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NAPA – Sio Moore made a bold prediction after the NFL Draft. Despite being taken by the Raiders No. 66 overall, the standout from UConn said he would become the best linebacker of that class.
“No, I said I am the best,” Moore said. “I am.”
Moore won’t backtrack, not one bit.
The Raiders sure hope he’s right. They’re counting on the 23-year old rookie to play right away at strong side linebacker, giving him the first-team reps required to earn a starting spot.
Moore has his rookie moments – he had a few during Monday’s practice – but he has all the physical tools to backup his assertion.
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Take the quote at face value and it seems pretty cocky. Talk to Moore for any length of time and realize he’s anything but.
He understands the value of hard work, doesn’t take his lot for granted and respects his elders.
Moore’s a sponge around established vets like Charles Woodson and Andre Carter, soaking up wisdom to accelerate his NFL acclimation process.
“Man, they’ve given us some really good speeches as we go into our team meetings,” Moore said. “Some of that stuff it raises the hair on your skin because you can see a lot of passion, you can see that dedication oozes out of those guys.”
Moore will have to stay focused to be ready for a tough regular season. A starting spot is far from given, but he has a chance to take charge at strongside linebacker with Kaluka Maiava out with injury.
Moore has shown an ability to set an edge, rush the passer and cover when required, a rare rookie who’s a complete package selected outside the first round. He’s impressed at every stage, throughout the offseason and into training camp’s early going.
Coach Dennis Allen has offered praise, yet avoided heaping doses that can inflate a rookie’s ego and consequently hinder his progress.
“He’s still working a couple of different positions, but I’ve been impressed with the way he’s gone about his business,” Allen said. “I think he’s going to be a good player for us.”
The first-team reps say more than words ever could. That’s how Moore knows what’s expected of him this season. It’s added a sense of urgency to his proceedings through camp.
“If you’re in the NFL and have an opportunity to play, there should be an urgency and an expectation you should have on yourself as well as the guys around you,” Moore said. “The biggest thing with me, I don’t feel pressure. There’s a bunch of veteran guys around and they’re on me about continuing to work and to keep building on each play. As long as I take it upon myself to get better every day, everything is going to work out for itself.”