D.J. Moore had a solid rookie season after the Carolina Panthers selected him at No. 24 overall in the 2018 NFL draft. Despite playing for a team that doesn’t air the ball out very often and having a quarterback with a bum shoulder in Cam Newton, Moore still put up 55 receptions for 788 yards.
But when looking even deeper into his rookie stats, Moore also averaged a healthy 14.3 yards per reception and 9.6 yards per target, which are both impressive feats for a first year receiver.
Using those statistics, I looked back over the last 15 years to see how many rookie receivers put up numbers similar to Moore’s and what it may mean for his future. I’m calling this the “PIPE” Dream score (a metric I totally made up) based on four categories - potential, impact, production, and efficiency:
Potential - Drafted in the first or second round
Impact - Averaged at least 14 yards per reception as a rookie
Production - Registered at least 700 receiving yards as a rookie
Efficiency - Averaged at least nine yards per target as a rookie
Here are the 10 rookie wide receivers drafted between 2004 and 2018 who qualified for the “PIPE” Dream team, per Football Reference:
The Pro Bowlers - Julio Jones, Odell Beckham, A.J. Green, JuJu Smith-Schuster
Four of the 10 “PIPE” Dreamers have been named to the Pro Bowl. Julio Jones, Odell Beckham, and A.J. Green have been three of the most dominant wide receivers in recent NFL history. JuJu Smith-Schuster exceeded 1,400 receiving yards in 2018, just his second year in the league. Putting D.J. Moore in this class of receiver bodes well for his career.
The 1,000-yard plus a Super Bowl club - Hakeem Nicks, Santonio Holmes, Michael Clayton
When you remove the Pro Bowlers from among the “PIPE” Dreamers, three of the remaining six players share the impressive feat of finishing their careers with at least one 1,000-plus yard season while also winning a Super Bowl. It was a bit surprising to see Hakeem Nicks and Santonio Holmes excluded from the list of Pro Bowl receivers, but both of them went on to have solid NFL careers. Michael Clayton had an excellent rookie season (80 receptions for 1,193 yards) but his career derailed from there as he never exceeded 500 yards in a season again.
The 1,000-yard without a Super Bowl club - Lee Evans, Kenny Britt
While Lee Evans never made a Pro Bowl or won a Super Bowl, he had a fine career which included his 2006 season with 82 receptions for 1,292 yards and eight touchdowns. Kenny Britt flashed potential but struggled with injuries throughout his career. His best season (2016) came in his eight year in the NFL when he recorded 68 receptions for 1,002 yards.
Predicting the future for D.J. Moore
D.J. Moore is one of just 10 rookie wide receivers to qualify on the “PIPE” Dream scale over the last 15 years. With the exception of D.J. himself, every other player on this list had at least one 1,000-plus yard season. Only Michael Clayton went on to have a disappointing career.
This is obviously encouraging for Carolina’s young wide receiver. Because the Panthers have a fairly conservative offensive system and tend to spread the ball around, D.J. Moore may not immediately put up eye-popping stats or get enough touches to make a Pro Bowl. But with over 14 yards per reception and nine yards per target, he makes the most out of every opportunity.
When it’s all said and done, let’s hope we have to create a new “PIPE” Dream category just for D.J. Moore:
Pro Bowler with a Super Bowl
Assuming Cam Newton is healthy, how many receiving yards will D.J. Moore have in 2019?
This poll is closed
1,000 - 1,149 yards
850 - 999 yards
700 - 849 yards
Less than 700 yards