Sterling Moore, you say? Who the hell is that? Good question. He’s certainly no household name. In fact, he wasn’t even drafted coming out of SMU in 2011, fighting his way into the league as a college free agent with the Raiders before ending up in Dallas by way of New England. So why did the Bucs make a virtual unknown a priority free agent? Dig a bit deeper with me:
In 2012 Dallas Cowboys’ owner/GM/flaming-rectum Jerry Jones traded both his first-round pick and his second-round pick to St. Louis to move up and draft cornerback Morris Claiborne with the sixth overall pick. The Cowboys were desperate to add talent to their flagging secondary, and Claiborne was considered the cream of the crop. Well, I disagreed with Jones over-extending for Claiborne then, as I do now. Ya see, as an SEC fan I watched a lot of the hyped LSU cornerback. And while his cover skills were impressive, I thought he gambled too often and lacked punch as a tackler.
Flash forward to 2014 and tape reveals Claiborne struggling mightily as a starter in Dallas. Struggling so badly, in fact, that the Cowboys were forced to turn to backups, including a no-name, undrafted kid on their roster by the name of — you guessed it — Sterling Moore. And guess what? The non-name backup played lights out, shaming the celebrated high draft pick. That’s right, the 6th overall pick of the 2012 draft was badly outplayed by an kid who did not even play football until his senior year of high school.
So where does Moore fit with the Bucs? Well, though he has the ability to play outside as a starting CB — and I believe he may end up there down the line — he is not going to displace Banks, Verner or even Jenkins in that role right now. However, his size, lateral quickness and physical game make him a great fit at the nickel back spot, a job that’s essentially a full-time gig in modern NFL defenses. Of course, he’ll need to displace incumbent nickel starter Leonard Johnson, and that will be easier said than done since Johnson is himself a human tick who made it to the pros the hard way, and who has endeared himself to the coaching staff with his fiery disposition and physical game. Competition = good. Though they are very similar players I do give Moore the edge since I believe he’s the better athlete.
What’s great about the Moore addition is that the Bucs have assembled credible CB depth across the board. I was hoping they’d draft Notre Dame DB Cody Riggs to challenge the tough-but-limited Johnson for the nickel role, but it’s tough to argue against Moore being a smarter/safer move since he’s already proven that he belongs as a pro. In fact, though I see DT Melton and LB Carter as more important additions, Moore is my sentimental favorite among the new Bucs so far given his long-shot profile and scrappy game. Can’t wait to see him in a Bucs
hideously puke-inducing new uniform.
Reminds me of: A more athletic Leonard Johnson.
Verdict: The 25-year old Moore fits the defense, is steeped in the Tampa2 and is only getting better. Considering age, skill set and fit, I give this one an 8 out of 10 on the Scrappy Scale.