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INDIANAPOLIS — Riley Moss is, in many ways, just like all the other cornerbacks at this week’s NFL Scouting Combine. He’s not fully polished and comes with questions because his man-coverage technique needs work and his durability has been an issue. And he’s never seen receivers like DK Metcalf, Deebo Samuel and DeAndre Hopkins on consecutive weeks.
Moss is also different than most cornerbacks in some respects. He’s 6-foot-1, which is big for his position. He’s a fifth-year senior so he’s got more experience than most of the other players at his position.
And he’s white.
A white cornerback.
The draft’s only white cornerback.
“Obviously I look different,” Moss said Thursday. “I don’t play different. I’m obviously one of one. But at the same time, it doesn’t really affect me, and sometimes, like the earlier question, teams will see me out there and they’ll throw the ball towards my way.”
White NFL Cornerbacks Have Become Rare
No NFL team has faced a full-time white cornerback or employed a full-time starting white cornerback since Jason Sehorn who retired at the end of the 2003 season.
Yes, Julian Edelman played in the secondary at times for the New England Patriots later on. But Edelman was a wide receiver stuck in the Bill Belichick I’m-smarter-than-everybody vortex. He wasn’t a cornerback.
Washington’s Troy Apke was converted from safety to cornerback in 2021 and that made him the league’s first while cornerback in 18 years. But he never started a game at the position and was released in 2022.
However one views the cornerback forays by Edelman and Apke, it’s fair to say white corners are like white elephants. They don’t exist as far as the last generation of NFL fans are concerned.
But here’s Moss out of the Iowa football program trying to change that.
Riley Moss Has Met Multiple NFL Teams
He’s met with multiple teams while here as he tries to live up to the expectations of being selected anywhere from the fourth-round on in the April draft.
He’s met with the Buffalo Bills.
“I’ve met with them,” he said. “They’ve got Micah [Hyde], a former Iowa DB. So, they seem like an awesome organization. You know, that’s up there on my list. And I’ve met with them. I met with him down in Mobile at the Senior Bowl as well this week. Informal this past week.”
He’s met with the 49ers. And they don’t think of Moss as a safety.
“Corner,” Moss said. “But also being able to play the nickel position wherever they really needed me at. But most of most teams have been saying corner.
“Every team I’ve talked to said we think you can play corner. Asked about safety, asked about nickel. Obviously, you want to be able to play all positions. But for the most part every team has said, we think you can play corner.”
If that’s surprising, such is the life of the rare white cornerback who meets plenty of disbelief from opponents. Take Moss’s first collegiate outing against Minnesota.
He stepped on the field, a freshman, inexperienced, and lacking a tan of any sort, and it was as if he had a bulls-eye on his jersey.
“It’s happened,” Moss said. “They tried me on a deep ball five or six times. I got two picks that game so I like when they’re doubting me. It’s great fuel to the fire and I think that makes it the best part is you know there’s so much opportunity.”
Moss actually wants team to throw at him even if it’s because of his skin color.
“Absolutely,” he said. “Let’s go. Throw me the ball. So, I think it works out in my advantage.”
Moss Needs Work In Multiple Areas
NFL Network draft analyst Lance Zierlein says Moss has critical factors that are NFL worthy but there are issues.
“An instinctive cornerback with good size and play strength, Moss will need to prove he has the speed and durability needed for the next level,” Zierlein said. “He has issues recovering quickly when beaten from press or at route breaks.
“Ball-hawking instincts and soft hands are a big part of his game, as is his physicality at the catch point and as a tackler. He has CB 3 or 4 potential in a zone-based defense, but could find reps at safety in the future if a team believes he has the frame for it.”
Moss is scheduled to work out here just like all the other athletes and he expects to impress in the 40-yard dash
“4.38,” he said of his goal for a 40 time. “Hopefully I can get faster than that. But, that’s my goal. If I run 4.38 I can come away happy.”