Randy Moss is one of the greatest receivers of all time, so to say that Tennessee’s Justin Hunter could develop into the next Randy Moss is a stretch. However, Hunter possesses a similar skill set that makes that type of future possible.
Looking at Moss and Hunter there’s more than a handful of attributes that match up—both good and bad. They have similar size, the knack for making plays down the field, excellent leaping ability and a tendency to lose focus and drop some balls. This article will look at those similarities to show just how Hunter could possibly have a similar career to that of Moss.
Both Moss and Hunter measure in at 6’4” and a little over the 200-pound mark. That size is a major advantage, as most defensive backs are around six feet tall. This makes it easier for Moss and Hunter to go up and attack the ball at its highest point.
The below pictures are from ESPN.com to show just how close their body types match up.
Because of their size and explosiveness, both players do a great job making plays deep down the field. The speed helps them create space, while the size means that a quarterback can target them even if the coverage is tight.
Having an explosive playmaker at the wide receiver position is very important to an NFL offense. It helps put points on the board, gives the quarterback an excellent target and opens things up for the running game. Like Moss, Hunter possesses the ability to provide the offense with those services.
Over the course of his career, Randy Moss is averaging slightly over 15 yards per catch. This number shows just how well Moss stretches the field. Looking at this season for Hunter, you’ll see that he’s averaging just over 15 yards per catch as well.
Leaping Ability and Body Control
Those big plays don’t happen by accident, as both players possess the athleticism needed to attack the deep part of the field. One of the more important skill sets is the ability to out-leap the defender. Moss and Hunter boast tremendous leaping ability.
This picture shows a good example of both players attacking the ball at its highest point. They clearly have out-leaped the defensive backs.
Possessing this type of skill set really helps out the quarterback. It gives him a target that he can rely on and go to in pressure situations. The coverage in the NFL is very tight, so being able to still make a catch in those situations is extremely valuable.
Drops and Focus Issues
For all the talent both players possess, they both have their struggles with losing focus. This typically results in a drop or running a less than ideal route. For Hunter, it manifests itself in that he allows the ball to get into his body.
The below picture shows Hunter catching the ball up against his chest. Catching the ball this way has a tendency to lead to drops. That’s why coaches teach receivers to pluck the ball away from their body with their hands. Hunter shows that he can make catches with his hands, but sometimes loses focus in this area.
Can Hunter have a Moss-like Career?
The first part of this article talked about “how” Justin Hunter can develop and have a similar career to Randy Moss. However, that doesn’t mean he will have that type of success. The truth is that Hunter has just as many question marks as Moss did entering the draft.
Hunter has the physical talent, but the issues with his lack of focus are a major concern. Catching the ball against his body could mean he doesn’t trust his hands. The NFL needs receivers that can catch the football—not those that allow the ball into their body.
Another issue for Hunter is the fact that his size and lack of bulk make him prone to injury. He has a tendency to take some very big hits, and there's legitimate reason to wonder if he can hold up with that type of contact.
Hunter also shows some poor body language when on the field. This makes me question his maturity and ability to deal with adversity.
The NFL typically favors the side of talent over mental makeup when it comes to the draft. However, we’ve seen plenty of draft-day busts over the years. Hunter has the potential to be one of those busts.
He’s likely to go early in the first round because of his talent and the lack of other options at the wide receiver position. Someone will reach on Hunter because of his high upside, and that could be a recipe for disappointment.