In the NFL today, offenses are using the tight end with more prevalence and creativity than ever before. Tight ends aren’t blocking as much as they used to, but they are moving down the field, using their size and strength against defensive backs to gain leverage, and speed to beat linebackers, and offenses are taking advantages of these mis-matches. Just look at Rob Gronkowski, Jimmy Graham, Vernon Davis, and even the ageless Tony Gonzalez.
The antidote for that is excellent play from safeties. They are faster than linebackers, and while they may not be asked or able to fill the holes in the run game exactly the same way linebackers are, they are increasingly needed to play big and make plays in the run game. The harder the hitting a safety is, the better.
Oh, don’t forget that safeties also have the first and foremost role of playing the last line of defense for receivers going down the field. If the safety doesn’t make the play, nobody will.
With how versatile tight ends are becoming, safeties are asked to take on increasing responsibilities in nearly every aspect of a football game. If you have one of these safeties, you can be that much better and more creative defensively. That’s exactly the type of player that William Moore has become for the Falcons.
A 2009 2nd round draft pick, Moore has shown flashes especially in 2010 & 2011. He has shown the ability to hit really hard in both run support and in coverage, showing ability to separate the receiver/ball carrier from the ball. He can drop into a deep zone coverage, and pick off passes. He can cover the tight end. He can also get after the passer from a safety blitz as we saw him bring down Peyton Manning for a sack. In short, in the game against Denver, we saw William Moore do absolutely everything.
The NFC South has two very good tight ends in the Falcons’ Tony Gonzalez, and New Orleans Jimmy Graham. How did the Buccaneeers respond? They used their first round pick on a strong safety out of Alabama, Mark Barron, who performed all of the aforementioned roles in college. It really highlights the importance of good safety play in an NFL that is increasingly using the tight end to bust out offensively.
Moore has been injured in the past, and that certainly held him back as he missed a game here and a game there. If he stays healthy and continues to play the way he did against the Denver Broncos, he can be an elite player in the Falcons’ secondary for years to come.