The Kansas City Chiefs’ rookie wide receiver Skyy Moore — one of the team’s second-round draft picks in April — did not look out of place during his first NFL game action against the Chicago Bears on Saturday.
No... not even close to out of place.
The transition from Western Michigan University (and the Mid-American Conference) to the present-day AFC West surely hasn’t been (nor will ever be) easy, but it doesn’t appear Moore will be content to coast through his rookie year simply as a supplemental player in a good offense. If early training camp and preseason returns are an indication for what’s to come, he’s on the way to being a versatile, key component in yet another great Kansas City offense.
On Saturday, Moore played 27 offensive snaps — none of which included starting quarterback Patrick Mahomes — but this didn’t prevent him from displaying some of the qualities that make his potential so tantalizing.
First, we should note that Moore spent the vast majority of his snaps in the slot — or at least condensed close to the middle of the formation. He was matched up against Chicago’s backup-level defensive backs — the kinds of players we would hope to see him excel against. Coverages — which were mostly single-high safety looks with an even blend of man and zone coverage schemes — were fairly static.
While this context matters, all we could really hope to see was for Moore to leverage his physical and mental abilities to win. In this set of circumstances, he played really well. Will he have to prove he can do it against starting-caliber defenders in more important game situations? Absolutely. But for now, he did what he was supposed to do.
Our expectation for Moore is that he will be a slot receiver. While that is likely to be how he will spend most of his time, he still stands apart from a typical slot wideout, who usually doesn’t have the linear speed to threaten downfield — or the catch radius to be a legitimate threat from the outside. Moore checks both of those boxes.
Showing the ability to win from variety of alignments at all areas of the field.— Bryan Stewart (@BryanStewart_) August 15, 2022
Play 1 - The release + acceleration to burn a CB in the outside lane
Play 2 - 3rd & 6 from his natural slot position; shows pacing, strength, and toughness through contact pic.twitter.com/Tn70eTrgtf
This helps to make the team’s receivers pretty interchangeable; they can play in many spots and do it well. By throwing Moore out wide — for example — the Chiefs won’t necessarily be sacrificing his quality of play. In turn, this allows head coach Andy Reid to be more unpredictable.
While Moore’s releases against press coverage stand out, he shows more than that in his perimeter game. On tape, we see nuance and mental capacity; he can use his initial route path and foot speed to create space for himself and the quarterback. His 1.46-second 10-yard split — which is in the 97th percentile of NFL wide receivers historically — immediately puts cornerbacks on their heels. A young player with that kind of athleticism — who also displays on-field smarts, strong hands and a good catch radius — has the potential to be special.
DB plays soft zone outside? Time to flash the route running, hands, and body control along the SL. pic.twitter.com/fD2bDHnMa7— Bryan Stewart (@BryanStewart_) August 15, 2022
Playing with backup quarterbacks on Saturday, there were at least a couple of reps where we had to wonder if Mahomes would have given Moore more chances to make a play. It makes sense, because it is one of the main reasons receivers can elevate their games with better quarterbacks. Once Mahomes is the player who is making decisions with the football, Moore could easily appear in the box score more often.
Staple route for KC in the Mahomes era - Skyy has shown to be good fit for the deep over in camp and now PS too.— Bryan Stewart (@BryanStewart_) August 15, 2022
That 10-yard split shows up ️ pic.twitter.com/NCEcmQ6Zqj
It’s easy to see why Moore is most comfortable in the slot and other condensed alignments. From there, he has the space to truly threaten right or left — while showing the wiggle that leaves defensive backs guessing. Over the past few years, the Chiefs have often relied on out routes at the short-to-intermediate levels of the field. Moore appears to be well-equipped to step into that role.
A small thing that matters and can establish trust b/t Moore and his QB - the way he flattens out out-breaking routes. Mitigates risk for the thrower.— Bryan Stewart (@BryanStewart_) August 15, 2022
Play 2 - another one where 15 would be able to rip it to, and he just might come Sept. pic.twitter.com/f5XiM6DTtO
During training camp, we’ve been hearing about some of the ways the Kansas City coaching staff has been getting the ball into Moore’s hands. On Saturday, we saw one of them: Moore caught the kind of jet-motion touch pass that players like Mecole Hardman and Tyreek Hill have previously executed to perfection.
Gotta tip the cap to the defender here with a ridiculously good job of path finding, but gives us a peek at one way Reid will utilize Moore in '22. pic.twitter.com/4SdA0jUj2R— Bryan Stewart (@BryanStewart_) August 15, 2022
There is a lot more where that came from. Veteran wideouts Juju Smith-Schuster, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Hardman still top the wide receiver depth chart — but regardless of his snap count, Reid is going to be putting Moore in great spots to produce. It will be up to him to take advantage of those opportunities.
The bottom line
Moore now moves on to his Arrowhead Stadium debut against the Washington Commanders on Saturday. As these positive performances begin to stack together, we should still maintain realistic expectations.
Unless injuries change things, Moore won’t be in the initial starting lineup against the Arizona Cardinals on September 11. As things currently stand, Moore’s usage as a secondary receiver — like we saw against the Bears — is a reasonable expectation. This is more of a reflection of the Chiefs’ very deep wide receiver group than it is of Moore’s capabilities.
While Moore isn’t a direct replacement for a player like Hill, he certainly has skills that can complement what could become an impossibly unpredictable Kansas City offense. As the season continues, we should expect a steady, healthy climb in Moore’s production. The lengthy NFL season will be an adjustment for him, so his legs will need to be as fresh as possible for the latter months of the season, when he will have the best chance to make the greatest impact.