Let’s take a moment to reflect on the season that Knowshon Moreno had in 2013. After the Denver Broncos selected Wisconsin RB Montee Ball in the second-round of last year’s draft, it was assumed that Denver had all but given up on Moreno who had underperformed since entering the league in 2009.
Moreno’s scouting report stated the only part of his game that was NFL-caliber was his pass blocking and that he was a mediocre runner at best. Moreno wasn’t even necessarily a lock to make the Broncos’ 53-man roster before the season but sneaked on as the team’s third back behind Ball and Ronnie Hillman.
But when Ball and Hillman experienced troubles holding onto the ball early in the season, it was Moreno who Denver called upon to provide stability. He took his opportunity and ran with it (pun intended), becoming the Broncos’ do-it-all back they thought they were drafting when they scooped Ball.
Moreno’s top-notch pass blocking continued, but for the first time in his NFL career he seriously impressed with the ball in his hands as well. He rushed for over 1,000 yards and ten touchdowns while providing a viable pass-catching threat out of the backfield as well. Moreno was one of the most consistent backs throughout the year and finished as a borderline top-5 player at the position.
With Moreno hitting free agency this offseason, his 2013 campaign has boosted him to the top of the running back pool. Being a borderline top-5 back, he’ll surely expect to be compensated like one by whoever shows interest in the former Georgia Bulldog. Teams would be wise to pass on Moreno and his now rather large price tag.
Moreno’s 2013 explosion was clearly in large part due to the Broncos’ historically great offense. Moreno was blessed with arguably the greatest quarterback of all time, three of the league’s top wideouts and one of its emerging young stars in tight end Julius Thomas. The Denver air attack spread the defense vertically and provided Moreno with tons of wiggle room; he was never the focus of opposing defense’s gameplan.
While Moreno is obviously a decent runner, I’m inclined to say that nearly any back in the league could have logged respectable stats with the type of season that the Broncos had on offense. Moreno’s 2013 was simply the product of a great quarterback and fantastic line, nothing more. He rarely created plays for himself and didn’t gain significant yards after contact.
Prior to last season, Moreno averaged only 4.0 YPC, mainly as a backup, over his four years in the league. He had never eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark and wasn’t a concern in the pass game. Moreno was largely considered a bust before coming out of the woodwork this season to boost his price in free agency.
So don’t fall for it, NFL front offices. Moreno is nothing more than a sham, and whoever ends up with him will have likely already signed him to a multiyear deal by the time they realize that. Anywhere but in Denver, Moreno is just a timeshare back with limited potential to ascend to much more than that.