"It's quite a fall for Quentin Moses," said Scott Wright, the president of NFLDraftCountdown.com. "He's just been in a free fall for the last eight or nine months."
"Boy, Moses has fallen, you know," echoed Frank Coyle, who runs www.draftinsiders.com and has published Draft Insiders' Digest for 16 years.
Moses' agent said he doesn't know why that is.
"He had a great junior year and his senior year he was the focus for the offense," said Sean Kiernan of Impact Sports Management. "He had Charles (Johnson) on the other side who was allowed to do more this year and given a better opportunity based on Quentin getting most of the attention."
After a junior year in which Moses had 11.5 sacks and 20.5 tackles-for-loss, he was ranked the No. 1 returning defensive end in the nation by ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. and considered a potential top five pick in this year's draft. As a senior, he had four sacks and 12 tackles-for-loss. Now, he's projected as a second-round pick by both NFL Draft Countdown (No. 53 overall) and www.footballsfuture.com (No. 61 overall) and a third-rounder by www.nfldraftscout.com (No. 83 overall) and Kiper.
As a second- or third-round selection, Moses still will have a very good chance of making a team and earning a well-above-average living. However, his contract will be six figures instead of the seven commanded by players taken high in the first round.
"It was definitely a down year statistics-wise, but I think it was good for me to face some adversity before I went to the next level," Moses said. "I don't feel I got worse as a player."
Coyle doesn't think Moses cost himself money by waiting, though, since Moses' weaknesses would have been discovered a year ago had scouts looked more closely, he said.
"They would have looked at him a lot closer last year if he had come out," Coyle said. "The kid is very narrow, doesn't hold the point very well. He's got some quickness off the edge, but he has to win early on the down. If (offensive linemen) get their hands on him, it's over."
Moses bench pressed 225 times just 17 times at the NFL Combine, 16 fewer repetitions than Johnson, raising questions about his strength. As a speed rusher who weighs 260 pounds, Moses needed to impress scouts with his 40-yard dash time, but he was clocked at 4.85 at the combine, .2 seconds slower than former Clemson defensive end Gaines Adams, who is expected to be a top 10 pick.
"That's a wide margin," Wright said. "You can get by with being a little slow if you weigh 280, 290 pounds, but for an undersize defensive end, he needed to run a lot better than that. If you don't run well and are undersized, that's two big knocks. He relied so much on his speed. He definitely struggled to shed blocks."
Like David Pollack before him, Moses might be moved from defensive end to outside linebacker in the NFL.
"It's a question of where you're going to play him," Wright said. "He's the classic ‘tweener.' He's not going to be a fit for every team. Some teams might take him off their draft board because he just doesn't fit."
Kiernan said he is doing his best to make sure talent evaluators understand that Moses is the same player and person who they thought so highly of 12 months ago.
"It comes up in almost every conversation," Kiernan said. "We compare the film from his junior year and senior, and the skills they see in the junior year film are one of the things that make him still very attractive and should allow him to go a little higher than maybe people expect. The NFL draft is based more on what they can make you instead of how good you are today. He still has that ability and upside to be made into a Pro Bowl caliber player."
Moses and Kiernan have told teams have told teams he is willing to move to linebacker.
"We expect him to go on the first day," Kiernan said, meaning one of the first three rounds, "beyond that we're really not sure."