Monday, April 27, 2009

Should D.J. Moore have stayed in school? No.

Chris Low is saying on his blog that D.J. Moore should have stayed in school another year. Sure, the Commodores would be better off with him in the lineup next season.

But I disagree.

What else could D.J. possibly have accomplished with the Commodores next season? He was first-team All-SEC and second-team All-American. He had two interceptions and two touchdown receptions in a nationally televised game against Kentucky that made Vandy bowl-eligible for the first time since the first Reagan administration.

He played big and he played fast and so guys like Mel Kiper were projecting him as a first-rounder. But then he went to the combine where numbers on paper matter more than how you played in big games in college. And the scouts realized that in addition to being 5-foot-8 — instead of his listed 5-foot-10 — he also ran a 4.55 40-yard dash.

All of a sudden, Scouts Inc. dropped his Height-Weight-Speed rating from a 2 to a 4, and his closing burst down to a 3. And his ball skills down to a 2. Anybody who's watched D.J. play knows he's got top-notch ball skills.

If D.J. stayed in school another year, there's no guarantee he'd put up the same numbers he did last season because people would be keying on him. And there's no guarantee Vanderbilt would be in the national spotlight like the team was last season. And there's certainly no guarantee with the talent in the SEC and the exposure that the big-name schools get that he'd even make first-team all-conference again, let alone second-team All-American.

And he'd probably post similar numbers in the combine. He'd still be 5-foot-8, and he wouldn't be running a 4.3 or a 4.4. So take away last season's fanfare but keep this year's combine results and his stock isn't going to be any better.

Can you say Derek Pegues or Arian Foster? Both were all-conference players for bowl teams in 2007 and would have been drafted last year if they'd come out early. But they stayed in school, their teams struggled, and their stock dropped. Neither was drafted yesterday.

I think D.J. made the right decision. He's a football player. He can always go back and get his Vanderbilt diploma. And when he gets on the field, people are going to take notice.

Scouting guru Mel Kiper, who's said all along that D.J. will be fine when he gets to the NFL, called him a "good pick." Todd McShay says the Bears "hit a homer" with D.J. and called him the team's best pick of the draft.

If we could fly around the world like Superman and reverse time and take away these three plays, I think D.J. would have gone a lot higher:

• D.J. falling a yard short of the goal line on his punt return against Miami-Ohio.

• D.J. being tackled a yard short of the goal line on his punt return against Rice.

• D.J. giving up a quick down and out from No. 1 pick Matthew Stafford to future first-rounder A.J. Green in the first quarter of the Georgia game. Green looked about 8 feet tall on that play, which made D.J. look about 4 feet tall.

Them's the breaks. But D.J. had a great season and he felt he was ready for the next level.

“I felt I was ready to go," he told the Nashville City Paper of his decision to forgo his senior season. "I didn’t believe I was going to get too much better than what I was. I was one of the best cornerbacks in the best conference, playing with the best players. I felt I was the best cornerback in the draft.”

And maybe he was. Time will tell. But he's not going to have to wait a year to prove it.

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