Hell will free over before Bears Twitter is in agreement on seemingly anything. Did Ryan Poles get enough value out of the top pick? Should he have waited to make the trade? Has the front office done enough to help Justin Fields? While most of these arguments are arbitrary at this stage of the offseason, the most recent point of contention, a heated debate about whether D.J. Moore has done enough to be considered a number-one receiver, was especially egregious.
Moore checks all the boxes you want your top pass-catcher to check, and he does so with flying colors. He not only can break a tackle in the open field and take a slant route to the house, but he is also fully capable of using his elite speed and athleticism to beat defenses over the top. His route-running abilities have also improved dramatically since entering the league, and there is reason to believe he has yet to reach his potential in that area.
Unlike many of the elite weapons at the receiver position, Moore is as selfless as they come (which is probably a factor in why he has flown under the radar). He has never complained about a lack of targets despite the Panthers’ passing offense being anemic throughout his tenure in Carolina. Instead, the silent assassin went to work every Sunday and produced like one of the game’s top receivers.
I have seen multiple people call him a good number-two receiver. To those, I ask this.. How many number-two receivers consistently put up 1100 yards through the air? How many number-two receivers consistently make their opponent’s top cover men look silly in the open field? The answer- Not many.
Arguably the most vital factor in an effective pass-catcher is their ability to get open. Moore has proven capable of doing that with the best of them, and he has done so on a regular basis. Since 2019, he has accounted for nearly one-third of the Panthers’ passing yards. It is no secret who was going to get the ball when Carolina’s offense was on the field, and he still managed to make plays against some of the league’s best cornerbacks with defenses keying in on him.
Those who believe Moore lacks what it takes to be considered the top option in a passing attack are the same people who discredited Antonio Brown (the old one) because of his size. On a similar wavelength, they are also the same people who proclaim that Justin Fields is a running back because of his proficiency on the ground. They are willing to play devil’s advocate to outsmart everyone else, and their opinions are not based in reality.
The six-foot, 210-pounder does not have the frame of Mike Evans, the speed of Tyreek Hill, or the route-running ability of Davante Adams. However, he succeeds by being a jack of all trades and has virtually no weaknesses in his game. There is no one way to beat defenses through the air, and the wide receiver position has evolved to feature elite competitors in all shapes and sizes. Moore is one of few receivers capable of succeeding in a Deebo Samuel-like role, and it will be interesting to see if Chicago can find ways to use him out of the backfield.
One of the most impressive aspects of Moore’s game is that he has consistently produced despite never playing with a top-level (or arguably even a mid-level) quarterback. While Justin Fields has not yet done enough to be considered elite, he has significantly more upside than anyone the Panthers have trotted out at quarterback since Moore arrived in Carolina. It is hard to not get excited about the prospect of them both being under contract for at least the next three years.
D.J. Moore is absolutely a number-one receiver. He’s an alpha one, at that. Anyone who believes otherwise has an ulterior motive or has simply not been paying attention.