A potential top-five pick heading into the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine, former Texas A&M defensive end Damontre Moore walked away from Indianapolis leaving far more questions than answers in his wake.
Though Manti Te'o has taken a ton of grief for his 40-yard dash time and size, it's arguable Moore had the worst combine of any potential first-round pick. He put up just 12 reps on the bench press, the worst of any defensive lineman participating in drills, and he did not make up for it by showing athleticism.
Moore posted a jarringly slow 4.95-second time in the 40-yard sprint and hurt his hamstring in the process. His performance was so cringe-worthy that perhaps Moore should be sending Te'o daily "thank you" cards for taking the pressure off.
Speaking after the combine, Moore tried to put a positive spin on his disappointing performance, per NFL.com's Dan Hanzus:
I had a rocky start with the bench press. I was really disappointed I was nowhere near what I did when I was training. I was disappointed in that, but it's just like football. There's always adversity, you gotta learn from it and move on.
Moving on won't be as easy as it sounds—especially with the ascent of Oregon's Dion Jordan or LSU's Barkevious Mingo. Both excelled during the athleticism drills and made waves for many scouts. With the ability to play a hybrid of outside linebacker and defensive end, both have seemingly whizzed past Moore on pundits' prospect boards.
Those rankings represent a stark change in stock for Moore. As a junior, he recorded 12.5 sacks, and scouts fell in love with his ability to make plays in both facets of the game. Many projected him as high as No. 2 overall when initial mock drafts started coming out.
It's always a dangerous exercise to put an overwhelming amount of stock into the combine, but it puts a scarlet question mark on Moore heading into his pro day on March 8. Without a vast improvement back at Texas A&M, Moore's stock may well go into a free fall.
Granted, he'll have individual workouts with teams after his pro day. But March 8 will be Moore's last chance to impress a room full of scouts and change his current draft perception prior to hitting Radio City Music Hall.
Of course, Moore's pre-draft performance comes with the dump-truck-of-salt-level caveat: It means nothing for his viability as an NFL player. History is littered with workout warriors who flamed out after their gold-medal performance in the Underwear Olympics, and there are equal examples where the opposite is true.
When watching film, Moore's performance does not lie. Moore is a player that grades out as arguably the best pass-rushing defensive end in this class. He needs to read the ball better, but when he does, there was only one player in the entire nation who was faster off the ball than Moore. And to paraphrase Rick Pitino, Jadeveon Clowney isn't walking through that NFL door (yet).
He's also a committed run defender and has the versatility to use his power or speed to beat offensive linemen in passing situations.
Moreover, there is a reason very few people (if anyone) questioned Moore's effort getting prepared for the combine. His tireless motor and insistence on playing through the whistle shows up consistently, oftentimes with Moore tracking down a ball-carrier on plays not run to his side of the field.
All that being said, Moore put himself behind the proverbial 8-ball in Indianapolis. There are droves of talented defensive line prospects in this class. One could even argue that the 2013 draft may have the most hyped-up interior defenders in history. That means any slippage, no matter how slight, could ultimately be the tiebreaker between Moore, Mingo, Jordan and a cabal of others.
Moore slipped, and now he has to feel the consequences.
Whether that's "fair" is debatable. I tend to be of the mind that NFL teams should draft who they want based on whatever reasoning they want. If it ends up being a bad decision, well, there's a reason NFL coaches and general managers have the turnover rate of telemarketers.
But that won't help pad Moore's bank account. It's not an exaggeration to say he has millions of dollars on the line in College Station come March 8.
Another slow 40 time and disconcerting bench press performance and Moore may be fighting just to stay inside the first round. A vast improvement around the board and Moore could rejoin the conversation with his other luminaries inside the top 10.
It seems hyperbolic, but perceptive value means everything for NFL prospects. Moore will only get one more public opportunity to change the way teams view him prior to April's draft. He better hope he takes advantage.