Senior Bowl: Finding The Centerfield Safety

Rahim Moore is an unrestricted free agent. In my time spent in Mobile, AL for the beginnings of the Senior Bowl, one NFL scout gave me some insight into what pro teams are looking for at free safety.

Mobile, AL-- Rahim Moore was selected in the second round of the 2011 NFL draft by the Denver Broncos. As such, he does not have a fifth year option on his deal. He is now an unrestricted free agent.

Moore has had his ups and downs as the starting free safety of the Broncos. He had a rookie season he'd probably rather forget, where he missed tackles, blew assignments and was eventually benched for Quinton Carter, who was drafted two rounds after him.

Carter went on to pick off both Ben Roethlisberger and Tom Brady in the playoffs.

Moore had a significantly better sophomore campaign with the Broncos, but that year (2012) ended on a terrible note for him, as a Joe Flacco-thrown ball sailed over his fingers, and into the bread basket of Jacoby Jones. Jones waltzed into the endzone for the score untouched. The Broncos lost that game at home.

For the next several months, you couldn't hear Moore's name mentioned, without hearing Bill Buckner's in the same breath. However, Moore took the criticism on the chin and vowed to use it as fuel to get better.

And get better he did. Now that his four-year contract with the Broncos is up, looking back on his body of work, he hasn't exactly been the rangy centerfield ballhawk the Broncos drafted him to be in 2011.

He's been solid, but mostly unspectacular. I had the opportunity to discuss Rahim Moore with a scout for a NFL franchise in Mobile today and the prospect of finding the ever elusive centerfielding safety.

When I asked this scout if he saw a prospect in this year's draft class who might fit the bill, he was noncommittal. He didn't see a guy who fits the Earl Thomas or Jairus Byrd model. When I asked him why the safety market seems to be restricted to box guys, he was direct and to the point.

"All those guys who would have been playing safety 5 years ago are now playing corner, for various reasons. In the NFL, teams are looking for the big, long corners, in the image of Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner."

When I asked him why those guys aren't playing safety anymore he said this.

"Because of the money. Most pro corners make a lot more money than safties do, with the exception of your Thomases and Byrds."

He also went on to tell me that every NFL team covets that rangy centerfield safety, but they simply are hard to find. And now we know why. The market is drying up. They're all playing corner.

Rahim Moore was billed as a ball-hawking safety coming of of UCLA, but in his four seasons in the pros, he only managed to pick off 8 passes, with his career high coming this season (4). He's averaged just 2 interceptions per season. Not exactly ball-hawk status.

Some of Moore's limitations have been his instincts and vision. He has the speed to play centerfield but diagnosing the play and getting there in time is where he struggles. He also seems to have an issue with physicality, sometimes showing itself as an unwillingness to stick his nose into the action.

He's a free man now. The Broncos could choose to bring him back, but he's not likely at the top of their free agent priority list. Can the Broncos find a suitable replacement in the draft? Even if it's not a safety?

Maybe they could draft a guy who has mostly played corner in college and transition him to free safety. It'll be interesting to see how it plays out. While I'm in Mobile at the Senior Bowl, I will certainly keep a close eye on the safety prospects, as well as the corners, to see if the answer might staring us all in the face.

Chad Jensen is the Publisher and Lead Analyst for MileHighHuddle. You can find him on Twitter @ChadNJensen and on Google+.

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