Missouri wide receiver T.J. Moe faces challenges at NFL Combine

Saturday, February 23, 2013 | 6:00 a.m. CST; updated 4:24 p.m. CST, Saturday, February 23, 2013

INDIANAPOLIS — Missouri wide receiver T.J. Moe wants to prove he’s special, and he doesn’t care how he does it.

With the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine under way in Indianapolis, Moe knows he has to stand out in some way to convince an NFL team to take a chance on him.

“I don’t care what it is,” Moe said. “Whether they think I’m the quickest guy here, whether they think I’m faster than they thought.

“Whatever it is, there needs to be something special about me. My job over the next four days is to prove that and provide that.”

That won’t be easy for Moe to do in what is considered a strong draft class at the wide receiver position. Atlanta Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff noted the depth at the position in the 2013 NFL Draft.

“There’s a talented group of wide receivers every year in my mind,” Dimitroff said Friday. “This year's group, you can win with those young rookies that come in that are very talented, like they are in this group.”

Moe also doesn’t fit the prototype teams look for in a No. 1 wide receiver.

Despite the changing offenses in the NFL that require quicker players to line up in the slot, some general managers aren’t changing the criteria for what they want in a wide receiver. Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson says it hasn’t changed much in the 20 years that he has been a scout.

“You still look for big, fast guys,” Thompson said. “Guys who catch the ball and are instinctive. All those things are the same as they were in 1992 when I first started scouting."

Moe knows he doesn’t fit that mold. He’s listed at 6-feet tall, and his game isn’t predicated on speed. But he still thinks he will be able to carve out a niche in the NFL.

“Your skills are your skills,” Moe said. “People aren’t going to draft me to play outside and run a fade route. They’re going to draft me because I can get open underneath and catch the football.”

Moe caught 92 passes as a sophomore with Blaine Gabbert at quarterback for Missouri. In his junior and senior seasons, he caught just 94 passes combined from James Franklin and Corbin Berkstresser.

Despite the significant drop-off in his production, Moe believes he is a better receiver now than he was.

“I had a lot of catches (as a sophomore), but I ran sloppy routes and I just made plays,” Moe said. “Now, I run my routes a lot better. I just didn’t get the opportunity to make plays. You want to watch my later film to see how much better I got. The thing is, the ball wasn’t coming.”

With the Tigers running the ball more often with Franklin at quarterback, Moe said he used the offensive change as a chance to improve as a blocker. But Moe’s biggest development came from catching passes from Gabbert, the No. 10 overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft.

“You’re not going to have a quarterback that will help you develop your hands any better than Blaine,” Moe said. “He throws it about as hard as he can every play. I had a lot of opportunities that season, seeing the ball come from a guy with an NFL arm.”

As Moe’s name was announced over the speaker Friday in a crowded media room at Lucas Oil Stadium, the attention surrounding his table wasn’t as big as he is used to.

With a herd of reporters huddled around the podium to listen to West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith, Moe sat at a table off to the side with just a handful of media, answering questions with a smile.

“I wouldn’t say it’s humbling one way or another,” Moe said. “You try to be humble no matter where you are. Whether you’re in Missouri where everyone knows you or at the combine, you try to be the same person either way."

Supervising editor is Greg Bowers.

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