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3 improvements Panthers WR D.J. Moore must make to take the next step

D.J. Moore, Panthers

News of former Carolina Panthers wide receiver Devin Funchess signing with the Indianapolis Colts leaves D.J. Moore as Cam Newton’s top option for the upcoming season.

At the NFL Combine, Ron Rivera did speak on Moore’s ability to blossom into the number one option. That was the Panthers hope after spending a 22nd overall selection on him.

“After the catch, I think he was number two (in the league) in total yards after the catch. So he’s a guy you want to put the ball in his hands. You’ve just got to find ways to do it.” Rivera said.

Moore is going to be thrust into a bigger role this season, so the Panthers need to figure out what needs to happen for that next step to be taken.

Here are the three things Moore must focus on improving this offseason in order to take the next step.

3. Keep making things happen

There is not a lot of scientific data here. Moore just needs to stay on the path that made him so successful last season. What made him such a threat last year was that he led receivers in yards after the catch. That means he just needs to get the ball into his hands and use his speed to cause havoc.

Rivera alluded to that. The team knows that half the battle is Newton getting the ball into Moore’s hands. That is what made the Panthers so comfortable letting Funchess go. The pair of Curtis Samuel and Moore bring a lot of speed and playmaking ability to the table.

2. Work on route running

This was Moore’s biggest criticism coming out of college. Stephen White of SB Nation looked at what some of these issues prior to the 2018 draft. One of the things pointed out was his ability to make sideline catches, which he struggled with during his college years.

White also noticed that Moore was not great on the deeper routes. Even with his upper echelon speed, the defensive backs were able to close out quickly and contest his potential big plays down field. Although, leading receivers in in YAC and a long reception of 82 yards show improvement in those areas.

1. Be confident

The biggest thing for young receivers with the natural talent of Moore is being confident in what they can bring to the table. He is fast and he can catch the ball. Moore posted a 67 percent catch rate during his rookie season, which is very solid.

Cam Newton will make plays and he will get the ball thrown in Moore’s direction. If Moore walk out there and match-up with some of the best cornerbacks in the league knowing he can beat them, he will do just fine. The mental battle is such a difficult part of sports to be truly good at, but after a strong rookie year he has plenty of reason to be confident.

Will it happen this year?

Moore is going to be thrust into a big role, but some would argue that he took this exact role from Funchess last year. The only difference is that the Panthers will no longer have a big-bodied option. Both Moore and Samuel are speedy and smaller in stature.

That could come into play in the red zone, but outside of that Moore could shine. If the offense is run in a way that just gets him the ball with a little bit of space, watch out. In general Samuel is the deep threat, so Moore will be a prime candidate for quick hitters all year.

It could happen this year. That is why the three reasons were barely football related. Moore showed that he was on the way to his ceiling, and the coaching staff is already showing they will do what they can to get him there.