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Posted Feb. 9, 2009

Know-Shunned Moreno Going Under the Radar

Before the season, everyone was talking about the two elite running backs for the 2009 NFL Draft: Georgia's Knowshon Moreno and Ohio State's Chris "Beanie" Wells. Most had both in the top 15 picks in their preseason 2009 NFL Mock Drafts. We all knew these were special players before the season because we saw the elite talent.

Now, I think Moreno is one of the most underrated players in this draft.

This happens every single year. Draftniks come to consensus opinions and all the mock drafts on football forums pretty much look identical.

If your mock draft looks different, you are heavily criticized - even if it makes sense. Sometimes, criticism is warranted, but sometimes it is not.

When I post a mock draft, I like to be different. I do not want to be the same as everyone else; I want to stand out.

The critiques I receive really push me to be a better mocker and draft analyst. I learn from the criticism. I learn from other's ideas, even if I still disagree with the analysis of my mock.

My point here is, everyone wants to fit in. Everyone on NFL Draft forums (and especially other draft Web sites and television football "experts") wants to agree with one another to a large extent. We want to all come to the same conclusion like we all wanted to eat with the cool kids during lunch in middle school.

When these consensus opinions are fully developed, stating an opinion which goes against the grain can be terrifying.

What if you are wrong? The football world will point and laugh at your opinions which are different. If you go against the consensus, you are risking credibility on a World of Warcraft-like scale - not that anyone will remember what you say anyway.

I should know. It was two years ago that I was considered to have no idea what I was talking about on football forums I was a part of.

Now, I am an NFL Draft analyst for one of the biggest independent football sites on the Internet, and I receive e-mails every day telling me how much my analysis is enjoyed (and despised by the NFL team homers).

Where am I going with this?

A consensus opinion has been formed. Television experts, owners of draft Web sites, and thousands of forum users all concur on the same topic: Knowshon Moreno is not an elite talent - maybe not even a mid-first round talent.

It is completely and utterly ridiculous. When I watch film on Moreno, I see an elite back. He is a back with every tool in the book, and he IS the most complete back since LaDanian Tomlinson in 2001 coming out of TCU. He can cut. He hits the hole hard. Moreno gives punishment and breaks tackles consistently. He has the complete package.

Some of the most ridiculous statements have been made as to why he is not an elite talent. I have heard them all from other draft experts on other Web sites and on the forums.

If you say Moreno is an elite player like I am (No. 2 on my Big Board), then you are REALLY putting your reputation and credibility on the line.

People do not want to do that. It is why mock drafts on Web sites look virtually identical.

The two ridiculous reasons people make as to why Moreno is not an elite talent are:

1. He does not have elite speed.

Are you kidding me? Are we watching the same player? No. 24 for Georgia. Maybe you got your Danny Ware tape confused with Moreno's. Moreno has great speed in the open field, he hits the hole hard, he can change directions on a dime, and he does not digress his speed much when he cuts because of his amazing body control. In Chris Steuber's comparison of Moreno and Tomlinson, he projects Moreno to run a very similar time to Tomlinson when he came out for the NFL Draft, which was a 4.46 40. I completely agree.

2. He is only 207-210 pounds.

I love this argument. We are not talking about a 195-pound Steve Slaton. Knowshon Moreno is 5-11, 207 (hypothetically). Meanwhile, Adrian Peterson is not exactly tipping the scales at 6-1, 217. By the way, I calculated their Body Mass Index, and Moreno has a greater BMI than Peterson. Moreno's BMI is 29.3, and Peterson's is 28.6.

If you are going to say Moreno is too small, then please say Adrian Peterson is too small. He is more high-cut than Moreno, even though he weighs more - so they are essentially the same size.

These are the main arguments against Moreno. Everyone is scared to go out on a limb and say Moreno is elite, other than myself. Granted, I expect Moreno to fall out of the top 10 picks because of no need for running backs, but the consensus is Moreno is not talented enough to be regarded as a top 10 selection.

I guess I am getting sick of all of the same opinions everywhere. I watch the tape, and I will put my credibility on the line for Moreno. I think he is a better prospect than Adrian Peterson coming out because he is a much better receiver and more polished in pass protection, with a similar level of ability in terms of running the football.

I have been right and wrong before when I put my opinion out there. Do not expect that to change in how I view Moreno. If he is given an offensive line in the NFL, you better watch out.

Matt McGuire's Recent NFL Draft Blog Entries:

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