Knowshon Moreno, RB, Georgia
Name: Knowshon Moreno
Height: 5107 E
Weight: 217 V
40 Time: 4.60 V
Knowshon lacks great top-end speed, and that is a big deal at the halfback position (more likely to rip off 15-20 yard runs than 40 yard runs), but otherwise Moreno is a great athlete. He has the best balance I’ve seen from a college halfback in the years I’ve been scouting, and is a very fluid athlete who runs with good pad level and changes directions very well. I can’t stress how good the balance is, I thought last year Jonathan Stewart had great balance because he always kept his feet from underneath him, but that had more to do with his great strength than anything. Moreno just has a natural feel for how to keep himself off the ground and often gets 5+ yards more than other RBs would because he keeps his feet moving while he is being tackled.
Physical Talents: 6.5
Moreno has an odd frame. At 5’11, he’s the height I like from my halfbacks, but even though he played at 207lbs, he is a thick 207lbs and plays even stronger than his weight room numbers would suggest. Moreno doesn’t have great long speed, but he has very good burst after the hand-off and can accelerate past most defenders.
Body Type: 6.0
Moreno is a very polished player, and aside from one missed play (thought it was pass, but Stafford had called run) he played extremely smart football at UGA. Moreno plays with so much emotion that you almost wonder if he is fully in control, but I’ve seen 6+ games this year and no penalties were called on Moreno. He understands pass protection very well, and does everything you want as a runner (and bounces off the ground as soon as he hits it, which sometimes gets other players to get flagged for hitting him). As a receiver, you’d like to see him use his hands more to catch the ball (reliable, but more of a body catcher), which isn’t the end of the world, it just means he isn’t Brian Westbrook but he is a good receiver. Moreno’s instincts are excellent, as he has a sense of the 1st down marker and reads blocks well.
Understands Playbook: 6.5
Proper Technique: 7.0
Moreno is one competitive player, and one reason I love him is I believe he can raise the energy of an offense. He is very physical for a smaller back (best blocker out of college I’ve seen from the HB position in 3 years of scouting), understands sometimes he just needs to get to the LOS, comes up big in the clutch, and plays with a ton of intensity. The only concern I have is if he might draw a rare flag for unsportsmanlike or jaw with defenders too often, as he is running on pure adrenaline.
Clutch Play: 7.0
Football Character: 7.5 Good upper-body build, plays with his hair on fire.
Personal Character: 6.5 Nothing here to suggest he will be a problem, and in fact is a really likable kid.
Durability: 6.5 Has taken some pops, but is tough and finds a way to get on the field.
Run Instincts: 7.0 Great feel for rush lanes, follows blocks well and anticipates holes opening. Best I’ve scouted the past 2 years.
Tackle-Breaking: 6.5 Moreno isn’t a bruiser, but like Kenny Irons he keeps his feet moving and often manages to get 3+ yards more than you’d expect.
Cutback Ability: 6.5 Moreno is an excellent “cut-ter” (makes good cuts), but does not make the cuts across the whole LOS. When he does, he shows good balance and burst, but lacks the speed to run around a defense.
Inside Running: 7.0 Excellent inside runner due to balance, vision, and toughness.
Outside Running: 6.0 Moreno is very good on off-tackle runs, but lacks the pure speed to beat defenders around the corner.
Receiving Skills: 6.5 Moreno body-catches most of the time (shows the coordination to bring in off-target throws), but is very reliable and is a true threat.
Run After Catch: 7.0 Lacks great speed, but is very capable of moving the chains and is deadly on screen passes due to vision, patience, and open-field ability.
Open-Field: 6.5 The one thing Moreno can’t do is take a pass to the house, but he is extremely tough to tackle in the open field, even in relatively small spaces (like the backfield).
Pass Blocker: 7.5 Lacks great size, but loves blocking on WR screens (when split wide) and in pass protection for the QB. Best I’ve seen in years from a college kid.
Fumble/Errors: 6.5 No fumble problems here, overall a smart player.
Summary: I’ve made no secret that Moreno is one of my favorite players in this draft, or frankly any draft, and there is a good reason. Too often we make a big deal about size/speed, especially at the HB position, but there are tons of HOF/Pro-bowl backs who don’t have exceptional size/speed combinations but make up for it in other ways. IMO, Moreno is one of those backs. He has the best balance I’ve seen, the best pass blocking I’ve seen, and the greatest intensity I’ve seen in the few years I’ve been scouting. He’s a good all-around back capable of running any play, and as a receiver he is excellent at generating 1st downs. Two players I am reminded of are Shaun Alexander (due to vision and inside running, but Moreno is a killer blocker and receiver where Alexander was poor at both) and Clinton Portis (the 2005+ version who is a great blocker and inside runner, not the 200lber from college), and I feel Moreno could be better than either because he truly is the best thing about each of those two backs. While I don’t recommend drafting a RB #4 overall due to money and the overall fungible nature of the RB position, Moreno had huge success behind a pretty bad Georgia OL and if given a decent OL I see pro-bowls and possibly Canton in Moreno’s future.
Final Grade: 7.1
Note: It is unlikely, but I reserve the right to change this grade up to the 2009 draft.
Games Scouted: Florida, LSU, Michigan State, Georgia Tech