Weight: 202 pounds
40 Time: 4.62 seconds (Combine)
Bench Press Reps: 11 (Combine)
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – Unless you’re a kicker, punter or fullback, being the best player at your position typically means you’re off the draft board before the end of the first day.
Rahim Moore’s wait in the green room at Radio City Music Hall was a tad longer. But having to wait until the 45th pick to be the first after selected in the draft didn’t dampen his spirits.
“I knew I wasn’t going to be a first-round draft pick, which is fine because I never planned to be one,” Moore said. “I knew my range; I knew what I was going to be coming out of college. The overall experience has been spectacular. Today I feel like I went No. 1 overall.”
Even though the Broncos got him after trading down nine slots to add picks in the fourth and fifth rounds, Moore’s importance to the Broncos’ rebuilding effort could be profound.
The Broncos’ new defensive coordinator, Dennis Allen, knows how to use a safety to his maximum. As the Saints’ defensive backs coach in 2009, he coaxed a career season from Darren Sharper: 71 tackles, 15 passes defensed and nine interceptions, as many as he’d notched in the previous three seasons combined. New Orleans finished that season third in interceptions, returning five of them for touchdowns (three by Sharper).
Allen and John Fox aren’t afraid to let their safeties roam in search of big plays. This might fit Moore perfectly; he logged 10 interceptions as a sophomore, although that tally plunged to just one last season.
“There were games where (the football) wouldn’t come my way at all,” Moore said.
Then there’s the age factor. Denver’s first-team safeties have a combined 26 years of experience: Brian Dawkins is 37 years old; Renaldo Hill 32.
Worse for the Broncos’ safety trend in recent years is that Denver has displayed an unwillingness to draft safeties and an inability to develop the ones they do pick. Moore is just the fifth safety drafted by the Broncos in the last 10 years, and one of only two taken in the first three rounds of the draft. (Darcel McBath is the other.)
Those previous four drafted safeties — Sam Brandon (2002), Josh Barrett (2008), McBath (2009) and David Bruton (2009) have combined to start just 19 games. Twelve of those were started by Brandon during his first two seasons., when 2000 draft pick Kenoy Kennedy was also a full-time starter.
Since 2005, there have been 97 total starts for Broncos safeties. Only seven came by players drafted as safeties by the Broncos. The Broncos did receive some good seasons at the position in that span, most notably John Lynch’s first three seasons in Denver (2004-06), Nick Ferguson’s career year in 2005 and Dawkins’ Pro Bowl appearance in 2009. But in all of those cases, the safeties in question were 30 or older.
The three safeties drafted by the Broncos since 2008 have yet to bear fruit on defense. Bruton has developed into a special-teams stalwart, but Barrett was waived last summer and Darcel McBath has missed 12 of 32 career games to injury. McBath’s injuries stunted his development last year, because they prevented him from starting in place of the injured Dawkins in October. Without the work McBath would have received, the Broncos were no closer to knowing whether the 2009 second-rounder would be a long-term answer at safety.
Enter Moore, who comes to Denver idolizing Dawkins and Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey.
“These guys are my favorites ever,” Moore said. “I even have a picture of them on my phone and my laptop. I’m a huge fan. I can’t wait to get hooked up with them and get to work.”
Moore’s work might be more extensive at the outset than usual. In 2008, Fox wasted no time installing a highly-drafted safety in his starting lineup, placing third-round pick Charles Godfrey on the first team just six days later at the start of Carolina Panthers minicamp.
It would come as no surprise if Fox elects to drop Moore into heavy action just as quickly — whenever the NFL’s labor impasse is resolved.