The question you would ask would be, “Who is No. 8?” “
That would be Elijah Moore, the Jets rookie wide receiver who plays every day in training camp and could end up being the franchise’s best draft pick in years.
Is it premature to put him in Canton, as Bill Parcells might say? Yes, but it’s hard not to think of the possibilities as you watch Moore make spectacular catches every day in practice. He catches whatever is thrown at him. If fellow rookie Zach Wilson puts the ball behind him, he adjusts. If he’s in front of him, he’s about to get it.
Its capacity is obvious. You can feel his speed as he runs against other NFL players. His course is precise and his hands sticky. It was these traits that made the Jets fall in love during the predrafting process. Jets recruiter Alonzo Dotson called Moore’s professional day at Ole Miss one of the best he has ever attended.
But the Jets have learned that there is more to love about Moore than his raw talent. Since joining the team, the coaches have loved Moore’s work ethic and the way he behaves. Moore acts more like a 10-year veteran than a player who has yet to play in an NFL game.
“He really wants to improve, he wants everything,” Jets coach Robert Saleh said. “He wants all the information, he wants all he can get on the grass. I think it’s more a testament to the character than to his play and what we ask him, because we all ask them the same thing. He is special, in this regard.
Moore will be on display Saturday night at MetLife Stadium as the Jets perform their annual green and white practice. It will be the first time for many fans to lay eyes on Moore and see what all the hype is about.
You can bet he and Wilson will hook up for at least a “wow” moment as they get used to their new home office.
The Jets drafted Moore with the No. 34 overall pick, shocked that he was still available. They considered taking him on with their second first-round pick at 23 before trading for guard Alijah Vera-Tucker. When Moore was available in the second round, there was jubilation in the draft hall.
Jets general manager Joe Douglas told Moore they were sweating, hoping the Jaguars wouldn’t take him with the first pick in the second round. When Saleh got the phone to speak to Moore, his glee poured out of him.
“Elijah, let’s go man,” Saleh shouted as he hit the table in front of him.
“We were pretty darn excited when he crashed,” Saleh said this week. “It was a serious conversation at 23 if he had made it. Obviously we had gone upstairs to pick up Vera-Tucker. If you had said we would walk away with these three plus Michael Carter in the fourth round, I would have asked you what you were smoking.
Moore’s selection could break a terrible draft pick streak on wide receiver for the Jets. You have to go back to Keyshawn Johnson in 1996 to find a receiver chosen by the Jets who made a Pro Bowl with the team.
They’ve also gotten into the habit of sniffing out receivers in the second round. Reggie Rembert, Ryan Yarborough, Alex Van Dyke, Stephen Hill and Devin Smith have all failed with the Jets (the jury is out on 2020 second round Denzel Mims).
During their pre-project meeting on Moore, Deputy Managing Director Rex Hogan said, “I think this kid is the total package for us. “
So far it has been prophetic.
It’s still early days, but Jets fans deserve some hope and Moore delivered a few early in training camp. He is now bringing the show to East Rutherford for what could be the first of many shows he puts on there.