Part Two of our position preview is here! Today, I am taking a look at the wide receivers returning for the black and gold in 2017.
This was a group of players that had some question marks entering the 2016 campaign and for the most part, those questions were answered… if you take out some dropped balls here and there.
The star of this group is J’Mon Moore. Moore had over 1,000 yards on the season last year (1,012 to be exact) and 8 touchdowns. He was second in the SEC in receiving yards and the leading receiver returning in the SEC since Josh Reynolds graduated from A&M. Moore is a big target (6’3”) with plenty of speed to take the top off of the defense, but has been known to drop some balls here and there. That is something he needs to fix in his final year as a tiger if he looks to make the jump to the next level. I believe he can make the jump to the NFL, as long as he makes the catches everyone knows he is capable of making. That includes showing versatility as a pass catcher, meaning plays across the field and intermediate routes, not just the vertical, take-the-top-off-of-the-defense type plays.
After Moore, the door is open for who will be the true number two. There are 4 options. It is assumed Nate Brown is back and is 100% after missing last year. He is regarded as someone who is a great route runner, pass catcher and all around receiver. If he is back to what he was pre-2016, look for him to be the one seeing most of the time opposite of Moore.
But, Mizzou has three young receivers that had nice seasons last year: Dimetrios Mason, Johnathon Johnson, and Emanuel Hall. Mason had 57 catches for 587 yards. Johnson had 24 catches for 435 yards and his speed is truly remarkable. Hall had a few flashes last year, showing that he could make the first guy miss as he had 19 catches for 307 yards.
In Heupel’s offense, a lot of the receivers are going to have those types of numbers. It is a home run, fast-paced offense with the screen game, quick pass game, and all-out vertical routes are prevalent. It will be interesting to see how these three are used this year. My guess is that Mason and Johnson see the most time out of this bunch, with Mason seeing the most as a slot receiver.
Mizzou is without a freshman wide receiver on the roster this year, so the guys above are who you will see the most with a sprinkle of Ray Wingo, in my opinion.
I expect J’Mon Moore to have another big season, somewhere between 1,100 and 1,200 yards because he and Lock seem to be on the same page most of the time. It is a question as to who will step up as the number two and number three. Nate Brown, if healthy, should get plenty of chances (he caught Lock’s first touchdown pass as a Tiger, fun fact), but will Mason or Johnson become that game breaker Mizzou has been missing in recent years? The running game should allow these receivers to see a lot of 1-on-1 coverage, so… can they beat it? Their route running has seen some criticism, so it is up to them to prove that they are not just a product of their system, but playmakers in their own right.