The Bengals get a bad wrap when it comes to taking on players with character issues even though it may be brought on by themselves from bringing in/back players like Cedric Benson, Tank Johnson, and Chris Henry, but when the Bengals acquire highly talented and mature, gentlemanly players, it seems to be put to the wayside for news on the newest Bengals arrest. The acquisitions that the Bengals have made over the last few years have been a sincere attempt to put the old days behind them, and when they sign players like former UConn WR Kashif Moore as an UDFA, it is a good sign that they are moving on from the times when they would have drafted Janoris Jenkins with one of their first three picks.
Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com has a wonderful article on the newly signed Moore and how the Bengals get a 2-for-1 deal with Moore. Moore would have likely been a second or third round pick if he were two or three inches taller and a few pounds heavier (5-9, 180), because he combine stats were better than nearly everyone, including many of the first round picks. Here is a quick overview of Moore's stats:
40-yard dash: 4.42 (8th overall)
Vertical Leap: 43.50 inches (1st overall in the entire combine)
225 lb. press: 19 times (8th overall in WR group)
Broad Jump: 10'6'' (4th overall in WR group)
With these numbers, even though his frame is a bit smaller than what is the norm for wide receivers in the NFL, it is a surprise that Moore did not get drafted at all. Bengals WR coach James Urban echoes these sentiments,
"I'm a little surprised he wasn't drafted; he's unbelievably fast," Urban says. "He brings us a different set of skills. He's a different style of player with speed being one of his big attributes."
Even though Moore would likely not be a WR for the Bengals because there will already be stiff competition between Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones for the WR2 position and Jordan Shipley and Andrew Hawkins will be fighting for the WR3 position as well. Maryland head coach Randy Edsall, the man who recruited Moore for the Huskies, thinks that even though Moore might not make a roster as a WR, he would fit in well with the Bengals as a "niche player."
Edsall thinks Moore has a shot to stick in the league as a niche player on offense and a gunner and returner on special teams.
Moore can bring a lot of speed, athleticism, and game-changing abilities to the Bengals but what sets him apart from most is not just his athleticism, but his character.
For many players, the numbers that they wear is either one that they've had since they started playing in Popwarner or it might just be one of their favorite numbers and it is a good luck charm. The number 6 holds a bit more meaning for Moore than what numbers do for most players. On October 18, 2009, Moore and his UConn teammate Jasper Howard beat Louisville in UConn's homecoming game and decided to go to a dance at the Student Center that night. A fire alarm was pulled, a fight over a girl, and second later Howard is doubled over with a stab wound to the stomach that had cut one of his main arteries and led to his death.
Being an eye-witness to your best friend's murder would be devastating and would cause many men to go off the deep end, but for Edsall, Moore was a person, not just a player, that he could count on during the rest of the season for both he and his team.
Moore was one of the rocks that Edsall could turn to steady his devastated Huskies. A military son (his father retired after 24 years as an Air Force staff sergeant) and a helper in the community who worked Mondays with middle-schoolers in what he calls the tough areas of Hartford.
Moore is a player that is mature beyond his years and has been through more than what most average people go through in a lifetime, and he has come out on the other side as a better man and a more dangerous player. Moore reflects on his play after Howard's death:
"It changed the way I play the game," Moore says of the night that changed everything. "It changed the way I live. Jazz always said you had to [go] out there and play like every play could be your last."
For Kashif Moore, this is not just a hollow statement that you might hear from a trite motivational speaker or a vapid country song, it is a powerful statement regarding his work ethic and his on-field mindset. Moore's words are not just empty gestures because his stats back them up, but he is also very confident in what his abilities can do for a team.
"I think I'm a deep threat. I want to show that I can catch, take a hit, do kick returns," Moore says of what he hopes to show in the roster numbers game.
As an UDFA, the reward for the Bengals is much greater than the risk they are taking on Moore. If Moore ends up making the final, 53-man roster it will likely be as a specialist or punt/kick returner rather than a WR, but if he makes the team, because of his abilities and character, he could be a game-changing player.
"I'm going to play every play," he says, "like it could be my last one."