UCLA's Moore Out to Prove He's a Special Talent
Rahim Moore has a history of playing well when trying to prove something. Prior to his sophomore season at UCLA, he was inspired by a preseason magazine article that projected him as a fourth-team All-Pac-10 player.
"I just felt embarrassed. I felt I was better than that," he said. "I studied a lot of my freshman film. What I did was I got better. I put people in my life to help me out. I told myself
if I want to be remembered at UCLA and be mentioned as one of the best safeties in college football I have to have a good season."
All he did was lead the nation in interceptions that season with 10. Though his productivity dipped in 2010, Moore could be the first player at either free or strong safety to be selected in the NFL Draft.
Therein lies another source of motivation.
A number of draft analysts believe the safeties don't measure up, relative to the talent available at other positions. The NFL Network's Mike Mayock termed it a "bad, bad safety year," while acknowledging Moore was the best of the bunch, drawing a comparison to Seattle's Earl Thomas.
"He reminds me a little bit of a poor man's (Thomas)," said Mayock. "Not quite as good, but he's got great range. I think he'll fit somewhere late one to mid two."
Moore believes he has first-day ability.
"I hope I'm first round. I believe I have first-round talent," Moore said. "I believe I'm special. I believe my hard work and my film and my accolades have spoken a lot. But I can't be the judge. It's about that one team that will fall in love with me. Hopefully on draft day I'm in the first round and my dream can come true."
After leading the nation in 2009, the 6-0, 202-pound Moore had three thefts in 2010 as opposing quarterbacks became wary of throwing his direction. He also had to adjust to playing in a system that required both free and strong safety skills in the defensive backfield.
"A lot of times, teams wouldn't throw at me," he said. "I had to switch my game up, play more of a strong safety type. In our system, a free safety has to be a strong safety and a strong safety has to be a free. I mixed it up, showed teams I can be physical down in the box and be an overall football player.
"I get (his instincts) from God. He's blessed me a lot. A lot of it comes from film. The way I put the work in, to be a ball hawk and being able to find where the ball is, it takes a lot of range, a lot of conditioning and hard work. Film is a big part of it because you have to put yourself in the best position to make plays."
Moore was in action in UCLA's recent pro day workouts and may have helped his draft stock.
Gil Brandt of NFL.com wrote that he showed "excellent footwork, movement skills and quickness," and moved "effortlessly in his turns and transitions, and he flashed excellent ball skills and hands." Brandt suggested that Moore has the skills "to develop into a ball hawk at the next level."
That's music to Moore's ears.
"If a team drafts me, they won't have to worry about the safety position for the next 10-12 years," he said. "I believe I'm special, and I mean that in the most humble way. I'm going to get in early. I'm going to leave late. I'm going to put in the same amount of hours, maybe more, as the coaching staff."
Moore considered Baltimore's Ed Reed not only the player he'd most like to model his career on but a mentor. The two have struck up a relationship.
"That is one of the smartest men I've ever talked to in my life," Moore said. "In a 45-minute conversation I learned so much. When I first got on the phone with him I almost started crying. That's how much I love the guy. I respect what he does, the hard work and dedication. The things he does on the field and off the field, I think some of the things I do resemble. That's a good guy to look up to. He's what you call a pro."
Soon, the same might be said for Moore -- and others.
"People say it's a weak safety class. I disagree," he said. "You've got a great safety in DeAndre McDaniel (Clemson), Ahmad Black (Florida), Robert Sands (West Virginia), those are some big-time guys. I watched them play. Talent recognizes talent."
BREAKING DOWN THE 2011 NFL DRAFT'S TOP SAFETIESAfter demonstrating his athleticism and speed at UCLA's pro day, Moore is a candidate to be the first safety drafted. Oklahoma's Quinton Carter has the experience to play both safety positions and has excellent athleticism and strength. Clemson's McDaniel had 14 interceptions in his career, including eight as a junior and has excellent size but raised concerns when he ran a pair of 40s in the 4.6 range at the combine. Chris Conte, a free safety from Cal, is a converted cornerback who didn't shift to safety until his senior season and has solid speed and coverage ability.
THE LAST FIVEThe last five safeties drafted by the Colts . . .
2007: Brannon Condren, fourth round, Troy.
2006: Antoine Bethea, sixth round, Howard.
2005: Matt Giordano, fourth round, California.
2004: Bob Sanders, second round, Iowa.
2003: Mike Doss, second round, Ohio State.
THIS YEAR'S DRAFTAn alphabetical list of 15 safeties expected to be selected in the 2011 NFL Draft . . .
Ahmad Black, Florida
Quinton Carter, Oklahoma
Chris Conte, California
Chris Culliver, South Carolina
Jermale Hines, Ohio State
Jaiquawn Jarrett, Temple,
Jeron Johnson, Boise State
Joe Lefeged, Rutgers
DeAndre McDaniel, Clemson
*Rahim Moore, UCLA
*Robert Sands, West Virginia
*Tyler Sash, Iowa
Da'Norris Searcy, North Carolina
*Jerrard Tarrant, Georgia Tech
Deunta Williams, North Carolina
Note: The content in this story and in the series of draft-eligible players that appears on Colts.com in no way reflects the position of the Indianapolis Colts.