Sep 8, 2012; East Hartford, CT, USA; North Carolina State Wolfpack quarterback Mike Glennon (8) is sacked by Connecticut Huskies linebacker Sio Moore (3) during the first half at Rentschler Field. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Raiders Rookie Review: Sio Moore Could be Steal of 2013 NFL Draft

Drafted at 66th overall, Sio Moore might not be the player typically expected to be one of the best defensive rookies in the NFL in his first season. Yet not many 66th overall, third round selections have the numbers and accolades that Moore has, making the outside linebacker out of UConn one of the players tapped by those around the NFL that could make an immediate impact in 2013 as a rookie.

Playing in the weakest of BCS conferences in the Big East and for a school that is more known for men’s and women’s basketball than for the gridiron, Moore’s accolades and eye popping numbers have went under the radar. From 43 career tackles for a loss with the Huskies to 7.5 sacks in his senior year, Moore did enough to make the All-Big East team twice and play in both the Shrine Game and the Senior Bowl, an event where he was coached by the Raiders.

With many obviously attributing Moore’s numbers to playing in the lowly Big East, Moore’s solid combine still couldn’t lift him into the second round. A linebacker who ran a 4.62 40 yard dash, lifted the bench press bar 29 times and posted a 38 inch vertical would usually impress scouts enough to vault high up the draft boards. Yet to the benefit of Reggie McKenzie, teams left Moore alone on draft day and the Raiders filled one of their biggest needs at the draft in adding an outside pass rusher in Moore.

Desmond Bryant, Matt Shaughnessy, and Richard Seymour‘s departures from Raider Nation have meant that McKenzie has had to attempt to find new bodies to replace players on what was already one of the league’s worst defenses for much of 2012. With adding Moore the hope is that addition of new talented blood in Moore combined with the subtraction of under performing vets will lead to a rejuvenated Raiders offense in 2013.

With no answers at the defensive end position yet for the Raiders, Moore is seemingly being counted on to be the playmaker that Oakland so desperately needs. High praise for a player who comes from a non-power conference at a school that is more famous for developing NBA lottery picks than immediate impact NFL players.

Moore did show improvement in every single one of his collegiate years and when the attention was finally given to him during the East-West game then the Senior Bowl and combine, the entire league took notice at his versatility playing off the end at UConn and matching up man to man with tight ends while being a powerful pass rusher.

The consensus on Moore is that he was a steal at the 66th pick of the NFL draft. Being tapped as the Raiders pass rusher of the future at linebacker, Moore will have to adjust to life in the NFL and the demands of versatility for every down linebackers in the pros. 11 pass breakups in his senior year show signs of positive improvement, but this training camp and preseason will tell us if we should be high on the Sio Moore era in Oakland or if we need to be a bit more patient with a guy who has played most of his football against the mediocre schools of the Big East.

Still Reggie McKenzie has put the faith in Moore to be the anchor of his outside pass rush and the future at the linebacker position. High praise for a guy who was only given an invite to the Shirne game after two straight years of All-Conference honors in a BCS conference. Sio M0ore is the rookie to watch for the 2013 Oakland Raiders, and could be one of the NFL’s breakout rookies. You heard it here.


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