Carolina Panthers wide receiver DJ Moore was one of the most productive offensive rookies in the NFL in 2018, and it seems like he hasn’t even scratched the surface of what he can be capable of.
DJ Moore on expectations for his 2nd season: "We saw the jump that Christian had from Year 1 to Year 2. I’m looking to take the same jump. I know Curtis is looking to take the same jump from Year 2 to Year 3. Everybody is just trying to get better."
— Max Henson (@PanthersMax) July 8, 2019
Most NFL players see their sharpest development come during their first three years in the league. The young receiver will look to make leaps and bounds in his production this year, hopefully with a hand from a healthy quarterback throughout the season.
Having a full season under his belt will go a long way for Moore’s role in the offense this season. Norv Turner and the offensive staff should be less hesitant to expand Moore’s prominence in the game plan, increasing his volume and production consequently. If Moore is able to take a jump anywhere close to that of McCaffrey’s in his own sophomore season, this Panthers offense will be a juggernaut.
With high expectations come lofty goals, but what are some reasonable targets for the young receiver in his second year? Let’s take a look at three numbers wide receiver DJ Moore should be targeting in the 2019 season.
In 2018, Moore was brought along relatively slowly in the offense. With little responsibility or volume until the midway point of the season, Moore’s statistics weren’t all that flashy. Moore caught 55 balls on 82 targets. He did not see more than five targets in one game until Week 10 at Detroit. This makes Moore’s production when he was able to get involved that much more special.
DJ Moore owning Lattimore. Holy wow pic.twitter.com/x5Czo7tNCD
— Billy Marshall (@BillyM_91) December 30, 2018
In 2019, Moore will most certainly see an uptick in production across the board. His involvement in the offense increased by the week in his rookie season, and in 2019 he will be an X-Factor in the offense from Week 1 on. I don’t see Moore as a pure volume guy just yet, but a realistic target for him in 2019 is 85 receptions. Moore will have the ability to move the chains in tough situations and should see some solid work underneath. The Panthers coaches know that Moore needs to have the ball in his hands to do the most damage. I’d expect to see him have it quite often.
2. Yards After Contact
DJ Moore is pretty nice with the YAC pic.twitter.com/x2u47cIeqg
— Pod (@LAM0nt87) July 1, 2019
Moore’s calling card thus far in his career isn’t his ability to sky for insane grabs or to lose people with stunning route running. Moore is best known for his ability to run like a running back once he’s got the ball in his hands. In 2018, the rookie led the entire NFL in yards after contact with 273. Better than Golden Tate, Michael Thomas, and Tyreek Hill.
D.J. Moore racked up more receiving yards after contact with a defender than any other WR last year pic.twitter.com/TfOQO9sZCZ
— PFF (@PFF) March 1, 2019
Keep in mind, Moore saw considerably less opportunities to gain yards after contact than the rest of the players on this list. If he can keep the same pace into 2019, he will be arguably the best yards after contact receiver in the NFL. His target number for total yards after contact in 2019 should be 320.
The former Maryland Terrapin had a nose for the end zone during his time in college, a threat to take it all the way on every touch. In the NFL, Moore has struggled to the point in finding pay-dirt, only scoring twice in his rookie season. Receivers should not be judged by their touchdown numbers (see Julio Jones) but you’d like to see your budding star receiver hit the end zone more than a few times moving forward.
Touchdown regression is real for NFL receivers, as the law of averages tends to balance these things out. That being said, I think a perfect target number for touchdowns in year two for Moore is seven. More than tripling scoring from a rookie season is no easy feat, while tempering expectations in an offense that really likes to spread the ball around.