The New York Giants appear set on using Olivier Vernon, Jason Pierre-Paul, and potentially Avery Moss as their outside linebackers in 2018.
But even with newly acquired Alec Ogletree and Landon Collins manning the middle of the field, they might yet need another athletic linebacker to help keep the ball in quarterbacks’ hands while their pass rushers do their work.
After what feels like a decade in college, South Carolina’s Skai Moore is finally entering the NFL Draft. He has some significant medical questions, but he is also one of college football’s premier coverage linebackers.
Could he interest the Giants?
- Athletic off-ball linebacker. Moves easily and naturally in space.
- Incredible ball skills. 14 official interceptions over his career at South Carolina.
- Able to stick in coverage with most players over the middle.
- Uses his hands well fighting through blocks.
- Capable player coming downhill.
- Emotional leader on South Carolina’s defense.
- Missed 2016 season with a neck injury.
- Undersized linebacker, might have difficulty dealing with NFL size and strength.
- Size and play style might limit him schematically.
- Slightly old for a rookie at 23.
What They’re Saying
IN OUR VIEW: Moore lacks ideal bulk for linebacker, but still has time to add muscle. He has the athleticism, instincts and ballskills to catch the attention of scouts, though without greater mass he may be forced to attempt the difficult transition to safety at the next level.
-Rob Rang (NFLDraftScout.com)
Does He Fit The Giants?
Skai Moore is a prospect that I’ve been watching for some time, and it feels as though he has been in college forever. His college career started in 2013, he emerged as a starter in 2014, and was thought to be heading to the NFL after the 2015 season.
However, he returned to school for the 2016 season, which he ultimately red-shirted after exacerbating a neck injury suffered in the previous season -- the herniated disc ultimately needed a fusion to fix. The injury isn’t considered to be career-threatening, but any time an injury involves the neck or spine, teams will be extra-cautious.
Moore returned to his pre-injury form in 2017, with 93 total tackles (8 for a loss), 3 interceptions (1 touchdown), as well as 2 more passes defensed. He plays defense with a frenetic energy, which he tries to convey to his teammates. He flies around the field and quickly getting to his assignments in coverage, while keeping his eyes in the backfield to lead him to the play. The combination has resulted in one of the best coverage linebackers around, but he can also be moved away from the play by great eye discipline from quarterbacks, and in run support by running backs.
If the Giants are looking to move on from B.J. Goodson as an inside linebacker next to Alec Ogletree -- who was anointed the quarterback of the defense by Dave Gettleman -- Moore is an intriguing option. His ability in both man and zone coverage would help him lock down the middle of the field if the Giants plan to use both Olivier Vernon and Jason Pierre-Paul as pass rushing outside linebackers in what amounts to a 5-2 front.
Because of questions regarding his size and health, Moore is generally considered a 7th rounder or priority free agent. If he should go undrafted and his medicals check out, he should be on the Giants’ list to call and begin wooing as soon as their last pick is in. (assuming they still don’t have a seventh round selection by the time the draft is over)