INDIANAPOLIS — Though he hails from Virginia, Isaiah Moore grew up an avid Boston Red Sox fan. He idolized David Ortiz, even wearing his No. 34 in tee ball. Moore still has fond memories of Ortiz’s iconic grand slam in the 2013 American League Championship Series.
Now, as the North Carolina State linebacker prepares to embark on an NFL career, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him playing his home games a short drive away from Fenway Park.
Moore played for the New England Patriots’ coaching staff at the 2023 East-West Shrine Bowl, and he reportedly made a stellar impression at that pre-draft prospect showcase. After Moore registered a third-down pass breakup for the West Team, NFL Network analyst Bucky Brooks said New England’s coaches “couldn’t stop raving” about the 6-foot-2, 234-pound ‘backer.
“Isaiah Moore has been one of the stars of the week,” Brooks said on the Shrine Bowl broadcast. “… All week, it was about the leadership, the communication, how he took command of the huddle. He came away with rave reviews for his work this week.”
The Patriots traditionally have gravitated toward smart, experienced players with strong leadership qualities, and Moore checks both of those boxes. He was a five-year starter and three-year captain for the Wolfpack — a rarity in college football — who piled up 341 career tackles and 43 1/2 tackles for loss.
Speaking Wednesday at the NFL Scouting Combine, Moore said he also had a positive experience at the Shrine Bowl, feeling like he was able to develop a connection with New England’s defensive coaches.
“I think I had a great week out there with them,” he said. “They gave me the green dot. I was calling defense for them out there, and I built relationships out there with them. Just talking to them, I think I was able to connect with them on a good level.”
He added: “I think just my leadership ability (impressed them). It’s something I’ve had experience doing for a long time. I’ve been able to get guys lined up, get the calls in. That’s the biggest thing.
Moore described his playing style as “aggressive” and “downhill,” saying he “love(s) contact” and sees “a lot of similarities” between himself and current Patriots linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley. Those two also have something else in common: Bentley was a three-year captain at Purdue before the Patriots drafted him in the fifth round in 2018.
If New England winds up selecting Moore, it’ll likely be in a similar range.
He’s projected as a Day 3 pick or undrafted free agent, with scouting reports knocking his lack of speed and movement skills. Those same reports applaud his football IQ and intangibles, however, which NFL Media’s Lance Zierlein called “off-the-charts.” The Patriots have a history of drafting players higher than their projections (see: nearly their entire 2022 class).
“It’s hard to watch the tape and not love Moore’s game,” Zierlein wrote.