DE Kyle Moore led the Trojans in sacks last year with five
Five members of the stifling USC Trojans defense were taken among the first 104 players off the board in the 2009 NFL Draft, including such nationally-recognized stars-in-waiting as Brian Cushing and Clay Matthews.
The 117th player drafted was also a USC defender: defensive end Kyle Moore, who went to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers midway through the first round. Moore may not have gotten as much pre-draft attention as Cushing, Matthews or Rey Maualuga, but his importance to that 2008 USC defense was not lost on his teammates or coaches.
A 6-5, 272 pass-rusher with an enormous wingspan and a nonstop motor, Moore was named USC's Most Inspirational Player in 2008. That was the result of his fine play despite a preseason knee ailment that required arthroscopic surgery, but it also spoke to his production on the field. Despite often being asked to occupy multiple blockers so the Trojans' dangerous linebackers could shoot into the backfield, Moore still led the team with a career-high five sacks.
The Buccaneers were obviously sold on Moore, trading up three spots in the fourth round just to make sure they didn't miss their chance to add the young pass-rusher to a defense that is looking for an infusion of D-Line talent. The Bucs were scheduled to pick 120th but gave up a seventh-round pick (#229 overall) to Dallas in order to move into position to take Moore.
Over four seasons with the Trojans, Moore played in 50 games and started 24. He 24 of 26 games at right end over the last two seasons, recording seven sacks during that span. In all, Moore finished his collegiate career with 76 tackles, seven sacks, 13 tackles for loss, eight passes defensed, two interceptions, one forced fumble and four fumble recoveries.
An all-conference honorable mention in 2008, Moore recorded 30 tackles and those team-leading five sacks. In 2007, he added two interceptions to his two sacks and career-best 35 tackles.
Moore is the first USC player the Buccaneers have drafted since taking safety David Gibson in the sixth round in 2000, and the ninth overall Trojan the franchise has picked since 1976. He and 2007 first-rounder Gaines Adams are the only two ends the Bucs have selected over the past three drafts.
Tampa Bay was looking for depth and players that will compete for starting jobs at the end position. Though Adams returns for a third season, the team currently does not have last year's starting left end, Kevin Carter, on the roster.
The Buccaneers have three picks remaining in the 2009 draft after their most recent trade. They will choose once in Round Five and then twice more in Round Seven.