The last race that Sinorice Moss can remember running against his older brother Santana came when he was in the sixth grade and Santana was in high school. Santana, as always, gave Sinorice and their younger brother, Lloyd, a head start. Then Santana, as always, overtook his two brothers and beat them to the finish line.
"He used to give us head starts and then come and catch us a lot," Sinorice Moss said recently.
The brothers stopped racing each other after that, but Sinorice Moss continues to try to keep pace with Santana in other ways. He became a standout football player, like his older brother, playing the same position, wide receiver. He followed his brother to their hometown school, the University of Miami. Now, after watching Santana become a star last season in his first year with the Washington Redskins after four sometimes frustrating seasons with the New York Jets, Sinorice is about to follow his brother into the NFL as one of the top prospects available in an unusually barren field of wideouts in this weekend's draft.
"He's had a tremendous impact on my career, watching my brother while he was in college and now while he's in the NFL," Sinorice Moss said at the NFL scouting combine in late February in Indianapolis. "Guys ask me, 'Is there any pressure?' It doesn't bother me much being in my brother's shadow. He's Santana and I'm Sinorice."
Wide receiver has become one of the NFL's glamour positions, especially on draft day. With the league adopting more pass-friendly rules in recent years, teams have scooped up receivers in the first round at a dizzying rate. There were six wideouts drafted in the first round last year, including three in the top 10. Two years ago, seven wide receivers were chosen in the first round, also including three top 10 selections.
That frenzy probably won't continue this year. Many executives around the league expect only two wideouts, Chad Jackson of Florida and Santonio Holmes of Ohio State, to be drafted in the first round Saturday, and neither is viewed as likely top 10 material.
"It's not a great year to get out and try to find a number one receiver," Tennessee Titans General Manager Floyd Reese said at the combine, although he added that he thought this draft might be bountiful in pass-catchers in rounds two through four.
The general manager of another NFL team said last week, "This is the worst wide receiver draft we've had in a long, long time."
The prevailing wisdom about Moss, it seems, is that he's likely to go in the second round but could sneak into the bottom part of the first. The Pittsburgh Steelers have, as the defending Super Bowl champion, the final selection of the first round and need a versatile wideout to replace Antwaan Randle El, who signed with the Redskins as a free agent, so Moss perhaps could be an option for them. Moss said he received plenty of attention from the Chicago Bears during the pre-draft evaluation process. He speaks to his brother daily, he said, and they talked about the possibility of the Redskins drafting Sinorice. But that was before the team traded for wideout Brandon Lloyd and signed Randle El, so the chances now seem remote.
Sinorice is, like his brother, a small receiver who relies on his quickness to outmaneuver defenders. He was measured at the combine at 5 feet 8 and 185 pounds. The Redskins list Santana as 5-10 and 185 pounds. Lloyd Moss, who plays wide receiver -- what else? -- at Florida International University, is the giant of the group, at 6 feet 1 and 213 pounds.
In the past, Sinorice's size might have been a major question mark in the minds of NFL talent evaluators. But Santana and the Carolina Panthers' diminutive Steve Smith were among the league's most productive receivers last season, so Sinorice's entry into the NFL comes at a good time for him.
"Watching my brother and Steve Smith this year, they opened a lot of people's eyes," Sinorice Moss said. "They showed the smaller receivers can make the big plays. They can do the things a 6-3 receiver or 6-2 receiver can do. A lot of times in past years everybody wanted a big receiver. That was the main thing: 'I want a big receiver. I want a big-frame guy.' But smaller receivers, they can get the job done also."
Santana, like other former Hurricanes players, returns to Miami regularly to work out at the school, and Sinorice said the other players at the workouts would urge the two brothers to race to find out which one is faster now. They refused.
"A lot of people ask, 'Will you guys race each other?' Or, 'When are you going to race?' " Sinorice said. "But we don't have anything to prove to each other. He's fast. I'm fast. So that's how it is. We keep it all in the family."