Damontre Moore Could Buck Trend and Play a Big Role as a Rookie with the Giants

Brad Gagnon@Brad_Gagnon NFL National ColumnistMay 15, 2013

May 10, 2013; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants defensive end Damontre Moore (79) during the rookie minicamp at the Giants Timex Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY Sports
Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY Sports

Watch New York Giants rookie defensive end Damontre Moore on tape and you'll find it hard to believe the former SEC standout at Texas A&M dropped into the third round of last month's NFL draft. 

Moore, who was at one point projected by many to be a first-round pick, saw his draft stock slide this spring because teams wondered about his commitment in practices and his work ethic in general. He may have had 21 sacks, five forced fumbles and 39 tackles for loss during his final 24 games with the Aggies, but embarrassed himself at the combine and couldn't run due to injury at his pro day, and as a result he fell into New York's lap in Round 3. 

Oh, and a 2011 arrest on charges of marijuana possession didn't help his cause. 

But extremely early signs indicate that the Giants might have wound up with a steal, with Moore possessing the ability to replace the departed Osi Umenyiora for years to come. If he can stay focused and continue to produce on game days despite the transition from Saturday to Sunday, superhero pass-rusher Jason Pierre-Paul could have his edge-rushing sidekick. 

"That wasn't one of my strong fortes," Moore said Friday regarding his preparation and practice mentality, according to the New York Daily News. "But I'm here to work and I'm trying to make my weakness my strong point."

I can't imagine there's a better place to make that happen than in the Giants dressing room. This is a veteran team with good influences outnumbering bad influences by a wide margin. Coughlin commands respect and requires discipline from his men. It's the kind of no-nonsense atmosphere that serves to rehabilitate football troublemakers while squashing egos. 

Just ask Michael Strahan, who didn't get along with Coughlin at first but who eventually was tamed by the man in charge. 

"I know it's time to get to work," Moore said Friday, "so I'm ready to come in and listen to him."

Good start. 

Now, a first-team All-SEC defender has added motivation to succeed and is in the perfect environment to do so. 

Since Coughlin took over in 2004, only two Giants have started more than eight games as rookies (Chris Snee in '04 and Aaron Ross in 2007). But with Umenyiora gone and 30-year-old Justin Tuck a question mark after putting up just nine sacks the last two seasons, there's an opportunity for Moore to play an unusually large role from the get-go in 2013.

It hurts that he's only 20 after coming out early, but it helps that Moore can also rush the passer standing up. That's something Moore did during his first two years at College Station, and it means he can be used in the joker rule we've seen Mathias Kiwanuka play the last few years. The linebacking corps is New York's thinnest area, so there's even a chance Moore gets reps back there this year.

"Our coaches are excited to use him in different ways," Giants director of college scouting Marc Ross said after drafting Moore, per the Newark Star-Ledger. "You've seen some of our guys do that hybrid role. He has a skill set to do a little bit of both."

How quickly can he do it? That all depends on how well he practices between now and Week 1. Moore might have to bulk up and prove that he has the frame and the explosiveness to succeed in this league, but his focus right now has to be on proving that he has the right mentality.