘man, y’all gonna take away my 44?’ so they took a half an inch off.”
For Moore, these are good problems to have.