Draft Exclusive: Safety in Slot

Safety certainly isn't a first-round need for the Packers. But this top prospect, who picked off 10 passes as a sophomore and interviewed with the Packers at the Combine, potentially would fill a long-term need in Dom Capers' defense.

The Green Bay Packers have Pro Bowler Nick Collins at one safety spot and traded up 15 spots in the third round last year to land Morgan Burnett to man the other safety position.

So, the Packers probably don't need a safety – and definitely don't need one with a coveted first- or second-round draft pick, right?

True, unless that safety has some special characteristics.

UCLA's Rahim Moore has those special characteristics.

"I have a little experience," Moore said of playing cornerback when at the Scouting Combine last month. "Sometimes, you would come to my practices and think I'm a corner, because you might see me pressing up or making plays out there.

"My background is corner. My senior year in high school, I played corner because safety was getting too boring. I've been blessed with some corner skills. A lot of teams have been mentioning would I mind changing my position. Whatever a team needs -- strong safety, free safety, corner. When you play secondary and love football, you should be able to play all three positions."

Moore, who a source told Packer Report had a formal interview with the Packers at the Combine, is far and away the best safety in this draft, and it certainly wouldn't be a reach to take him if he's on the board with the 32nd pick of the draft. He had a stunning 10 interceptions as a sophomore but just one as a junior, with Moore and an NFL source attributing the drop-off to Moore helping cover up for a subpar front seven by attacking the line of scrimmage in run support more often. A 30-tackle increase lends credence to that analysis.

"Some guy showed me a magazine and I saw how somebody projected me to be fourth-team Pac-10 player. I just felt embarrassed," Moore said, thinking back to before that prolific sophomore season. "I felt I was better than that. I studied a lot of my freshman film. What I did was I got better. I put people in my life to help me out. I told myself if I want to be remembered at UCLA and be mentioned as one of the best safeties in college football, I have to have a good season."

With the Packers entering this draft with no glaring weaknesses, general manager Ted Thompson – who attended Moore's impressive workout on Tuesday – can take more of a long-term view in improving his roster. At some point, Charles Woodson no longer will be a dominant jack-of-all-trades slot cornerback, and neither Tramon Williams nor Sam Shields have that ability. Moore could be that guy. He's got plenty of speed and quickness to run with slot receivers, and while he's not a great tackler, that shortcoming has nothing to do with want-to.

And in the short-term, there's no guarantee that Burnett will be ready to roll after tearing his ACL in Week 4 of last season. While the Packers don't play with a true free safety or strong safety, Moore's range makes him a better center fielder than Charlie Peprah.

Moore called the Ravens' Ed Reed, arguably the best safety of this generation, his mentor.

"Our cornerback coach met (Reed) at training camp and we got a hookup," Moore said. "He heard about me, and I'm quite sure I'd heard about him. That is one of the smartest men I've ever talked to in my life. In a 45-minute conversation, I learned so much. When I first got on the phone with him, I almost started crying. That's how much I love the guy. I respect what he does, the hard work and dedication. The things he does on the field and off the field, I think some of the things I do resemble. That's a good guy to look up to. He's what you call a pro."

Moore will be a pro in just four weeks, and he's confident that he'll join Reed and Collins as the top safeties in the game. Or, maybe one of the best slot cornerbacks in the league.

"If a team drafts me, they won't have to worry about the safety position for the next 10, 12 years," he said. "I believe I'm special, and I mean that in the most humble way. I'm going to get in early. I'm going to leave late. I'm going to put in the same amount of hours, maybe more as the coaching staff."


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.


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