We’ve been using the lull in the football calendar between June’s minicamp and training camp at the end of July to take an early look at some of the likely top prospects for the 2023 NFL Draft.
Today we’re looking at Alabama’s Malachi Moore, who could be one of the top defensive backs in the upcoming draft. Moore made an immediate impact as a freshman at the slot corner position in 2020. He moved to more of a safety position as a junior, but was slowed by injury throughout 2021. There’s a lot of excitement around the Alabama program for what a healthy Moore can bring to an already talented secondary.
The New York Giants appear thin in the secondary before the 2022 season. Moore could be a player to watch over the course of the season and could be commonly linked to the Giants in 2023.
Junior, DB, Alabama
Tackles For a Loss: 2.0
Forced Fumbles: 0
Passes Defensed: 1
- Athleticism - Good speed, quickness, agility, and hip fluidity.
- Versatile defender, able to play safety or nickel.
- Good awareness in coverage zones.
- Able to carry receivers in man coverage.
- Willing run defender - quick downhill trigger.
- Good communicator in pre-snap phase.
- Suffered a stress fracture which nagged him throughout 2021.
- A bit undersized with a slight frame.
- Can he take on blocks from bigger players?
- Can he get bigger players on the ground?
Why is he a top prospect?
Moore is a quick, twitchy, athletic, versatile, and smart defensive back prospect. And it’s probably most accurate to describe Malachi Moore as a “defensive back” at this point. He played a lot of slot corner as a true freshman and transitioned to more of a safety or “STAR” role as a sophomore.
Moore was able to match up with receivers in tight man coverage as a slot receiver, thanks to quick feet, fluid hips, and plenty of speed to carry receivers down the field. He’s a smart, patient corner who doesn’t flip his hips before he has to and can stay in phase throughout the route. He also has enough play strength to take on blocks from slot receivers in the run game.
As a safety, Moore gets good depth on his zone drops, is able to cover a lot of ground when rotating coverages, and is a very willing run defender. He reads the offense very quickly and reacts in an instant. Moore can fly downhill and generally balances aggression in his pursuit and discipline in his angles. He’s also a smart and active communicator throughout the play, making he and his teammates are on the same page in Alabama’s sophisticated defense.
His versatility should be an asset in the coming season. Moore’s ability to effectively play both the slot and the deep middle of the field will allow him to be used in a variety of ways. Likewise, it should allow Nick Saban to keep more of his talented defensive backs on the field at the same time.
What to improve for 2022?
The biggest question facing Moore in 2022 is his health. He was bothered by a stress fracture throughout the 2021 season which limited his practice time during the week and his effectiveness on the field. Reports out of Alabama say that he’s healthy again and has regained his old explosiveness – but he’ll still have to prove it on the field.
Moore has solid length for the position, as he’s listed at 6-foot, however, he appears somewhat slender on the field and is listed at 182 pounds. That could be related to his injury limiting what he could do in the weight room, but it would be good to see him play a bit bigger as a Junior. Moore will need to show that he can consistently take on blocks from bigger players, as well as get them on the ground in space.
One game to watch
Alabama football is always “must-watch” from a scouting perspective, and the strength of the SEC means there are usually a number of good matchups to look forward to. That said, I’m going to go with Alabama’s September 10th game against the Texas Longhorns.
Steve Sarkesian has brought a lot of talent to the Texas program over the last year or so, with a strong recruiting class, as well as good work attracting players in the transfer portal.
(Note: This was originally written before Arch Manning committed to Texas. It’s unlikely he’ll start, but Manning’s commitment to Texas certainly speaks to the talent around the program.)
Texas has a trio of dangerous receivers in juniors Jordan Whittington and Isaiah Neyor, as well as sophomore Xavier Worthy – not to mention running back Bijan Robinson. If all involved are healthy for the game, that could make for a diverse set of matchups for Moore.