The 95th pick in the 2018 NFL draft was 6 foot 2, 190-pound Safety Tarvarius Moore out of Southern Mississippi. When 49ers general manager John Lynch made this pick it was a bit of a surprise. Moore played safety in college, primarily in the Cover 4 scheme. Looking at the 49ers roster it was a surprise they would take a safety this high. This is not a team in need of more help at safety. Jimmy Ward, a 2014 first-round pick, is still on the roster. Though his future on the team is in question, he is still a valuable piece to the defense for the 2018 season. Adrian Colbert, a seventh-round pick in the 2017 NFL draft, was fantastic in his rookie season and looks to be the guy for the all-important free safety position. Jaquiski Tartt, a 2015 second-round pick, recently signed a new deal and looks to be the future at the strong safety position. So with the two safety positions filled where does Moore fit in?
Lynch stated after Day 2 of the NFL Draft that they were looking at Moore as a cornerback, a completely new position for him in the NFL. Going from college to the NFL is a huge jump for players. Now when you add in a completely new position it is a monumental task for a young player to make the jump. Can he do it? Sure, plenty have before.
In defensive coordinator Robert Saleh’s Cover 3 defense, made famous by Seahawks’ head coach Pete Carroll, the cornerbacks are asked to do a lot.. When looking for a corner for this system, look no further than current 49er and former Seahawk Richard Sherman. He is the standard for what a corner should look like in this system. He has been the best in the business for years in the NFL. Moore will be learning from one of the best.
2016 Divisional playoffs Atlanta Falcons vs Seattle Seahawks. Richard Sherman covering Julio Jones
Sherman is in excellent coverage on Falcons receiver Julio Jones, getting physical with him throughout the route. These are the kinds of things that will be asked of Moore in the 49ers defense. On most routes he will be asked to be physical with his man at the line of scrimmage.
#23 Ahkello Witherspoon 2017 week 15 San Francisco 49ers vs Tennessee Titans
Witherspoon is in off coverage, He keeps his hips turned to protect from his man going outside and covers him on the dig route. Good coverage from Witherspoon and a great example of some of the things a corner is asked to do in Robert Saleh’s system.
2017 week 17 San Francisco 49ers at LA Rams.
When you hear this defense referred to as a “Cover 3” scheme, it is in reference to the deep-third zones. If you cut the deep zone into thirds, those are your three zones in a Cover 3. The two outside corners are responsible for the thirds closer to the sideline and the free safety is responsible for the deep middle third. This zone coverage is sometimes confused with man due to the corners being on the line right on the receiver to press him at the line of scrimmage.
Tarvarius Moore played safety in college, but that does not mean he wasn’t asked to cover. He does a great job here of reacting to the receiver’s route, and using his speed to be in position to break up the play if the ball got to his man. One thing that stood out on film with Moore was his speed.
Moore flashes in the run game, using his athleticism to make plays. This is the type of fire you want to see in a young player. In the NFL he won't be asked to assist in the run game on most plays, but this is a skill that will come in handy on Sundays throughout his career.
Moore is in one-on-one coverage with his receiver, and is in great position to make a play. The problem is that this is clearly a penalty, and in the NFL this is a spot foul. He is raw when it comes to covering a player one-on-one. He will be asked to do this in the NFL on just about every snap. He will require some serious coaching and time to develop into a legit outside NFL corner in the NFL, especially in the scheme that the 49ers use.
Just because Moore won’t make an impact as an outside corner his rookie season does not mean he doesn’t have any value for the 49ers. Moore has the athleticism and the toughness to play in the box. He has experience playing safety and can back up both positions. We also have to consider his contributions on special teams. He will be a valuable gunner on punts and can use his speed on kickoff coverage.
Moore clearly is a project for the 49ers. Because he is a third-round pick, some will expect him to make an impact right away. I don't see that as the case. He can make an impact on special teams and will be a versatile backup, but won't make a huge impact on the field his rookie season. He could surprise in training camp and play well in the preseason and prove me wrong. With his size and speed, he has the chance of turning into an impact player down the road.
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