Caught up with former UCLA safety Rahim Moore over the weekend to talk about the upcoming NFL Draft. Moore is the top-rated safety prospect, according to ESPN draft gurus Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay. The first round of the NFL Draft begins Thursday at 5 p.m. PT.
How hectic have the last few months been for you?
Rahim Moore: It's definitely different than how it was coming out of high school. I don't have all of the distractions. I have things in order, man. I have the right people in my life. It hasn't been as stressful as other people think.
Coming out of high school, you were the one that chose where you wanted to go. Now it's not up to you, really. What's the uncertainty been like?
That's probably the coolest part because you don't know where you're going. You have to impress (teams) instead of them impressing you. That phase I leave all to God. I put that in his hands because I can't control any of that. The only thing I can control is my hard work, dedication and off-the-field characteristics. All I can control is my behavior, how hard I work and telling these teams that if they pick me up they'll get the same player that Rick Neuheisel got.
Do you have an expectation or feeling of where you'll get drafted?
I've heard from 18th [overall] to 34th, something along that range. But I think I might end up being a late first-rounder. I believe somebody might pick me up. I highly doubt that I'll be a top-15 pick, but I believe my range can be in the 20's to the late first.
You mentioned a few months back that you were hoping to make the trip to New York. Is that still the plan?
Yeah, I'll be in New York.
Know what you're wearing yet?
Should I tell you or should I make it a surprise?
How about a little glimpse of what we can expect?
One thing about these type of events, the best thing you can do is keep it simple. You don't want to do too much. It's not about what you're wearing but who's wearing it. I'm going out there with a nice, simple black suit. I'm going to have a three-piece on with a black vest, a peach shirt with a Miami orange tie and some nice black shoes. I'm going to keep it simple, you know. I'm going to have my mohawk nice and fresh. All-black would look good on anybody, in my opinion.
I'm sure you've been keeping in touch with Akeem Ayers. What's it been like to experience this process together?
It's funny, man. I met that dude my freshman year [of high school]. He's one of the top prospects in the entire draft. That boy, he's just so happy. Akeem just wants to get picked up and get to work. That's the type of guy he is. I don't think he cares about where he's going or what pick. He just wants to be a first-rounder, which he is. It'd be a blessing if me and him were both first-round draft picks because UCLA hasn't had one since [Jaguars tight end] Marcedes Lewis. I think me and Akeem will set the standard.
A lot of people have you as the top safety in this draft. If I'm an NFL general manager, give me your pitch and tell me why I should make you my first-round pick.
If you make Rahim your first-round pick, you won't have to worry about the safety position for the next 10 years. I'm going to be a guy that you won't have to worry about off the field. I'm going to be a guy that will put in a lot of community service. I'm going to be a guy that not only will better myself, but I'm going to make guys around me better. A football player has to be a great locker room guy. I won't be a cancer to the team. I'm going to be a prime example of what hard work and dedication is. I'm going to be 105 percent committed every day. I've been doing this since Pop Warner. I've done it in high school. I've done it in college. I'm not going to get to the NFL and stop. I'm not going to be another statistic where he gets to the NFL and just loses it. I'm not going to lose it.
I don't think I saw you out one time in the three years we went to UCLA together. Not once outside of Spaulding Field or Bruin Walk.
Yeah, man. I believe in The 48 Laws of Power. The less you're seen, the less they can say about you. The more you're seen, the more they can say about you. It's not that I don't go out, but I'm very selective. I don't like going to places where everybody will be. When you're in the public eye you have to watch what you do. People are always watching. At UCLA there were sometimes when I went out but a lot of times I was at Spaulding or at the track running miles. I was down in the film room until midnight. I was in my room praying or doing push ups. I was putting in that extra work, you know. A lot of my teammates would drag me out of the house just to go to BJ's Restaurant.
Any endorsement talks?
I haven't had any, not that I know of. I don't want to speak too soon, but I don't have a lot of interest from people right now. That's fine. I can't knock them. I figure that once I make plays that those things will come. I'm not really focusing on that much because I know I can be a good brand for whatever. I'm just trying to get drafted. I know once that happens, things might start coming my way.
Which team or teams would you love to play for? You must have had a favorite growing up...
Man, I love every team in the NFL. (Laughs) Any team that picks me up will be my favorite team of all time. But, really, I grew up being a Buccaneers fans. I loved Warren Sapp, Shawn Lynch, Simeon Rice, Ronde Barber. Man, those were my favorite players growing up. They were the reason why I wanted to play defense. Derrick Brooks is one of my favorite linebackers. I always watched the Cowboys. Who's not a Cowboys fan? They had some great players -- Deion Sanders, Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin. Those guys were the show. I grew up watching the Steelers and Rod Woodson. Lots of teams. But whoever takes me will be my favorite, no doubt.
Your name gets called on Thursday. How will you express your joy?
Honestly, no lie, I might fall out. No lie, someone better have a stretcher right by my table. I'm going to think back on everything growing up, people that told me I wouldn't be anything in life. Some of my teachers would tell me I would be another statistic coming out of Los Angeles. Some said I was too small or too skinny to play this game. I'm going to think back on those times and how bad those words hurt me. I'm also going to think about the things I've seen growing up. It's always been a dream. Dreams are for real. I'll be speechless, man. I'll be speechless.