By Brandon Hereford, PSO VP of Sports Operations
Jul 07, 2019

UPDATE (8/4/19): After standout performances at OTAs, Minicamp, and Training Camp, Moreland is now listed as Washington’s 4th CB in their 1st released depth chart

Pro Sports Outlook’s ‘Under the Spotlight’ series takes a look at players who may be going under the radar, but won’t be for long. Catch up on players who are showing they deserve more attention for their performance and shouldn’t be getting overlooked much longer. 

Today’s Under the Spotlight: Jimmy Moreland, the Redskins 7th Round Pick who’s already turning heads in camp this summer. Take a look at why the James Madison product has what it takes to become a viable contributor at the next level.

Jimmy Moreland IV carries the ‘Jimmy’ name like his father, grandfather, and great grandfather. He comes from one of the football meccas in the country Belle Glade, FL (also known as Muck City). Belle Glade has produced many pro athletes such as WR’s Kelvin and Travis Benjamin, Steelers Super Bowl hero WR Santonio Holmes, RB Fred Taylor, and more. 

Yet, Moreland flew under the radar in high school, only receiving eight Division 1 offers (most notably Iowa St. and Toledo). It wasn’t until Moreland received a late offer from James Madison University (D1-AA) in Harrisonburg, VA that he decided to be a key part of Everett Withers (current NYG DB coach) initial recruiting class. He was discovered by Brandon Staley (Current Broncos OLB coach) through a mutual friend and one of Jimmy’s former coaches. 

Once Moreland stepped on campus it was evident he was destined for stardom. After his illustrious career which compiled of numerous awards, an FCS Championship, and re-writing plenty of record books, Jimmy was given the opportunity to play in the East-West Shrine Game and eventually the Reese’s Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama. After a strong showing at those events, he was selected with the 227th pick in the 7th Rd of the 2019 NFL Draft by the Washington Redskins.

  • Most INT (18) & INT TD’s (6) in JMU History 
  • 2x 1st Team All-CAA 
  • Consensus All-American as a Senior
  • Blocked 6 kicks at JMU
  • Fed Ex Field is 150 miles from JMU’s Bridgeforth Stadium
  • Athleticism

Despite making plays at the Reese’s Senior Bowl and East-West Shrine Game, Jimmy did not receive an invite to participate in the NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis to truly showcase his god-given talents. Nonetheless, the 2x All-CAA CB did not disappoint at JMU’s Pro Day turning in a 39″ vertical and a sub 4.45 40 in front of many NFL scouts. Both of those results would have ranked him in the top-10 of all CB’s at the combine crushing any potential questions about his pro-ready athleticism.

  • Reading Routes

Moreland’s a true nuisance in press coverage. His ability to mirror the opposing WR’s route disrupts the timing of the play, while he simultaneously keeps his eyes on the Quarterback like the true ball hawk he is. This combination allows him to read the ball coming out of the QB’s hands and disrupt passes before it reaches the intended receiver. His route reading helps contribute to his most important strength: playmaking.

  • Playmaking

Outside of Jimmy’s athleticism and ability to read routes, his ability to make game changing plays is why he’s such a tantalizing prospect. The film speaks for itself. QB’s often wound up regretting throwing toward the rookie CB’s side whenever he stepped on the field. Moreland stuffed his stats with Interceptions, Touchdowns, Blocked Kicks and Pass Break Ups. If Moreland translates this skill to the pro level and begins making play after play like he did at JMU, every team will end up rueing passing on the FCS product. 

Jimmy has stolen the show at the Redskins OTA’s and the head ball coach is clearly taking notice…

“Yeah, he’s a fun guy to watch,” head coach Jay Gruden said afterwards. “He’s always around the ball, excellent ball skills. That’s what drew us to him, and he’s proven to be quite the athlete. He’s picked up the system very well. He’s playing inside and outside. I’ve been very impressed with him.”

  • Playing through WR’s hands
Although he’s seen as an undersized prospect due to the trend of bigger and longer WR’s in the modern NFL, Moreland has the tools to play both inside and outside at the next level. He wasn’t tested by as much size in college as he will face in the League and will need to show improvement at playing through the WR’s hands to break up as many passes as possible at the next level. This is no easy task for a cornerback, one of the most scrutinized and difficult positions in football. Everything is based off of reaction time through mirroring the opponent without being able to use his own hands throughout the play to prevent a PI flag. There’s never been a bigger spotlight on pass interference than now thanks to last years Saints-Rams matchup in the NFC Championship which has caused PI to become a reviewable play. Moreland is sneaky and savvy, but must use proper technique to keep flags in refs pockets at the pro level.
 
  • Run Defense and Pressure
The casual fan may overlook the importance of a CB’s run defense, but it is vital in limiting the offense’s game plan. CB’s (specifically Nickels) have to develop the ability to continuously defeat blocks, maintain their gap, and effectively blitz off the edge. On top of preventing the slot WR’s release options with the amount of space Nickel CB’s have to cover, being a reliable tackler is the hardest part of playing in the slot. Finding a way to get large RB’s and shifty WR’s to the ground has to be an emphasis for Moreland as he gains strength and develops his game. 
 
  • Learning from the Vets
The Redskins have a strong list of elite CB’s that have come through Washington such as 2x Super Bowl Champion Darrell Green, Champ Bailey, Deangelo Hall, Deion Sanders etc. Josh Norman and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie might not be the players they once were, but having veterans that have reached high levels of success early in their careers is a huge plus for Moreland’s development. He has to make it a priority to pick these veteran’s brains and observe what it takes to be a force in the NFL. The $84 million dollar man Landon Collins will be essential in showcasing the tenacity, determination, and relentless effort that every young DB benefits from being around. Having the right mentors around for young players enhances the teams overall future outlook and it looks like breaking the bank for the former Giant Pro Bowler is already having that effect.
  • None
 
Jimmy Moreland played in all 56 games during his collegiate career.

 [NFL Chart Primer]

As a 7th round rookie, there aren’t many expectations in year one. However, Jimmy Moreland has a chance to become an instant contributor whether its this year in the slot or within the time frame of his four-year rookie deal. There’s an opportunity for him to carve out a big role in the 2019 season if Fabian Moreau doesn’t perform well or if injuries continue to decimate the Redskins like in years past. The Redskins do have quality depth in the CB room with Adonis Alexander, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Danny Johnson, and Greg Stroman all fighting for reps behind the three anticipated starters. 

Last year, the Redskins drafted Greg Stroman (VA Tech) in the 7th round of the 2018 NFL draft. He went on to start 3 times and played in 15 of 16 games. There’s a possibility Moreland is in line to have a similar role for a defense that ranked in the bottom half of the league in opposing passer rating and yards/attempt

Role: Rookie backup CB & ST contributor; potential starting slot

@superstar_jimmy has the tenacity, ability, and athletic tools to become one of the top slot CB’s in the game. However, his path to prominence in 2019 won’t be easy as part of a deep CB room in the nation’s capital. Believing he can be a valuable contributor may seem like too much for a 7th round D1-AA rookie, but Moreland’s traits, playmaking ability, and early success in camp give optimism to the Redskins fan base that he can become a quality starter once he hits his prime. After all, the Draft Network gave him a 4th round grade, highlighting his potential to impact games at the pro levelTeams will test the young ball hawk early in his career, but as he continues to grow, the 31 teams that passed on him for six rounds in the draft will realize leaving Jimmy Moreland on the board was the wrong decision.

The slot CB position is one of the hardest to evaluate as NFL front office execs and scouts continue to struggle to find the ideal fit in today’s pass-happy NFL. Just this offseason we’ve seen two former undrafted players (with similar builds to Moreland) Kenny Moore and Justin Coleman change the financial market for slot CB’s. Coleman received a 4yr/$36M deal from DET w/ $16M guaranteed and Kenny Moore just received a similar lucrative deal earlier this month. They are now the two highest paid slot corners in the game respectively. Don’t be surprised if Jimmy Moreland joins that conversation when it’s his time to shine. 

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