If finding quality quarterback play in Baton Rouge was hard, getting contributions out of the tight end has been next to impossible for LSU in recent years. We all know about the 2013 team where Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry each had 1,000-yard seasons, but do you know who and how many balls the leading tight end caught that season? It was Dillon Gordon and he caught all of six balls that year.
Even when LSU’s had an NFL caliber tight end the ball never found its way into his hands. Foster Moreau, who was taken in the fourth round of last year’s draft, only caught 52 passes for his career.
Thaddeus Moss may have only played one season for the Tigers, but it was the greatest receiving season a tight end has ever had in 126 years of LSU football. And it’ll pay off with Moss getting selected in next week’s draft.
Position: Tight end
Arm Length: 31 7/8”
Hand Size: 9 7/8”
2019: 47 receptions, 570 yards, four touchdowns
Moss doesn’t have a lot of college film for scouts to work with. He only caught six passes in his lone season at North Carolina State. Moss had to sit out the 2017 season because of NCAA transfer rules and then missed the entirety of 2018 because he fractured his foot in training camp.
After being unable to play for two years, Moss went on to have the best season an LSU tight end has ever had, setting the single-season record for both receptions and yards. In an offense that would feature future NFL players spread out wide at receiver and in the backfield, Moss was a legitimate threat to get the ball on every down. Moss is also a surprisingly good blocking tight end which should help him stick on an NFL roster for years to come.
Moss ought to be a classic safety valve option for a quarterback: the kind of tight end you can dump the ball off to underneath on drag or crossing routes. We know he has excellent footwork, go ask Alabama about his toe-tapping ability, and he’s got good, soft hands that will catch anything thrown his way. And with his size, Moss should be able to box out most defensive backs for contested balls.
Moss isn’t the freakiest of freak show tight ends we’ve seen enter the NFL recently. He’s not going to be a Rob Gronkowski, Travis Kelce, or peak-Jimmy Graham type of tight end. Think about the touchdown he caught against Oklahoma in the Peach Bowl. There’s not a defender anywhere nearby but he doesn’t exactly win the foot race to the end zone. A play like that probably ends with Moss getting tackled inside the 10 at the next level.
There’s also concerns about his burst off the line and getting in and out of cuts. NFL.com’s evaluation of him criticizes his foot speed but considering how much wear and tear there’s been on his feet that’s not too terribly surprising. In fact, a broken foot, the same injury that sidelined him in 2018 but in the opposite foot, kept him from competing at the combine.
Moss is a bit of an unknown heading into the draft. He’s got the family lineage and a good season of film, but he’s only got 18 starts in four seasons of college football to his name. Never mind the fact that he’s had fractures in both of his feet. Moss probably won’t be a team’s number one tight end option, it’s more likely he’ll be a complimentary piece. Think Josh Hill for the Saints, who’s primarily a blocking tight end for New Orleans but can be relied on to catch 10-20 balls a year.