2021 NFL Draft: Is Rondale Moore the next Tavon Austin?

Rondale Moore, Chicago Bears (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
Rondale Moore, Chicago Bears (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) /

Rondale Moore is one of the top wide receiver prospects in the 2021 NFL Draft. He’s seen as a dynamic playmaker who is a threat to score on any play. Some scouts like him so much, that he’s drawn comparisons to former NFL and long-time Carolina Panthers wide receiver, Steve Smith.

Due to the high praise for the former Purdue star, Rondale Moore will likely be a first-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. If Moore is in fact the next Steve Smith, the team that gets their hands on him will have a monster playmaker for years to come. Throughout Smith’s career, he racked up eight 1,000 yard receiving seasons and totaled 14,731 receiving yards. That number ranks eighth all-time among NFL wide receivers. Any team would love to have a player with that potential.

Due to his proven playmaking ability, speed, and quickness, many people believe Rondale Moore will one day be one of the top wide receivers in the NFL. I can see why some compare Moore to Steve Smith. They do have some similarities, but I can also see a lot of similarities between Moore and former first-round pick Tavon Austin.

Austin was a first-round pick by the Rams back in 2013, being selected eighth overall. Coming out of West Virginia, Austin was widely regarded as one of the top wide receivers in the 2013 class, which also featured DeAndre Hopkins, Keenan Allen, and Robert Woods at the position.

Being selected eighth overall, Austin was the first receiver off the board in that draft, and it wasn’t close. The next receiver off the board was Hopkins, who was selected 27th overall.

Looking back on it now, I bet the Rams wished they didn’t use their pick on Tavon Austin. In eight NFL seasons, the most receiving yards Austin has totaled in a season is 509. If you’re an NFL team looking for a star wide receiver, 509 receiving yards is not exactly what you’re looking for.

One of the main reasons why Austin was selected so high, was because of his dual-threat play-making ability. He was a great receiver in college, but he was more than just a receiver. He caught passes, ran the ball, and was a return specialist. Tavon Austin beat teams in so many ways because of his speed, quickness and agility.

Those same reasons are why Rondale Moore is being so highly ranked in the 2021 NFL Draft. There are a lot of similarities between Rondale Moore and Tavon Austin, both strengths and weaknesses. Let’s take a look at some of those similarities.

Dual-threat ability

Like Tavon Austin, Rondale Moore hurt teams in many ways while at Purdue. In his freshman season, Moore caught 114 passes for 1258 yards and 12 touchdowns. In addition to hurting teams as a receiver, Moore hurt teams as a runner. He carried the ball 21 times for 213 yards and two touchdowns. He also gave the Boilermakers a threat as a return man, totaling 662 kick return yards on 33 returns.

In Tavon Austin’s senior year at West Virginia, he caught 114 passes for 1289 yards and 12 touchdowns. Those numbers are oddly similar to Rondale Moore’s freshman season. In addition to his receiving stats, Austin added 643 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 72 attempts. As a returner, Austin had two seasons with over 800 return yards.

Both guys were/are labeled as Swiss army knives entering the NFL Draft. They can hurt teams in a variety of ways, which is a valuable asset to NFL teams.

Size and Durability

One of the biggest concerns surrounding Rondale Moore is his size. Before his Pro Day, he was listed at 5’9″, 180lbs, but his Pro Day measurement was 5’7″. Rondale Moore is definitely on the smaller side.

There are many questions about how Moore’s body will hold up at the NFL level, especially when you consider his injury history. He played a full season during his freshman year but only played in seven games over the last two seasons because of injuries. If he’s already dealt with various injuries at the college level, his build may not allow him to stay on the field much in the NFL.

When Tavon Austin entered the NFL, he was 5’8″, 174 pounds. The main difference between the two is that Austin didn’t have major injuries in college. There were questions about his size coming into the draft, but the injury concerns weren’t there.

Austin hasn’t missed a ton of time to injury throughout his NFL career, but with that being said, he has had a much harder time being effective against bigger, stronger, and faster players at the next level.

Limited to slot receivers

When Tavon Austin was entering the NFL, his scouting reports said he would be limited to being a slot receiver at the next level. This was due to him not being able to line up on the outside against bigger corners who play press coverage. His skill set was best suited for him to get open against zone coverages from the slot.

The same has been said about Rondale Moore in his scouting reports. Moore is at his best when he has a free release, not when he’s up against press coverage. He doesn’t have the size to be up against bigger corners on the outside.

Most of the catches Moore had in college were on quick routes where he could get the ball and use his quickness and explosiveness to make a play after the catch. Throughout his college career, Moore averaged 10.8 yards per catch. 10.8 yards per catch tells you he’s not a deep threat.

This is the same for Tavon Austin. At West Virginia, Austin averaged 11.9 yards per catch. He wasn’t a deep threat, but rather a yards after the catch type of player. Neither player gives you a lot down the field unless they can get the ball quickly and then break down the field after the catch.


While Rondale Moore may have some similarities to Steve Smith, he also has a lot of similarities to Tavon Austin. Just because he has a lot of similarities to Austin doesn’t mean he can’t be an effective NFL player. Moore can be a weapon in the right system and with the right team. However, I don’t think Rondale Moore is a player who teams should be considering in the first-round of the NFL Draft.

Yes, he posted monster numbers at his Pro Day, but the concerns should still be there. Tavon Austin had very similar concerns to Rondale Moore but ended up being drafted way too high. There’s just too many similarities between the two receivers, and that concerns me.

I think anywhere in the first-round is too high to select Rondale Moore. If a team in need of a wide receiver is looking at drafting Rondale Moore in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft, they may want to take a closer look before pulling the trigger, or they may end up with the next Tavon Austin.