Evan Moore, Wide Receiver And Tight End

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 2: Tight end Evan Moore #89 of the Cleveland Browns reaches for a pass in the end zone under pressure from cornerback Alterraun Verner #20 of the Tennessee Titans during the third quarter at Cleveland Browns Stadium on October 2, 2011 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Titans defeated the Browns 31-13. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

The Seahawks cut TE Kellen Winslow and signed Browns TE Evan Moore to replace him. Readers of the comment section here may recall I was not a fan of the Winslow trade, overstating my case by questioning if he was worth even the low value we gave up, and got chewed out for the viewpoint. I scouted him out after the discussion, but didn't end up doing a writeup, as I wasn't sure if the primarily negative conclusions would have been welcome.

From the games I watched in-depth, my main notes on Winslow were: his knee problems and regimented practice time do affect his play, from the 2010 to 2011 season he seemed to have fallen off a cliff in speed even if that doesn't show up in the numbers. He is very slow out of breaks and cuts, a slow straight-line runner, and he is not a good route runner. He is a tenacious but poor blocker. Overall, his main assets are his hands and wingspan. His high volume of targets made his raw stats look good, but he was a player I would have been nervous about giving a look as a free agent, but to trade for him? He looked alright during preseason, to the point where I'd convinced myself we would swallow the 7th rounder and high-end contract for the season, but the front office saw better value out there.

Kellen Winslow fit a mismatch prototype that I think the coaching staff really wants for this offense. Regardless of position naming, from Move TE to Joker to Big Slot, we're talking about big guys with good hands and great wingspans, not necessarily great at getting yards after the catch (YAC) and definitely not great at taking the top off the defense, but immensely valuable in establishing the short passing game. Mike Williams was the first of these, and I speculated way back when he could be moved to the Big Slot position, which is closer in type to the Move/Joker tight end. BMW was - to my mind - replaced by Kellen Winslow. Kellen Winslow was replaced by Evan Moore. Both Moore and Winslow are at least as much big slot receivers as they are tight ends, and looking over Browns tape will show Moore lined up wide as a flanker or split end as well. Moore has the advantage of coming in with no pick-cost and a cheaper contract (presumably). But if we take that out of the equation, is he still a better option than Winslow?

I went back to check out "the tape" on him, six games in total, picking (fairly randomly but trying to get a look at different kinds of coverage opposition), 2010 week 2 vs Kansas City (0-2 for 0 yards), 2010 week 6 at Pittsburgh (4-5 for 85 yards), 2011 week 1 vs Cincinnati (3-6 for 35 yards, 1 TD), 2011 week 16 at Baltimore (5-7 for 35 yards, 1 TD), 2011 week 17 vs Pittsburgh (4-6 for 39 yards) and 2012 preseason week 1 at Detroit (2-3 for 31 yards).

If you think that's a lot of games to watch, realize Evan Moore didn't play a ton of snaps until they started using him inline during the 2011 season, so you need to gather a lot of footage to get a good idea of his play. The advantage of covering so much time is you get to see the usage of this WR-converted-to-TE change. In the first three of these games games he was never lined up inline, but was instead always lined up as a wide receiver in any of the three spots, though most commonly the Y. Pro Football Focus calls him misused having been lined up inline on 61.5% of the snaps.

That snapcount is no doubt about right, but it's also true that when he wasn't used inline he played significantly less snaps per game. Even lined up inline he wasn't asked to block too much (usually only on run plays, for obvious reasons), and while the Browns did not use him a lot, they didn't misuse him much either, and through the past two years were creative in where he would line up and what routes he'd run -- running fly routes as frequently as drag routes. Moore is more of a WR than a TE in skillset, and I think more than just their tight end depth it was their overall deep pool of big pass-catchers (Jordan Cameron, Ben Watson, Greg Little, Mohamed Massaquoi) that made Moore both underutilized and expendable.

Some notes from the games after the break, and a conclusion/quick scouting read at the end.

2010 Week 2 Kansas City Chiefs

2-6-CLV 38 (14:25) S.Wallace pass incomplete short middle to E.Moore

Moore lines up in the H-Back spot. He looks slow off the snap, and drops a very easy completion on a comeback, one that hit him right on the numbers. In the third drive of this game, he'd pick up two more snaps from the left slot position.

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3-12-CLV 48 (5:23) (Shotgun) S.Wallace pass incomplete deep right to E.Moore.

Moore is lined up as the flanker on the right sideline. He runs a go-route with 5'9 Brandon Flowers on him. They're isolated with the safety coming in late, and that's an easy completion pretty much every time. Seneca Wallace badly overthrows it out of bounds. After this, E Mo would play more snaps from the slot and one from split end usually running quick outs and drag routes.

3-5-CLV 39 (7:20) (Shotgun) S.Wallace pass incomplete deep left to E.Moore. CLV-E.Moore was injured during the play. He is Out.

Evan Moore was playing big slot in this drive, the play before this one he motioned from left to right slot. Here he lines up in the left slot again, fires out of it pretty fast, then tips up the ball. He's hit hard just after the ball hits his hands, a helmet-to-helmet that removes him from the game.

2010 Week 6 @Pittsburgh

3-10-CLV 45 (12:24) (Shotgun) C.McCoy pass deep left to E.Moore to PIT 36 for 19 yards (W.Gay) [J.Harrison].

Moore is playing from the slot, with the 5'10 William Gay in coverage 8 feet off the line. Again, not much special or noteworthy about this play other than this is the matchup you want every time. This is Colt McCoy's first game as a rookie, and Ben Roethlisberger's first game back from suspension. It was awful. Moore shields out the corner and makes a good-looking grab.

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2-7-PIT 40 (4:30) (No Huddle, Shotgun) C.McCoy pass deep right to E.Moore ran ob at PIT 12 for 28 yards

Moore is lined ined up at the Z/flanker wide receiver spot five snaps of this six-play drive, including this one. The coverage breaks down completely on this one and I honestly have no idea why, Moore is simply not tracked by the corner. Moore is wide-open, but the ball is badly placed, so rather than it hitting him in stride he has to stop and high-point it.

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2-10-CLV 24 (:49) (No Huddle, Shotgun) C.McCoy pass deep right to E.Moore to PIT 42 for 34 yards (B.McFadden).

Again in at flanker. 6'1 Bryant McFadden is playing very far off the line. Moore highpoints it well out of McFadden's reach, and McFadden's no midget.

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McFadden got his later by defending a sure touchdown catch by Moore, though that looked pretty DPI-ish to me. But y'know, Steelers.

2011 Week 1 Cincinnati

3-2-CIN 2 (4:19) (Shotgun) C.McCoy pass short middle to E.Moore for 2 yards, TOUCHDOWN.

Moore lines up at the X/split end receiver spot the first snap of the game and again here. He fights through Leon Hall's press, shields Hall from the ball with his body, and thus opens himself up for an easy completion. As in, an easy throw for McCoy to make, not an easy ball for Moore to catch.

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2-6-CIN 33 (11:32) C.McCoy pass short middle to E.Moore to CIN 16 for 17 yards (N.Clements).

Lined up at Z, runs a seam, jumps up and plucks the ball. Like many of his plays, this is just straight playing as an (oversized) receiver, a skillset the Seahawks have to utilize.

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2-13-CIN 36 (5:58) C.McCoy pass incomplete deep right to E.Moore.

First tight-end esque play for Moore, lined up on LT Joe Thomas' outside shoulder. He steps back, re-sets, then get backs up and motions to the right. He runs a post deep and McCoy fires his way. Chris Crocker is tight on him, and Moore is a step too late and doesn't get both hands up for it. Low-effort on his part, though who knows who is to blame.

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Week 16 @Baltimore

2-7-CLV 39 (12:55) S.Wallace pass short right to E.Moore to CLV 50 for 11 yards (E.Reed). Wallace rolls right and makes throw under pressure

A few snaps earlier, Moore intight on the right, runblocks the DE (Bryan Hall) and does it well. This late in the season, he is lined up tight a lot more. Tip of the cap for All-22 for players like these, because I can't tell much about it from the TV broadcast. Moore is in the left slot position with his corner about 10 yards off, he runs a curl underneath him and is wide open for the completion. Reed blazes in for the tackle. The corner never gets within three feet of him. Ed Reed is amazing.

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2-5-CLV 34 (8:23) (Shotgun) S.Wallace pass short middle to G.Little to CLV 41 for 7 yards (E.Reed).

Moore isn't targeted, but still: he lines up inline on the right, runs a very quick hitch, shields the defender out with his body. Wallace doesn't go his way as Little is open faster, but both are easy first downs.

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1-10-CLV 16 (3:21) P.Hillis left guard to CLV 15 for -1 yards (T.Suggs).

Moore is inline right, isolated on Suggs. He doesn't step back at the snap, allowing Suggs to run around him without getting his hands on him. Hillis is slowed down by early penetration, hits one of his own offensive linemen and is then wrapped up by Suggs.

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3-6-BLT 6 (8:30) (Shotgun) S.Wallace pass short right to E.Moore for 6 yards, TOUCHDOWN.

Moore in slot right, he's immediately pressed hard but beats it pretty fast.

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He runs to the back of the endzone near the right goalpost with his guy close on him, then looks back, adjusts and curls around his corner to open up the passing option for Wallace, who is bootlegging right. Good awareness, good play.

Week 17 Pittsburgh 4-6 39

3-2-PIT 31 (7:45) (Shotgun) S.Wallace scrambles up the middle to PIT 4 for 27 yards (I.Taylor).

Moore is inline left here with Troy Polamalu on him. They wrestle as Polamalu presses Moore hard, but Moore turns right at the 1st-down market, perfect 1st-down option. Wallace is already scrambling at that point (for no good reason as the rush is not close), Polamalu is just delayed enough that he can't quite reach Wallace, but this is a nice play for Moore not because he delays Polamalu, but because he is perfectly positioned for the first down pass, had Wallace not panicked.

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1-4-PIT 4 (6:59) P.Hillis left guard to PIT 8 for -4 yards (C.Hampton).

Moore doesn't seem to know which way the play is going, and shoves James Harrison to the left as if it is a run right. But Hillis runs straight left. Casey Hampton gets great penetration inside to stop Hillis but if he hadn't, Hillis would've made one or two more yards at the most before Harrison got him.

2-10-PIT 24 (2:44) (Shotgun) S.Wallace sacked at PIT 31 for -7 yards (R.Clark).

Moore simply does not see Clark coming on time, as the safety moves up to the line right before the snap, and Moore is late stepping back to pick him up. Hillis also misreads the play and doesn't move in to help Moore, so Clark very easily moves around Moore for the sack. A lack of awareness seems to be Moore's biggest problem as a blocker.

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2-10-PIT 36 (:22) (Shotgun) S.Wallace pass short left to E.Moore to PIT 24 for 12 yards (L.Timmons).

Moore's YAC ability isn't good, he goes down very quick. This is a good example, ball completed near the sideline, but he's immediately brought down by Timmons. The situation is 22 seconds left, no time-outs, down 4 points, game-winning/losing drive, and Moore "lets himself" be tackled in-bounds, leaving the Browns with a spike and a failed hail mary. Not to say Timmons didn't make a great play here, but Moore's failure to fight for extra yards or to battle out of bounds is fairly consistent.

2012 preseason Week 1 Detroit

2-1-CLV 34 (:12) (Shotgun) C.McCoy pass short middle to E.Moore to CLV 49 for 15 yards (D.Coleman; T.Whitehead).

Moore is wide open in the middle as no one covers him in some kind of very soft zone (it's a weird defensive package), McCoy badly places the ball behind Moore, but the tight end adjusts very well for the grab.

General observations:

Evan Moore is not quick in and out of breaks, and looks pretty sluggish at times off the snap. But he is deceptively fast as a long strider, and is very effective going deep on go or seam routes, which is a powerful tool to add to a big TE's arsenal. He is a smart route runner if not particularly crisp in his cuts. He has good hands, though I did see him stonehands a few passes, but more than that he has a great wing-span and knows how to utilize his big body to block out or jump over defenders. He will make a lot of crazy catches for us, as BMW did before him.

He seems like a smart player, adjusting really well if the quarterback has to leave the pocket or if the ball is badly placed, both of which can come up frequently with Russell Wilson under center. He has a nose for the 1st down marker and positions himself perfectly for quick passes for first downs. Despite his size, he is pretty weak with the ball in his hands, and has a very low yards after catch average (2.8 last season, 3.5 on his career). He is usually taken down by the first guy to reach him, so don't expect him to regularly outfight defenders for extra yards.

The Browns didn't use him much as a blocker until a ways in the 2011 season. Once they did, he'd usually stay inline only to run-block. If he was lined up inline on passing plays, almost every time he'd release into a route (usually a short outlet one), which makes perfect sense. He's a willing blocker and has the strength to block ok, but he is often stood up so he gets zero push, and at other time misreads the situation and misses his guy. He's made progress since entering the league. McPherson and Cable are only getting their hands on him now so I don't think he'll be worked in as an inline blocker too much this year, but he's not a hopeless case there, he can and should still grow as a blocker.

Would I trade him straight-up for Kellen Winslow, ignoring the contract/pick cost? Honestly? Yes, I would. In my opinion, the front office just upgraded a position at the cost of re-gaining a pick and some cap space. That's a function of my low opinion on Winslow, but also of Moore impressing. E Mo looks like he has a more varied skillset than the tight end he's replacing: he is a more significant redzone threat and an actual deep threat, whereas Winslow is primarily an underneath receiver who does very little in the redzone at this point in his career. Moore is on about the same level as a blocker, but showing improvement. He is younger and doesn't come with big health concerns. The evidence points to Winslow (despite being only 29) being in the waning years of his career, while Moore is in his peak, and only improving his skills as a tight end.

I'm not expecting huge numbers from Moore right off the bat, but I wasn't expecting huge numbers from Winslow either. I think right now Moore is behind both Zach Miller and Anthony McCoy, who are better blockers but also very good pass-catchers (at least, Miller is). That said, I think they'll line up Moore all over the field as a wide receiver as much as have him play tight end, with a special focus on using him as the big slot in the endzone.

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