If you like your running backs physical, you'll love Zack Moss. Throughout his four years at Utah, Moss developed a reputation for being a tough, strong runner that was tough to bring down. Defenders would regularly have to gang up on him to tackle him, and even then, he'd plow forward for every yard he could. Moss also had good acceleration to skip past slower front-seven defenders, helping him clinch a rushing average just above 6.0 in his final two seasons. Injuries have taken a toll on Moss, who's 22 years old, but he's one of the most fun players to watch in this year's draft class.
Numbers to Know
Height: 5-9 3/8
Weight: 223 pounds
DOB: Dec. 15, 1997 (Week 1 age: 22)
Hand: 9 1/4 inches
Arm: 31 1/4 inches
Wingspan: 75 1/2 inches
40 time: 4.65 seconds
2019: 13 games, 235 carries, 1,416 yards, 6.0 yards per carry, 15 touchdowns; 28 receptions, 388 receiving yards, two receiving touchdowns
Moss played two games against ranked competition in 2019 (Oregon and Arizona State). He totaled 212 yards on 44 carries with two touchdowns and added 135 receiving yards on seven grabs with another score. Moss had over 160 total yards in each.
Career: 45 games, 712 carries, 4,067 yards, 5.7 yards per carry, 38 touchdowns; 66 receptions, 685 receiving yards, three receiving touchdowns
Known Injury History
minor ankle injuries, Sept. 2018
meniscus surgery, Nov. 2018
left AC joint separation, Sept. 2019
hamstring strain, March 2020
Moss is a yards-after-contact machine with the kind of lateral agility that makes defenders look silly. Blessed with a strong, compact body with thick arms and legs, Moss uses great power and balance to barrel through arm tackles and leave defenders in the dust. He's also got cuts and spin moves straight out of video games to leverage against opponents. Every single physical trait you'd look for in a running back — stiff-arms, running to contact, fighting forward (and even diving) for extra yards — Moss has it. Pro Football Focus has him ranked eighth in yards after contact (1,042) and second in missed tackles forced (87) in all of college football in 2019.
Not only is Moss tough and strong, but he's also pretty fast. There isn't any wasted time moving up in gears once Moss gets the ball in his hands, accelerating through wide and narrow lanes to out-pace defenders. Moss' vision is fantastic -- he does a nice job following his blocks. That helps him win the edge on outside runs just as well as he can slalom through defenders to turn a small gain into a larger one. Missing the tackle on Moss could end up costing defenses six points.
Moss wasn't known as a dominant receiver at Utah but he effortlessly caught the ball out of the backfield. When NFL coaches scheme him up to make plays in space, he'll be even more dangerous against unsuspecting defenders. He's also flashed the potential to be a good pass protector. He's not known for either of these skills, but that doesn't mean he stinks at them or cannot possibly do them.
Can Moss hold up in the NFL, especially since he dealt with ankle, knee and shoulder issues over his past two college seasons. He even strained a hamstring during the combine. There's a difference between powering through Pac-12 linebackers and NFL linebackers. Can Moss keep pulverizing defenders at the pro level?
Breakaway speed is also an issue. Jonathan Taylor and D'Andre Swift have more evidence on film of separating with speed than Moss does. As good of a yards creator he was at Utah, can Moss create breakaway runs where he won't get caught from behind?
Moss ran a lot of routes on third downs at Utah and wasn't asked to pass block a lot. There is evidence on film of him actually being a solid blocker on running plays, but it's still a concept that must be proven before an NFL team lets him regularly on the field on third downs. Speaking of blocking, what if he ends up on a roster with poor run blockers. Can he successfully create yards behind a bad offensive line?
Lastly, he's 22 years old (23 in December), so the clock's already ticking on his career.
Moss reminds me a lot of Doug Martin, right down to the size, strength and most of the traits. But even if Moss landed a starting gig right out of the draft, it would be bonkers to suggest he'd be as prolific as Martin was as a rookie — 1,926 total yards and 12 touchdowns. It seems extremely unlikely Moss will find a spot where he'd get 368 touches, but if he had the good fortune of landing 220 touches at Martin's pace he'd have in the neighborhood of 1,150 yards. Maybe that's optimistic too, but it's possible IF his skill set gets matched up with a good opportunity. At the very least, know that Moss is capable of multiple 1,150-yard seasons over his career provided his health cooperates.
Favorite Fantasy Fits
It just so happens that Bruce Arians has a pretty steady track record of leaning on running backs who pull up at 220 pounds or so and can play three downs. Moss has the size, and if he can prove he can block, he could be the engine of the Tampa Bay offense as long as he stays on the field - that was Ronald Jones' issue last season. That would be a lot of fun. If Moss were to end up in a tandem, which is more likely, teams like the Chiefs, Falcons and Chargers could result in nice numbers sooner than later.
Fantasy Bottom Line
Moss' age and injury history knock him down most running back prospect rankings, but his potential to contribute meaningfully does offer hope for 2020 impact. He's got a real shot at being a top-120 pick in seasonal leagues depending on which team takes him. He almost certainly will get taken close to a top-100 pick in dynasty/keeper start-ups and will be a top-18 pick in rookie-only drafts.