Evan Moore — 6 inches taller and 40 pounds heavier — could not consistently shake smaller, quicker cornerbacks in the open field while a receiver at Stanford.
Now, it's the opposite. A physical hindrance has become a physical mismatch.
A converted tight end in the pros, the undrafted rookie is easily more athletic than anyone matching up on him. During one 11-on-11 play last week, Brady Poppinga shoved Moore to throw him off his pattern and Moore barely flinched, kept curling on his drag pattern and snatched a high pass from Aaron Rodgers.
"Sometimes at receiver, I'd get frustrated," Moore said. "With quick corners, it was tough to separate. It's easier to shine at (tight end) because you're going against a different animal. You're going against bigger guys that are still fast, they're just not quite as quick. They don't break as quick."
In the daily stock watch behind starter Donald Lee, Moore's been a broker's dream. Consistent and peaking. Scouts constantly sift for WR-to-TE gems. Moore has flashed such coordinator-killer ability
It's not going unnoticed.
"He's very athletic. I think he's made the transition well," coach Mike McCarthy said. "He's done a pretty good job on the end-line blocking. I think playing off the ball as much as we do at the tight end position really helps him. He's extremely athletic. He's a mismatch in some situations out in space. You can see the carryover from wide receiver. In his route-running he's exceptional for a tight end."
Picked up midway through OTAs, Moore's athleticism was an eye-catcher. His stride, breaks and hands are a step above his competition for the No. 3 spot, Tory Humphrey and Joey Haynos. The biggest question concerning Moore after minicamp was whether he could bulk up in such a short amount of time.
Green Bay's offense relies heavily on tight ends blocking off the edge, which is why the team hung onto Bubba Franks the past few years even though his receiving skills diminished over the years.
So, Moore went to work. Since minicamp broke in June, his weight has increased from 236 to 245 pounds. Moore amped up his lifting regimen and doubled up his food portions. Eleven days into camp, he has been able to maintain this added mass even in 85-degree two-a-days — without compensating quickness.
"If I can keep that on it will be a big plus for me," Moore said. "I just have to keep eating and hydrate."
Morphing into an all-around tight end takes more than adding weight, though. Moore said his biggest challenge is mastering the minute nuances of the position — starting each play in a three-point stance, maintaining a low center of gravity, etc.
But it hasn't been overwhelming. Moore speaks relaxed and focused, eager not anxious. After more than a week of camp, lookout blocks have been almost nonexistent. Moore's holding his own, which might be all he needs to do given his superior receiving ability.
"Once I do it the right way the first time and I get that feeling of doing it right, it sticks," Moore said. "I didn't expect to come in here after one week and drive defensive ends into the end zone. ... It isn't overwhelming. It is a big task and takes a lot of effort. It takes a lot of focus, but I don't think it's overwhelming by any means."
It seems like the only obstacle slowing Moore down in 1-on-1s is himself. In one daily drill where tight ends face safeties, Moore slipped and fell on one route and dropped another pass. Other than these two hiccups, he's been nearly flawless. No tight end makes quicker choppy steps in short spaces than Moore. No lumbering. He's consistently getting separation in all drills.
Nagging cornerbacks tying him up isn't the only frustration out of the equation. There's one other huge change Moore has welcomed. Like past Packers rookies, Family Night gave Moore a new meaning to intrasquad scrimmages.
But for a receiver banished on a lowly Stanford team in college, such support was refreshing.
"I've never been in a stadium like that when the fans are cheering for the team that I'm on. In college when we played in those environments, they were cheering against us."
Under the lights Monday night against Cincinnati, the stakes will be higher. Two weeks into camp, underdog Moore is on a fast track to a roster spot. In his first NFL game situation, he'll have an opportunity to gain some separation from his competition. Figuratively from teammates. Literally from opponents.
This darkhorse may be too special to let loose.
Tyler Dunne is a regular contributor to PackerReport.com and Packer Report magazine. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.