Anyone who is a big brother knows that they are responsible for their younger siblings. Their parents expect the oldest to take care of and help a younger brother or sister when they need them the most. For WR Santana Moss (Washington Redskins) it is no exception, as he may have helped his younger brother, WR Sinorice Moss, much more than people think this past season. Santana, who recorded 84 receptions for 1,483 yards and 9 touchdowns while earning a trip to the Pro Bowl in Hawaii this year, played like one of the NFL's best players, despite measuring in at a mere 5-10. Moss wasn't the only smaller wideout to excel in 2005, however, as WR Steve Smith (Carolina Panthers) led the NFL in receiving yards (1,563) despite being just 5-9. How about WR Joey Galloway (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), who stands 5-11 but finished with 10 touchdowns last year (tied for second in the NFC)? The success of these smaller players may put an end to the theory that "bigger is better" when it comes to the wide receiver position, which will in turn help out some of the younger, smaller receivers coming out of the college ranks.
Coming out of Carol City High School in Miami, Moss was ranked the seventh highest rated receiver in the state (Florida prep football). Moss was also a track star at his high school, participating in the 100-meters and the long jump (he owns the school record in that category). He became a Hurricane in 2001, which was the same year Santana was drafted 16th overall by the New York Jets.
Moss played in all 13 games in his freshman year, but spent his time exclusively as a special teams player, where he shined. He caught his first pass (for 12 yards) against Temple University, and caught just two more balls the rest of the year. He didn't see much more action in his sophomore season, recording just eight catches for 111 yards (13.9 yards per catch) as his team won the Big East.
Moss got more playing time in 2004, starting four times while finishing third on the team in receptions with 20. He enjoyed the best game of his career in the first week against Florida State, recording four receptions for 112 yards and a touchdown. After injuring his hamstring though, he did not return to full form, and did not do much for the rest of the year.
In 2005, Moss returned back to form as the team's leading receiver. In 12 games, the Hurricane put up 37 receptions for 614 yards and six touchdowns, averaging 16.6 yards per catch. His best game came against the Temple Owls, when he caught three passes for 122 yards and a score.
When you look at these numbers, you probably aren't impressed. Most scouts weren't either, that was up until last week in Mobile, Alabama for Senior Bowl practices. He showed off his speed and quickness on a consistent basis and was considered one of the top performers in the game, where he put up three receptions for 46 yards and a touchdown to go along with a 27-yard run off of a reverse.
While he is certainly not a guy with blazing speed, Moss can outrun most defenders. In Mobile, Ala., at the Senior Bowl, he showed that he has the ability to take all the room a defensive back gives him, something the great ones learn to do. He also showed the different aspects of his game, whether it was on a deep-post route, an end-around, or a screen pass. He has good hands, runs nice routes and is also a solid return specialist and special-teams gunner, something that will be invaluable in his first few seasons in the league. Moss' performance in the Senior Bowl definitely helped improve his status, but he will need a solid combine if he plans on being considered one of the top in his class.
Obviously, the biggest downside to Moss is his size, as he measures in at a measly 5-8, 185 pounds. He does not provide much in productivity or experience, as he has just 64 receptions for 1,066 yards and nine touchdowns during his career (compared to fellow senior WR Mike Hass from Oregon St., who put up 90 receptions for 1,532 yards and six touchdowns in 2005). He also does not exhibit the toughness that some teams look for, but in a shallow pool at his position, that may not matter much in the long run.
Moss is the kind of player that could shoot up teams' draft boards by the time we reach draft day. In the past, players that exhibit great speed and work out well at the combine have vaulted themselves at least a round ahead of wherever they were previously ranked, (i.e. WR Roscoe Parrish, Buffalo Bills, and CB Fabian Washington, Oakland Raiders, in 2005) and that could be the case here. When all things are taken into account, including his size, speed, talent and the lack of other impact players at his position, Moss could be taken as high as Round 2 and should definitely be off the board by the end of the first day.
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About Francis Duffy
"Fran Duffy has been involved in sports since he was a child. A Philadelphia native, Fran is obviously a die-hard fan of the Eagles, Phillies, Flyers and Sixers. Fran is desperately waiting to see his first major championship from one of his hometown teams. He is a Broadcasting major at Temple University and has experience on the radio as well as in television production. Fran also currently works with Temple football's video-operation's team and is an avid fantasy sports player. Looking for more experience in writing, Fran joined KFFL in the spring of 2005."
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