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2021 NFL Draft: Breaking down Dan Moore Jr. Part 1, Pass protection

Looking at what the Steelers should get from their 4th round offensive tackle.

Texas A&M v Mississippi Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

The Steelers started Day 3 of the NFL draft in a similar way they ended Day 2, by picking an offensive lineman that wasn’t one of the hyped up names of the draft. Kendrick Green gave the Steelers an interior lineman, and Dan Moore Jr. gives them a tackle. Moore Jr. was drafted 7 spots higher than Kevin Dotson was in 2020, and similarly to how Kevin Dotson was only started when injury forced him into the lineup, I expect the same plan to be in place for Dan Moore Jr.

This is going to be a longer film room because of that, and because we are looking at his play beyond what he brings right now, looking for positive and negative traits. Guessing at what can be fixed or improved in his game.

Moore Jr. was a starter for three seasons at Texas A&M, starting 36 straight games after making one start in his freshman season, a 19-17 win over Florida. His quarterback for all of his starts was Kellen Mond, and the Aggies were a pretty balanced run/pass team over his three years as a starter.

Let’s look at the tape.


Facing speed rushes

Dan Moore Jr. (#65) is the left tackle, just below the tight end to the top of the screen.

Right off the bat you notice his length. Moore Jr. has 34.5 inch arms, one of the few tackles in the 2021 draft class with traditional length at the position. You can see how it helps him cover for getting beat with speed here. That long arm keeps the edge rusher from turning the corner and getting to the quarterback. You’d love to see better footwork that wouldn’t put him in that position, but there’s a reason big tackles with long and strong arms survive in the NFL with less than stellar mobility, and it shows up here. While this play isn’t the prettiest, that length will help Dan Moore Jr. survive, buying him time to improve.

Dan Moore Jr. is the tackle to the bottom of the screen.

On this play Moore Jr. is able to engage earlier on the rush, you can see his length work in his initial punch to keep the rusher farther out, and then at the end he again drives the rusher too deep to be a threat. He gets off-balance at the end, lunging at his man, but at that point in the play we’ll take it.

Dan Moore Jr. is the tackle to the top of the screen.

His footwork wasn’t the fastest in the first two clips, and here he tries to get back quicker, and it lets the rusher cut inside of him and put a hit on his quarterback. One of the biggest areas Dan Moore Jr. needs to improve on is his feet on these speed rushes. That was mentioned in most scouting reports on him, and you can see it in the film.

His length was enough to get by in college, in the NFL he’ll need to improve his movement skills. On the bright side, that is true of almost every tackle heading to the NFL.


Facing power rushes

Dan Moore Jr. is the tackle to the top of the screen.

Ouch. That’s pretty bad. The defensive end wins the first contact, driving Moore Jr. up even higher in his stance and knocking him off-balance, then discards him violently. That’s a bad rep. That was the worst I saw though, most of the time he does better. You will hear the label inconsistent applied to Dan Moore Jr., and you can see it right there, his technique isn’t just raw, he also shows lapses where he lets himself get too high and off-balance before contact.

Dan Moore Jr. is the tackle to the bottom of the screen.

This is a good rep. absorbs the first hit, uses a wide anchor to stop the rusher’s momentum, gets his strong grip in place and drives the defender where he wants him to go. You can see his right hand get into the defenders ribs and once he has him, the rush is done. One of the things that stood out in Dan Moore’s time at the senior bowl is that grip. When he gets a good grip on someone, their rep is over.

Dan Moore Jr. is the tackle to the bottom of the screen.

Here you see the most common result on film when Moore Jr. faces a good bull rush. His footwork and stance at initial impact causes him to give up more room than you would like, but once he gets his base wide he anchors really well, and again you can see that grip lock down the rusher.

With a look at Moore Jr. against speed rushes and bull rushes, let’s look at what I think he struggles the most facing, a good speed-to-power move.

Dan Moore Jr. is the tackle to the top of the screen.

The rusher starts up the arc like a speed rush, then turns into the tackle, converting that speed into a powerful first strike, hence the name.

The speed up the arc exploits Moore Jr.’s feet, and you can see him get higher in his stance as he moves to intercept. Because of that additional height in his stance, the rusher drives him back two big hops, and Moore Jr. is slightly behind his quarterback. That isn’t a top notch pass rusher, in the NFL they’ll be coming faster, converting to power better, and his quarterback will be toast. If Bud Dupree drives a tackle behind their quarterback like that, it’s a bad situation for your offense. If you look closely you can see he gets his arms clamped down on the rusher in that second hop. Those long arms and strong grip are going to be a weapon in the NFL, but he can’t give up that much room and rely on his grip to end the play like he could against the defenders he faced most of the time in college.


Other pass rush situations

Here’s some other plays to round out his pass blocking evaluation.

Dan Moore Jr. is the tackle to the left side of the screen.

Ouch again. Moore Jr. completely misses the stunt, and there’s a linebacker running down his quarterback. That’s not good.

Dan Moore Jr. is the tackle to the bottom of the screen.

Later in the same game he does better, but that’s not a well run stunt and he’s slow to respond. He’s going to need to work on stunts a lot in practice.

Dan Moore Jr. is the tackle to the top of the screen.

That’s not a bad spin move, the defender gets into his chest and tries to spin inside, but Moore Jr. keeps his right hand outside of the spin and counters the move nicely. If you look to the bottom of the screen you can see a spin move that works, before help from the guard shuts it down. It’s hard to see, but at the end of the spin #17 has hold of the tackles inside (left) arm. Moore Jr. pulls his arm back and jabs the rusher to keep his position and keep his hand free.

Those long arms can be quick as well as strong.

Dan Moore Jr. is the tackle to the top of the screen.

Hen Moore Jr. gets hold of the rusher’s wrist. This is in slow motion, and both their arms are a blur when they meet. Moore Jr. comes out of it with control of the defender’s wrist and just raises his arm, wrecking the rusher’s leverage and ending his rep.

Dan Moore Jr. is the tackle to the bottom of the screen.

Love this clip because it shows just how long Dan Moore Jr.’s arms are. He gets them fully extended and gets ahold of the defender’s jersey and again, the rep is over.


Conclusion

Dan Moore Jr. has a big time NFL tackle trait, and that is his arms. He shows a fantastic grip, and he’s fast enough with his arms to counter rush moves and get that grip in place. His arm-length is right where you want an NFL tackle’s arms to be as well.

Dan Moore Jr. also has flaws in his footwork and controlling his height and balance, especially against speed rushes. That’s the challenge for the Steelers coaching staff. Moore will never have feet like a Chukwuma Okorafor, but if he can get his footwork into the “good enough” category for NFL left tackles, his arms will make him a starter, likely at left tackle.

While relying on his arm length and grip was enough against college opponents, in the NFL he’ll have to grow into a more complete player, just like everyone else.

Stay tuned to Behind the Steel Curtain for part 2 of this film breakdown on Dan Moore Jr., where I will look at his run blocking, and for all of your Pittsburgh Steeler news and draft analysis.