Raiders Draft Profile: Tight End Foster Moreau

On day three of the draft, the Oakland Raiders turned in the card to select LSU Tight End Foster Moreau with the 137th overall pick. Head Coach Jon Gruden then picked up the phone and gave the newest member of the Silver & Black the call, which was wonderfully captured by Raiders’ official digital production team.

My favorite part of the call is when Gruden asks Moreau, “you wear that number 18 for a reason, right?” There was rhetoric involved with that question. You see, wearing “18” for LSU carries a tradition of being a high character player that commands respect in the locker room. Moreau joins a Raiders draft class full of players that carry those same traits, which was clearly a factor (along with their talent) in Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock’s decisions to select the players that they did.

Speaking of talent, Moreau has it. Let’s discuss.

Lunch Pail Mentality

When you turn on the film, Moreau’s effort is always on display. A word that’s often used in football is “finish”, and he exhibits that mentality every play, every game.

Moreau was often asked to stay in-line as a run blocker in LSU’s smash mouth offense, as PFF logged him with an incredible 506 run-block snaps in 2018. I was pleasantly surprised with his functional strength when he’d take on defenders, while also being able to find an angle to move the man he was responsible for out of the play. I thought he was exceptional when he was able to get out on the move, as LSU would draw up plays where they could utilize his athleticism to block into the second level of the defense.

Moreau’s pass blocking is also a plus. He was part of a lot of double teams against edge rushers, mostly featuring an OT either by his side or right behind him as insurance when he’d engage. I came away feeling good about the way he held his own in those situations.

What’s interesting about Moreau is that some of his best games were ones where he was basically non-existent as a receiver, as that’s how impactful he was in the trenches. His snaps against Ole Miss are a prime example of that, as he finished with one catch for nine yards, but I felt he was dominant. He set the tone all game long as a run blocker, laying the wood over and over again. The regularity in which he drove defenders downfield and to the ground was fun to watch.

Potential as a Receiver

When you assess Moreau as a pass catcher, a lot of it is based on traits. He had some nice moments, some flashes, but those occasions weren’t enough. He just wasn’t in the right offense in college for this part of his game to develop, as tight ends that were drafted as early as the first round were consistently given those opportunities.

One thing that isn’t a trait, but more of a fact, are his hands. Per PFF, Moreau hauled in 81.5% of the balls that came his way and finished with an 82.1 receiving grade in 2018. The catch that comes to mind this year was against Florida as he was running an underneath route and snagged a ball that was thrown behind him with one hand, turned upfield, didn’t shy from contact and picked up 15 yards. I use that moment as an example because it showed a little bit of everything that I like about Moreau’s potential as a receiver – natural catching ability, athleticism, physicality, and effort.

How Does He Fit in Gruden’s Offense?

First off, Moreau fits the “Gruden Grinder” mold to a T. Everything I’ve written already speaks to that.

I think Gruden wants a tight end that’s more on the traditional side. That’s different from a player like Jared Cook, which is fine, as he was utilized as a premiere option in the pass game last season. Now, though, Gruden has Antonio Brown, Tyrell Williams and company that should get the bulk of the targets moving forward. This allows a player like Moreau to be put in a position where he will mostly handle the dirty work – run block, pass block, deliver hefty chips to edge rushers. And when defenses lose track of him, I think Moreau will surprise as a complimentary receiver with real upside.

Also, at 6’5”, 250+ pounds, Carr’s newest tight end supplies him with a big frame in the red zone. We all know #4 is willing to give his guys a chance in 50/50 situations and Moreau has the body to handle the bumps from defenders, plus the reliable hands to haul it in.

The biggest question for Moreau in 2019 will be the competition he’s facing. Sure, the Raiders cut Lee Smith, but Moreau will still have to battle it out in training camp with the likes of Luke Willson, Derek Carrier, Darren Waller, and Paul Butler. Waller is the member of the group that I could see earning a role in pass obvious situations, but the other three all have blocking ability and Moreau will need to prove he belongs among the bunch. It’ll be a challenge, but I’m excited to see how it plays out.

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