David Moore, who is fighting for a spot on the Seahawks' 53-man roster, has long displayed the ability to make difficult catches in traffic. But will his impressive preseason production translate when it counts?
David Moore grew up playing a game called “Jackpot.”
The objective of the game was simple: A player throws a football into a crowd, and the person who catches it then assumes throwing responsibilities. They throw and catch and throw and catch, until the sun goes down, the football deflates or mom calls you home for dinner.
Thing is, Moore — now a second-year wide receiver for the Seahawks — never stopped playing “Jackpot.” He was playing it early in the second quarter of the Seahawks’ preseason game against the Los Angeles Chargers on Aug. 18, when Russell Wilson eluded pressure, stepped up in the pocket and threw the football as far as he could.
“I for sure did not think it was going to be thrown,” Moore admitted last week. “But when I turned around and looked up it was in the air and I was like, ‘Gol-ly, something’s got to happen.’
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“Shoot, I just went up and did what I had to do.”
Specifically, Moore had to A.) rip the football away from Chargers safety Jahleel Addae, who had settled under it like a savvy centerfielder, B.) ignore 6-foot-2 cornerback Michael Davis, who was hanging annoyingly like a cape around his neck, and C.) catch the football before crashing to the turf for a 52-yard gain.
Check. Check. Check.
“The one catch, I still don’t know how he got it,” offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer said last week. “It was pretty amazing.”
And it wasn’t a fluke. On the very next play, Wilson took a shotgun snap, looked to his left and lofted a soft liner toward Moore, who boxed out Davis, snared the football above his head and towed the taller cornerback to the 1-yard line for a 19-yard gain.
“The fact that Russell, after the big play, went right back to him shows you that he’s gaining confidence in David,” Schottenheimer said. “In David’s world (that) should give him confidence that, ‘OK, hey, I’m doing really good things and the quarterback’s starting to believe in me.’
“That’s where the magic happens in the passing game.”
To be fair, Moore has produced magic at every stage of his career. At Division II East Central (Ok.) University, the 6-0, 215-pound wide receiver set school records for career receiving yards (2,776) and touchdowns (35).
He was overlooked in the recruiting process by more established programs.
Instead, Rashad Jackson hit the jackpot.
“When we found David it was a deal where, as a Division II coach, you’re kind of like, ‘Man, there’s guys missing him,’ ” said Jackson, Moore’s offensive coordinator for four years at East Central, and the current offensive coordinator at Trinity Valley (Texas) Community College. “I went and watched him play basketball three times his senior year, and I was just really impressed with the athleticism that he had.
“I was like, ‘Man, at a DII (school) we’re not going to have a chance with this kid. Someone’s going to come in late and take him.’ ”
Nobody took him … and the ECU Tigers took advantage.
“I go back to his freshman year,” Jackson said. “One of his first touchdown catches in a game as a true freshman, he caught a slant between two guys and took it 40 yards to the house. The first game of his senior year he ran a play-action post, and the safety didn’t bite on the run, and the quarterback still chucks it up because he knew who that (receiver) was. He caught it between two guys and goes in and scores a touchdown.
“So, yes. That (Chargers catch) is something that’s a very common result for him.”
Still, there was no guarantee that Moore’s skillset — the deceptive physical strength, the coordination, the willingness to attack a football in traffic — would translate to the NFL level. In fact, there still isn’t.
Throughout his rookie season, which was spent primarily on the Seahawks’ practice squad, Moore’s positive flashes were too few and far between.
“We see it all the time in practice (now),” Schottenheimer said. “What he’s doing now, which is cool, is the consistency. He’s doing it day in, day out. It used to be, when I first got here, there’d be a practice and he’d have a great one and then he’d take a couple steps back.
“We’re not seeing that. We’re seeing him play consistent, play well. He’s so big, so powerful.”
Don’t believe him? At 6-0, 215, Moore managed to bench-press 225 pounds 26 times at his pro day in 2017. That would have been the top mark for a wide receiver at the the 2018 NFL Combine.
It also would have topped 22 of the 36 eligible offensive linemen.
“He’s expressing really good all-around feel and skill,” Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said. “He’s got strength, he’s got power, his timing is really good, (and) he’s got really strong hands. He’s stronger than most receivers and he plays like that.
“He looks to be a guy that you really want to involve, and he’s a playmaker.”
But is he a lock to make the Seahawks’ 53-man roster? Beyond entrenched veterans Doug Baldwin, Tyler Lockett and Jaron Brown, there are currently 11 wide receivers essentially jockeying for two or three available spots. One of those will likely be snagged by 14th-year veteran Brandon Marshall. Marcus Johnson, Amara Darboh, Keenan Reynolds, Damore’ea Stringfellow and Moore are the most eligible options for the other one or two.
In August, at least, Moore has been easily the most consistent performer of the bunch, piling up five catches for 142 yards and a touchdown in three preseason games. Most recently, he bullied cornerback Trevon Mathis along the sideline, snared a back-shoulder pass from quarterback Alex McGough and coasted into the end zone for a 36-yard score in Friday’s loss to the Minnesota Vikings. He also had a 75-yard punt return touchdown wiped out by an ill-timed holding penalty.
With less than two weeks until the regular season opener, it’s safe to assume that Moore’s preseason production — plus his special teams capabilities as both a gunner and a returner — have pulled him ahead in the competition.
But don’t expect the second-year receiver to revel in his recent success.
“I wouldn’t say we’re in there fighting for position,” said Moore, whose major was ironically kinesiology, or the science of body movement. “I feel like we’re all brothers, so we know at the end of the day we’re just playing football. We’re having fun.
“We know at the end of camp somebody’s going to have to go. Somebody’s going to stay. We don’t put too much thought into it.”
That’s what Carroll and Schottenheimer are for.
All Moore can do is keep competing. The jackpots will come in time.
“Like I told scouts and guys that came in (to East Central in the draft process), even the guys from Seattle, ‘It may take him a year. It might take him two years. I don’t know the time frame. But at some point he’s going to figure out how to beat guys, and eventually he’s going to rise to the occasion,’” Jackson said.
“His ceiling is so high, I think it was a matter of time until he was able to adapt to the speed of the game and be who I know him to be as a player.”