Rondale Moore presses the X button for the Arizona Cardinals
September 26, 2021
Few NFL rookies have delivered as strongly in the first few weeks of the new season as Rondale Moore of the Arizona Cardinals. The second-round pick already has a solid place in Kliff Kingsbury's offensive structure as a slot receiver and knows how to honor the trust placed in him with outstanding athleticism and sometimes crazy agility. His strong NFL debut comes as no surprise to him, and his teammates had expected exactly that after his strong training camp. Now he just needs to stay healthy, then nothing stands in the way of further video game highlights!
When Rondale Moore sprinted down the left sideline last Sunday and turned around, he had just one thought, "I hope he sees me!" The Minnesota Vikings had arguably not done just that, a blown coverage leaving the receiver virtually muttering free in his second NFL game. The rookie looks back at his quarterback Kyler Murray anxiously for seconds, then finally lets the ball fly. Moments later, Moore rejoices over his first touchdown as a pro in the NFL.
The not being seen thing, perhaps it's internalized in a player who, at just 5'7", has always had to contend with prejudice. And who has always had to draw attention to himself in ways other than his appearance? But there is good news for Rondale Moore. From the looks of it, not only does his big-name signal-caller have his eye on him, but his coach Kliff Kingsbury is always creating new variations to get the ball in the 21-year-old's (11 catches, 182 receiving yards in two games) hands. And it probably won't be long before the league gets more than a few hasty looks in Rondale Moore's direction, either.
Rondale Moore has been something out of a video game
If it didn't, the risk would simply be too great of missing one of the numerous highlights plays that Rondale Moore has been conjuring up on the green turf of America's football fields for as long as he can remember. He's one of those players you like to call a "human joystick" (shoutout to Dante Hall!), someone who seems to have stepped right out of a video game. And one in which the protagonists have superhuman abilities like maybe Tecmo Super Bowl or NBA Jam from the early 90s. Even if Rondale Moore doesn't run over defenders by the dozen like Bo Jackson or fly over the heads of helpless opponents like Michael Jordan, he does press the supposed "X button", the origin of so many children's fantasies from the old console days, with relative frequency.
Maybe Rondale Moore can explain to us what makes him so special since it doesn't seem to be his outer appearance. "I think I have a relatively unique skillset, says the relatively modest kid from the small town of New Albany, Indiana. "Despite my build, I can run all the routes and do all kinds of things with the ball in my hands at the same time. A lot of times players are more specialized in one or the other." Moore describes his skills fairly accurately here. Despite his typical play in the slot for small receivers, he can likewise go deep, get handoffs as a halfback or even run his way into open space with any screen he can think of in the playbook. His one-on-one moves are so mature that his current quarterback Kyler Murray sent Cardinals GM Steve Keim a social media video of Moore even before the NFL Draft, telling him to check this kid out.
Rondale Moore's Freshman Season for the History Books
Moore, of course, had long since ceased to be completely unknown at this point, largely because of his versatility. It earned the former Purdue Boilermakers star the Paul Hornung Award for the most versatile player in the U.S. as early as his freshman season in college. He laid the foundation for that award in his first NCAA game ever when he rattled off 313 all-purpose yards against Northwestern. Perhaps the best thing about it is that he is still wearing a brace at this point. It should not impress him in the further course of his freshman season, ultimately he records 114 catches for 1258 yards, 213 yards on the ground, a total of 14 touchdowns, and quite a few return yards more. He becomes the first freshman in Big Ten history to be unanimously selected to the All-America team. After all, there were some pretty good guys lacing up the shoes in the Midwest before him, and they did it in his time, too. But Moore often shines brightest, as he did with his twelve catches for 170 yards against powerhouse Ohio State, also as a freshman.
The fact that we're not talking about row upon row of monumental all-time records hereafter Moore's three college years is thanks to his ever-revolting thigh. As a sophomore and junior, there are only a full seven games he can make for Purdue. Not really enough to go in the first round in the NFL Draft. No matter how insane the nearly 300 pounds he easily pushes off via squat or the 4.29 seconds he rushes for 40 yards. Jumping, agility, chucking iron - athletic ability has never been a problem for Moore. "I've always looked good in those tests, and I work accordingly for them," he says of his training zeal, which made the term "off day" seem like a cryptic character from another world to him in college.
Rondale Moore is making a lot of friends with the Cardinals
The Arizona Cardinals, however, don't think it's such a bad thing that Rondale Moore had a stumble or two in college. Otherwise, they would never have been able to take him in round two with the 49th pick of the NFL Draft. But now the joy is all the greater. "He plays like he's 20 inches taller," superstar DeAndre Hopkins says of his new colleague. "You can tell he's always had good coaches, and I'm excited to see him dig in." New Cardinal A.J. Green feels the same way. "Man, I love Rondale," laughs the seven-time Pro Bowler. "He doesn't let anything rattle him and always finds ways to make plays that are important to us."
In the one-point win over the Minnesota Vikings, it wasn't just the aforementioned 77-yard touchdown catch that was important for the Cardinals. With the seconds ticking down just before the end of the first half, Arizona needs nearly 20 yards to get into field goal range. Moore catches a short pass and takes off toward the sideline to stop the clock. But then he swings around at the last moment, right through two Vikings defenders, and doesn't step off the field until ten yards to go. Matt Prater then scores from 62 yards. It's a play that even many long-time veterans don't make, sophisticated, smart, and yet with that certain something.
And if Rondale Moore has his way, NFL fans will certainly be able to admire a few more moves like this in the coming weeks. "I'm going to give it my all and there's bound to be something explosive," grins the young receiver, already looking forward to the upcoming games in the Cardinals' offensive ensemble. Rondale Moore won't have to worry about not being seen much longer...
Big thank you to Chris Nass for guest-contributing this entertaining write-up on Rondale Moore to RotoGods. Chris has taken Fantasy Football Twitter by storm over the past month (from Germany nonetheless!), and it's been an absolute pleasure to have connected with him here in the early days of my own journey.
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