Former Virginia offensive lineman Morgan Moses describes life since his college football career ended as “hectic.” He trained in Atlanta, wowed scouts in Mobile, Ala., and Indianapolis, continued to pursue his degree in Charlottesville and even managed to surprise the people who always believed his NFL dreams would come true.
“It’s been crazy . . . in school and flying all over the place, going here then there,” Moses said this week. “It’s funny because my friends will say, ‘You were just at the house. How were you on TV in California?’ It’s just a testament to how much I’ve been doing.”
The whirlwind tour around the country worked. Even though Virginia stumbled to a 2-10 record this past season, Moses will be one of 30 prospects who are in New York Thursday night when the 2014 NFL draft begins and the consensus is the Richmond native won’t have to wait long to hear his name called by commissioner Roger Goodell.
With the ability to line up all over the offensive line — he played left tackle as a senior, right tackle as a junior and began his Virginia career at guard — there’s a good chance Moses will be a first-round pick like former Cavaliers offensive linemen D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Branden Albert and Eugene Monroe.
The common thread among those names, according to Virginia Coach Mike London, is “ginormous,” even though Moses has slimmed down to 313 pounds and is “in the best shape of my life” after struggling with his weight at times in college.
Virginia has had at least one player selected in the NFL draft every year since 1984.
“I remember when he was here, people said he couldn’t make it here. He couldn’t make it academically,” London said of Moses, who went to a year of prep school at Fork Union Military Academy after high school and will graduate with a degree in anthropology later this month. “Mo has a great story.”
Moses earned second team all-ACC honors from the league’s coaches in 2013, allowing just two sacks on 506 pass attempts. He graded out at better than 90 percent in every game and followed it up with an impressive week of practices at the Senior Bowl. He reportedly had individual workouts with 13 NFL teams, and could be of interest for the Washington Redskins with the No. 34 pick if he slips out of the first round.
“They’re getting a guy that’s been able to play multiple positions and has over 40 career starts with no injuries, so you’re talking about a guy that has longevity,” Moses said.
But he won’t be the only prospect who played college football in the state of Virginia at Radio City Music Hall Thursday night.
The stock of Virginia Tech cornerback Kyle Fuller has risen dramatically in recent months, even though a core muscle injury prevented the Baltimore native from contributing in the final five games of the 2013 season and kept him out of the Senior Bowl.
But in a family full of football players — Fuller’s older brother, wide receiver Corey Fuller, was a sixth-round pick by the Detroit Lions a year ago; his eldest brother, Vincent, spent seven years in the NFL as a defensive back; and younger brother Kendall (Good Counsel) is a rising sophomore cornerback at Virginia Tech — Kyle might just outshine all of them.
After clocking a 4.49-second 40-yard dash time at the NFL Combine in February, it has become increasingly likely Fuller will be the first Virginia Tech cornerback selected in the first round since DeAngelo Hall in 2004. Scouts are enamored with his sure tackling and instincts.
“Kyle Fuller is one of my favorite players in the whole draft,” NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said last week. “Fuller is my No. 1 corner, a first-round corner. He has it in his DNA.”
There is no such certainty when it comes to former Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas. The 6-foot-6, 260-pound Lynchburg native is perhaps the most impressive specimen among this year’s signal callers, but his accuracy and decision making remain concerns.
After being mentioned as a potential top-10 pick following a breakout sophomore campaign, Thomas will more than likely fall past the second round this weekend. His long-term future at the position will also be interesting to watch.
“Just hasn’t come along as a passer, a consistent passer,” ESPN analyst Jon Gruden said of Thomas, who nonetheless holds every major quarterback record in Virginia Tech history. “He had his ups and downs at the Senior Bowl. It was clear it wasn’t consistent. And when you’re not consistent at the quarterback position, you’re going to be downgraded and I think that’s why Logan Thomas is where he is in terms of the draft boards. . . .
When you stand next to him and look at him and watch him run around, you can see he has the ability to play a number of positions. Somebody with a creative offensive mind will get him and hopefully get the best out of him.”
Former Virginia Tech defensive end James Gayle and cornerback Antone Exum are also expected to be mid-round selections in this year’s draft. Gayle’s athleticism could turn him into an outside linebacker in the NFL. Exum, who missed most of the 2013 season due to knee and ankle injuries, has the versatility to play both safety and cornerback.
In addition, Mayock said Virginia defensive tackle Brent Urban likely won’t last beyond the fourth round, with NFL teams envisioning him as a defensive end in a 3-4 scheme.
Virginia Tech linebacker Jack Tyler (Oakton) and defensive end J.R. Collins (Brooke Point), as well as Virginia offensive lineman Luke Bowanko (Centreville), are among the players that could be late-round selections or sign as undrafted free agents once the draft is complete.