When Rahim Moore signed last week to be a Texan, I flashed back to his stellar career at UCLA.
Back in those days, I thought extremely highly of the Bruins ballhawk, even naming him my pre-season Pac-10 (at the time) Defensive Player of the Year. He had ten interceptions as a second year true sophomore in 2009 and was a two-time All-American before declaring early for the 2011 NFL Draft.
Not much has changed, well, from a playing style standpoint. I suppose that's about the only thing that hasn't changed for Moore. Many remember Moore misjudging a deep pass for Ravens WR Jacoby Jones that led to a crushing AFC Divisional Playoff loss. Some know about compartment syndrome that nearly cost him his left leg. The man has certainly known adversity.
But, what I remember about his days at UCLA, when I watched him regularly, defines him as a free safety. He's a range player, not a run stopper. He has an uncanny knack of finding the ball thrown in the air and making a play on it. For those looking for the reincarnation of Steve Atwater or Dennis Smith, forget it.
The game has changed so significantly that range players are of much more value than the big hitters that dominated the 1990s and early 2000s. Moore is a decent tackler but he's not going to be a star in this defense because of the hits he delivers.
Moore's value is found in his ability to cover ground and his interception in the Divisional round playoff game against Indianapolis QB Andrew Luck shows just that.
Facing a third and 13 in the second half, the Colts went with a closed 3x1 set (three receivers right and an in-line tight end on the left). As such, it appeared the Broncos countered with man under zone with Moore playing the right half of the field.
On the snap, it's evident that Luck is only concerned with the right side of the formation as he took a half roll to the trips side. The Broncos defensive backs are in man coverage but the first key for Moore was that Coby Fleener, aligned to the left at tight end, stayed in for extra protection.
With no true threat to his side at that point, Moore immediately knew to get on his horse from the right hash to assist fellow safety David Bruton over the top of the three Colt receivers. But, what made things dicey for Moore was that Bruton got lost and caught in no man's land.
Moore knew he had to check to make sure no receiver was going to cross his face to the other side. When he realized no receiver was headed back across the formation, he turned on the jets. At that moment, WR Donte Moncrief broke free from CB Chris Harris and was open by a yard or more.
But, Moore made up the ground in a hiccup and saved Harris' bacon, so to speak.
If there's anyone that knew he had to get "deeper than the deepest", it was Moore. He did that here perfectly, sprinting to gain width and depth and staying over the top of Moncrief.
Interception number five for Moore in the 2014 season.
The Texans led the league in forcing turnovers in 2014 and it was instrumental to their success. As such, there's little question why the former UCLA product is now a Texan and this play v. Luck and the Colts illustrates why he's such a valuable commodity.
A look at Rahim Moore's professional career.