The Kellen Moore Conundrum

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With the most wins in FBS history, the 2nd most TD passes, and the 5th most passing yards all-time, Kellen Moore is statistically one of the best college quarterbacks to play the game. But after leading Boise State to its fourth straight 12-win season, Moore will finish his college career with his professional prospects in question.

Why would a proven winner with a 45-2 career record as a starter face scrutiny about his ability to play at the next level?

It’s one of the most hotly debated topics in the 2012 NFL Draft. Numerous pro scouts wonder if Moore’s skill set will translate to the league, as he doesn’t meet many standards for pro football success.

Some point to his size. At 6 feet tall and 191 pounds, critics quickly dismiss his ability to even see over the offensive lineman blocking for him.

His arm is also in question. The ability to throw deep, accurate throws down field is a key skill demonstrated by the league’s elite. Without it, Moore will not be able to make the intermediate “dig” and “out” route throws that are critical to success.

Another issue? Moore is left-handed. Unless the team that drafts him already has a left-handed quarterback, the team will have to make a commitment to scheme changes. Not many coordinators want to go down that road.

These handicaps have some scouts projecting the Broncos star to be selected anywhere from the fourth to sixth round. Many say he’ll be a decent backup quarterback for years, but Moore possesses qualities that could make him a good NFL starter.

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Moore has an excellent football IQ. Time and time again during his career in Boise he proved that he can identify defenses before the snap. His ability to read and break down defensive schemes is top notch. Moore does well with his progressions and makes good decisions with the ball. He won’t force passes when pressure gets to him and will willingly check down to a back or receiver when no downfield option is open. He’s also an excellent athlete who can scramble outside the pocket and make accurate throws.

While some of Moore’s statistical measures may have fallen slightly from previous seasons, this may have been the quarterback’s best year because of what he did with the players around him.

Last season, the Broncos lost leading receivers Austin Pettis and Titus Young to the NFL. The two combined for nearly half of Boise State’s receptions in 2010. But Moore adapted by spreading around the ball to many different options. Boise State was the only team in the nation to have 10 different receivers gain at least 125 yards and catch at least one touchdown this season. The ability to spread the ball to different playmakers is an underrated quality among pro quarterbacks. It’s a key aspect in the play of Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, and Peyton Manning. Moore targeted 16 different receivers in 2011 and completed at least 60 percent of his attempts to each one.

During pro days and on the practice squad, Moore will have to demonstrate that he can function in the pocket to identify receivers without having to roll out. The team likely won’t want him exposed without blocking, especially due to his small stature.

Kellen Moore will have a lot of hurdles to overcome in his journey to the NFL. This NFL season should give him hope. In a league where an above-average passing-running back can carry a much maligned football team to a miraculous 7-2 run, anything is possible.

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