Carolina Panthers rookie wide receiver continues at the top of his class this season.
Carolina Panthers general manager Marty Hurney targeted a wide receiver with the team’s first pick of the 2018 NFL Draft. When on the clock back in April at No. 24, no player from the position had been selected previously leaving the pool of prospects wide open for the Panthers.
Having their pick of any player, Carolina made Maryland standout D.J. Moore the selection and after being eased into the position early, he’s definitely making strides down the stretch. A complimentary weapon opposite Devin Funchess on the outside, Moore has contributed to the Carolina offense both through the air and on the ground.
Midway through the year Moore was ranked as the best rookie wide receiver and despite four consecutive losses over the next quarter of the season, he remains atop the list. Pro Football Focus has Moore increasing his grade (82.9) by five points and the overall lead by a margin of more than 10.
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Moore has 42 receptions for 609 yards and two touchdowns in addition to 150 more yards on the ground with 11 carries. While he needs to improve on his route running, his skill set once the football is in his hands is electric. Moore has repeatedly proven himself to be a force with the football, breaking tackles and gaining extra yardage while making opponents miss, if necessary.
Coupled with the development of second-year receiver Curtis Samuel, the two have combined to provide solid weapons down the field for quarterback Cam Newton. Emerging stars in their own right, both have performed well enough to earn more opportunities and with Funchess in a contract year, they could be playing him out of a position.
The NFC South division has been kind to rookie wide receivers this year as the Atlanta Falcons Calvin Ridley, who was taken two picks after Moore, ranked fourth (69.6). Second at the midpoint, Ridley’s production has fallen off slightly over the second half. Tre’quan Smith emerged second on the list after not being present following Week 8, with a 72.4 rating for the New Orleans Saints.
For more grades, advanced statistics and more at Pro Football Focus, subscribe to PFF’s EDGE or ELITE subscriptions at ProFootballFocus.com.