Zack Moss, RB, Utah
(percentile rank among all RBs at Combine since 1999, courtesy of Mockdraftable.com):
40-yard dash: 4.65 seconds (24th percentile)
Vertical: 33 inches (30th)
20-yard shuttle: 4.37 seconds (24th)
(Utah will have its Pro Day March 26.)
Moss originally committed to Miami, where he would have followed cousins Santana and Sinorice Moss. The latest Moss changed his mind, though, when Miami fired HC Al Golden. Moss and high school teammate QB Tyler Huntley de-committed and flew off to Utah, where both saw time as true freshmen.
Moss played in 10 games, including 3 starts. After missing the opener with an unspecified injury, he averaged 16.5 carries over the next 4 weeks. But then Moss lost 2 more games to a toe injury. After his return, Moss garnered just 18 rushing attempts over the final 6 contests. He would only fall short of double-digit carries 2 more times among his remaining 35 games.
Sophomore year found Moss taking over the starting job from Armand Shyne, who took a redshirt after fracturing his left arm. Moss started 12 of 13 contests and topped 100 rushing yards 5 times. He also fell short of 55 yards 6 other times.
The next season found Moss running even hotter, averaging 121.8 rushing yards per game through the first 9 weeks. But then came possibly the strangest injury situation for any player in this draft class. While climbing into bed one night, Moss aggravated an existing knee condition that no one appeared to know about.
"It could have been a week ago, a month ago, a year ago," HC Kyle Whittingham told reporters of Moss' original injury. "There's just no way to tell."
The injury required surgery and cost him the rest of the season. Whittingham acknowledged at the time that the star back might have played his last game for the Utes.
But Moss returned for his senior year and closed out his career strongly. The numbers above delivered him 1st-team all-conference and 3rd-team AP All-America honors. Moss tallied 8 games of 100+ rushing yards, with another of 99. He also missed another game, this time with a left shoulder injury. The aforementioned remaining 2 games of single-digit carries came when Moss got hurt (at USC, in the 2nd quarter) and in his return game (at Oregon State).
Despite a solid workload of 235 carries, Moss handled just 40.3% of Utah’s rushing attempts. That ranked 14th among RBs invited to this year’s combine. If you take out his 3 injury-impacted games, though, Moss jumps to 49.7% and ranks 6th in the class. His market share of Utah rushing TDs outside of those 3 games (50%) tied for just 11th in the class, as did his 6.38% TD rate.
Beyond the traditional numbers, Pro Football Focus loves Moss. They rank him 1st among RBs in this class. From their draft guide:
He’s been one of the more elusive backs in that stretch, breaking 0.33 tackles per rush attempt which was the third highest rate. That’s very promising for his NFL future considering that trait translates from college to pro more than any other for ball carriers. He’s also produced the fifth most explosive rushes of 10 or more yards since 2017, with 103 on his 626 carries.
(Courtesy of WhatsOnDraftNFL)
Games watched: Washington 2018, UCLA 2018, Oregon 2019, BYU 2019, Texas 2019, Washington 2019
Moss is a big back who runs big. Power likely delivered most of the missed tackles mentioned above.
(The defender who initiated contact at the goal line remained down after that play.)
But Moss also displays enviable balance and a go-to spin move.
As you can see in that last run, in particular, Moss also presents some agility. He doesn’t come close to Clyde Edwards-Helaire in that area, but the Utah back does more than just thunder ahead.
It’ll be interesting to see which tests Moss does at his pro day. He worked through a hamstring injury on his vertical jump, which came before the disappointing 4.65-second 40. Moss also skipped the broad jump and 3-cone drill.
Moss’ receiving usage was inconsistent across his Utah career. He lined up out wide a few times in the games I watched, but never ran downfield WR routes from those spots. The catches I saw were all short-range, typical RB routes. But he looked fluid in those opportunities.
Moss also looks willing, aware and capable as a pass-blocker. Indeed, PFF said he consistently graded above-average in that category. Fantasy owners would obviously like to see him catching passes instead of blocking rushers in those situations, but that ability can only help to get a young back onto the field more.
The biggest knock on Moss right now is speed. You can see in watching him that he’ll never win in that area. I’ll be curious to see if he can improve on the 4.65 at his Pro Day, though. Even when you add his size to that 31st-percentile 40 time, Moss gets to just a 45th-percentile speed score.
The tackle-breaking background is nice. Moss looks, though, like a back capable of leveraging a positive situation -- not a player capable of significantly outplaying his surroundings in the NFL.
The spate of injuries seems worth noting. Will Moss’ bruising style keep him nicked up through the early part of his pro career? That certainly seems possible.
All told, Moss ranked a solid 6th among his draft class in PPR points per game in 2019. The right landing spot could make him a late Round 1 target in dynasty rookie drafts.