When Andrew Berry pulled the trigger to swap picks with the New York Jets to acquire the services of Elijah Moore back in March, many speculated that the Browns found their slot receiver for 2023. Fast forward to four practices into training camp and it is apparent that the Browns got way more than that. In Moore, the Browns may have found the key to unlocking their passing offense.
It is one thing to describe a player as having inside/outside versatility. However, it is quite another thing to be a legitimate threat regardless of alignment and impose stress on defenders. Simply put, Moore is that dude.
Head Coach Kevin Stefanski spoke extensively about the skillset that Moore brings to the table during his pre-practice presser on Thursday; citing Moore’s intelligence as a key factor in allowing him to showcase his versatility.
With Amari Cooper sitting out due to an unspecified strain, Moore has demonstrated his ability to be the focal point in the passing game. There is an undeniable chemistry forming between the third-year wideout and starting quarterback Deshaun Watson. The two combined for multiple big plays during Thursday’s practice in West Virginia.
Physically Moore has all of the elements to be whatever he needs to be in the Browns offense. He is quick and shifty enough to work in the slot, and his long speed combined with his precise route running abilities makes him a fit at either the X or the Z. But it is Moore’s immensely strong hands at the catchpoint that is earning the trust of Watson and will ultimately lead to him garnering a healthy share of opportunities over the course of this season.
The most intriguing aspect of Moore’s inclusion into the Browns offense is that there is a clear plan in place. Stefanski seems intent on using Moore’s alignment to manipulate defenses and create opportunities to get the playmaker in space. Whether that means using Moore in pre-snap motion, in bunch alignment, or even in the backfield, Stefanski is going to use Moore as a way to get defenses to show their hand while creating opportunities for Watson in the process.
While looking good in shorts and helmets does not equate to wins and losses in September, it is obvious that Moore will provide the Browns passing offense a dynamic element that they have not had under Kevin Stefanski. The pieces are all there, now it’s time for Watson and Stefanski to put together the puzzle.