GREEN BAY - It seems like a lifetime ago, late April.
That was when J’Mon Moore was selected No. 133 overall by the Green Bay Packers in the fourth round out of Missouri, the 15th receiver taken in the 2018 NFL draft. He was selected 44 spots before future teammate Marquez Valdes-Scantling and 74 before Equanimeous St. Brown.
Now, heading into the last week of December, Moore is putting the finishing touches on the kind of first year he didn’t expect to have.
Moore declined an interview request Thursday and was unavailable Friday, but over the course of the season he has expressed frustration with not being able to see the field. It’s why he welcomed a move to kick returner against Atlanta on Dec. 9.
“Just to get it in my hands; I’ve been getting no action, haven’t had it in a minute, so just to be out there and get a chance to do something, get my feet wet, it’s a good feeling,” Moore said after the Falcons game.
Of the 14 wide receivers selected before him, only Baltimore’s Jaleel Scott has fewer than Moore’s one catch — and that was because the Baltimore rookie was placed on injured reserve before the season started.
First-round pick Calvin Ridley, taken by Atlanta at No. 26 overall, leads the rookie class with 59 catches, 789 yards and nine scores.
After Moore, the only receivers taken in the fifth round or later that have contributed in any way are Valdes-Scantling (35 catches, 538 yards, 2 touchdowns) and St. Brown (21 catches, 328 yards).
Cleveland sixth-rounder Damion Ratley and Oakland seventh-rounder Marcell Ateman are the only other wide receivers taken after the fourth round that have caught more than 10 passes.
Moore was passed early in the year on the depth chart by Valdes-Scantling and St. Brown, and the season has borne out its own frustrations.
Despite the fact that Geronimo Allison finished his season on injured reserve and last played Oct. 28, that Randall Cobb has missed seven games and that Jake Kumerow didn’t see the field until Dec. 2 — plus the fact St. Brown has had to miss snaps due to an elbow injury and a concussion — Moore is bringing up the rear on receiver snap counts.
“It’s hard to see because you don’t see it on Sunday, but J’Mon is improving and the main thing is really just getting used to professional football — how we operate all day long in this building, detailing our alignments, our assignments, our technique, creating consistency which ultimately just builds trust,” Packers receivers coach David Raih said. “J’Mon’s made a ton of progress. And right now it’s just getting the offense down so he can go there and go in and operate smoothly. But he’s got all the ability, the work ethic, loves football. So he’ll get there.”
Moore has played in just 58 offensive snaps, seventh among Packers receivers. He still has just one target, and his one catch, collected Oct. 15 against San Francisco for 10 yards.
He first saw the field in Week 4 against Buffalo.
“Shoot, if you ask me, my number should be getting called a little bit more than what it is,” Moore said after playing 11 offensive snaps against the Bills. “But it is what it is. I plan on making the best out of every opportunity I can get, so I can show these people here what’s up. I just feel like it should be getting called. But, you know, if I get a chance, I gotta prove that.”
When asked about Moore’s limited playing time Dec. 13, the last time he met the media before the end of the year, Packers pass game coordinator Jim Hostler said it essentially became a numbers game when it came to the available snaps.
“Obviously, there’s only so many opportunities,” Hostler said. “Those other two guys (Valdes-Scantling and St. Brown) have done a great job. We’ve talked about that a lot. They’ve done a great job and they’ve earned those opportunities. J’Mon, he started out a little bit slower and hasn’t had that same progress those other two guys have had. When you have progress, you develop faster, so J’Mon’s been behind that sort of way. He’s gotten a lot better.”
Moore did carve out a bigger role on special teams and last week he was finally put in position to return kickoffs on a regular basis — until special teams coordinator Ron Zook said the rookie took a return away from the blocking scheme and fumbled at his own 18, leading to a New York Jets touchdown. Moore was subsequently benched for the turnover.
Looking ahead, with a new head coach likely coming in — and perhaps an entirely new offense — Moore will be starting back at square one to a degree. But, there is a belief that if Moore can somehow work his way onto the field more consistently he’ll be able to capitalize on the work he put in during his first season in Green Bay.
“If we had to go out there and give him more opportunities, I think he would show things that everybody would look at and say, ‘Oh, yeah, he’s made progress,’” Hostler said.