By now, Kellen Moore knows the drill.

The promising young quarterback with staggering, mind-boggling statistics enters a new phase of his football career only to be defined by the fact that, at the end of the day, he still only stands 6 feet tall.

Don't bother asking Moore if he figures things would be different if he had a couple extra inches of height at his disposal -- if he were only 6-2 or 6-3 -- would that make a difference?

Doesn't matter, he'd say, falling back on a line that he tends to revert to when he's asked all of that what-if type of questions.

It is what it is.

But before you cast Kellen Moore into the "what you see is what you get" category, forget about the fact that he's a 6-foot NFL rookie trying to make a go of it in a league in which nearly all of his quarterbacking counterparts are literally head and shoulders above where the former Boise State star stands.

Just forget about it -- because Moore did a long time ago.

"It's not some shocking new thing," Moore says, standing in front of his locker at the Detroit Lions' training facility.


That's right. Kellen Moore has been here before.

Before Moore traveled from his hometown of Prosser, Wash., to Boise State, where he established a new NCAA record with 50 career victories and where he threw for 14,677 yards and 142 touchdowns while winning all but three of the games he started in four years, he was passed over.

His lone offers came from Idaho and Eastern Washington. He was offered a tryout at Oregon State only to learn after he had driven 278 miles that the Beavers were only interested in quarterbacks that stood 6-foot-2 or taller.
Moore took another tryout -- this one at Boise State -- where the characteristics that are often linked to him began to overshadow the fact he is undersized. Coaches called him cerebral and smart. They liked the way he prepared and the way he could absorb hits.

Moore quickly converted doubters to believers.

"As far as quarterbacks go, he's the toughest one I've ever been around. The kid has taken some hits and he bounces right back up," former Boise State quarterbacks coach Bryan Harsin told the Detroit Free Press.

"You're just thinking there's no way in hell he's going to survive that, he's going to come out, and he's right back in the game."

So perhaps, that's why when Moore was overlooked again -- this time in last month's NFL Draft, the episode didn't unravel the 6-foot over-achiever.
Kellen Moore has been here before.


Moore watched the draft at his parents' home back in Prosser. Despite the 50-3 record, despite the 24 straight wins he strung together with the Broncos and despite remaining in the Heisman Trophy conversation for four straight years, Moore wasn't expected to pop up on a lot of team's radars.

Draft gurus like Mel Kiper, Jr., pegged Moore as a late-round draft pick at best. As the hours turned into days and the waiting game continued, Moore continued to be passed over. This was nothing new, but unlike his transition from high school to college, waiting to hear his name called in the NFL Draft was an experience Moore calls unique.

"Certainly all of us have dreams, being a football player and most of us would love to go to the NFL, would love to be drafted," Moore says. "But not all of your dreams happen and things happen in funny ways."

Moore didn't bother watching the end of the draft. By the end of the sixth round, he was having phone conversations with teams who wanted to bring him into an NFL rookie camp as an undrafted free agent.

The snub seemed to motivate Moore, who said immediately he'd be the most motivated quarterback out there.

Again, experts claimed Moore wasn't big enough to make it in the NFL and that his shoulder wasn't strong enough.

Moore, who by now has gotten used to the process, paid the personal assessment no mind.

"You don't worry about it too much -- it is what it is," Moore says. "You've got the people around you and you value their input and that's your family and your teammates and that's about it."

But somewhere along the way, there had to be one comment, one crack that Moore posted on his mental bulletin board, motivating him to keep pressing on.

Moore smiles at the suggestion and shrugs his shoulders.

"Nah," he says. "You've got enough things on your hands that you don't have time for those types of things."


The Lions already have a franchise quarterback in Matthew Stafford, whose locker is located just to the right of the cubicle where Moore's helmet, with his name written on a strip of white athletic tape, hangs.

There's no guarantee of whether Detroit will keep a third quarterback on its roster as an insurance policy for Stafford and veteran back-up Shaun Hill. But even without the size and shoulder strength, there was something Lions' executives saw when they evaluated Moore as a potential addition to their 53-man roster.

"This guy's a very talented, very cerebral quarterback," Lions general manager Martin Mayhew said in a recent Detroit radio interview. "He anticipates things really well. That's the thing our scouts and coaches really talked about."

It's all stuff Moore has heard before.

By now, he's grown tired of the underdog story, one he seemingly finds his way into the middle of -- first at Boise State and now while he's trying to make the jump to the NFL.

He had just completed his first rookie camp workout when the fact he was again passed over was brought up. He smiled, his face partly covered by his trademark shaggy hair and shrugged his shoulders.

"All that stuff about not being drafted and being overlooked," Moore says, "I think that's passed us now."

He talked about how great of an opportunity he had in Detroit. He gushed about getting the chance to learn and develop under Stafford and Hill. But then came the question about his declaration that no one would be more motivated to prove people wrong than any one else trying to make an NFL squad.

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Another smile. Another shrug of the shoulders.

"I don't know," he says. "The bottom line is you're very excited about the opportunity here and you quickly realize how great a place this is."

Ask Moore how long it's been since he didn't go into a season as his team's starting quarterback and the smile returns.

He quickly shoves any suggestion that this somehow motivates him and he reverts back to a collection of prepared answers, claiming that each new season is a chance to work hard to improve.

But perhaps, this will be his greatest challenge, trying to again overcome the challenges of being only 6-feet-tall and armed with all of the unmeasureables that have to this point of his career helped him get past his noticeable lack of size.

His dad, Tom Moore, who coached Kellen and has won four Washington state championships, understands the size dynamic and the NFL mindset.

"Let's face it, the No. 1 job of a scout is to keep your job so you can feed your wife and kids," Tom Moore told USA Today. "If you pick a 6-5 quarterback and you make a mistake, you probably won't get fired. If you take a chance on a 6-foot quarterback, you're taking much more of a risk."

That perception of risk is accentuated by doubters like Kiper, who said in a recent teleconference that he couldn't see a point when Moore would be a starting NFL quarterback.

And once again, everything comes back to the point where this all started.

"You wish he was 6-2 -- not 6-feet even," Kiper says. "You can put weight on, but you wish he was two inches taller.

"You wish his arm strength, which has gotten better, was just a little better than it is. You wish he was a little bit better athlete than he is, and you wish he was a little bit quicker than he is."

Again, it is what it is.

"Wherever, the chips fall, they fall," Moore says.


Lions coach Jim Schwartz looks at Moore and he sees a quarterback who has played a lot of football and who succeeded on the big stage. He sees a kid who, legend has it, started diagramming plays when he was 2 and who walked around with a little notebook in his pocket to jot down notes and scribble formations onto paper and keep them for later.

Schwartz says it's much too early to determine what the future holds for Moore, who will immediately begin studying the Lions' operations as he prepares for training camp, hoping to stick. For now, Moore's size doesn't appear to be an issue with Schwartz indicates there's plenty to like about a quarterback that for the most part has grown accustomed to being overlooked.

"(The NFL) isn't too big for him," Schwartz says. "He's been in a lot of games and you see a lot of guys come through a rookie camp, you get an undrafted player, and it's big for them.

"But (Moore) is used to being a quarterback. He steps in and he's used to being the center of attention."

He's also used to making the most of what he's got to work with -- even if it comes at the expense and proving the doubters wrong. As he has in the past, Moore will ignore the knocks about his lack of size, intent on again showing he belongs -- even if others insist he doesn't.

He'll leave all of that behind, believing in himself and the experience that has brought him to this point, prepared to take the next step forward.

"Now, the bottom line is you're just playing football," Moore says. "That's all you've got to worry about. I think it's just faster football -- faster, more talented, more challenging football and there's not a lot of measurables that go into that except for just executing."

-- Email Jeff Arnold at and follow him on Twitter @jeff_arnold24.

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