As Thaddeus Moss watched the NFL Draft with his father, Pro Football Hall of Fame wide receiver Randy Moss, he had a good idea of how the three-day event would unfold.
Moss was not a first-round talent like his father, who was drafted 21st overall in 1998, and he was not seen as one of the top tight ends in the 2020 class. He was a mid-to-late-round prospect, and that was before his medical exam at the NFL Combine revealed a fracture in his right foot. That prevented him from participating in front of professional scouts and raised concerns about his health.
So, as the rounds passed and the likelihood of being picked dwindled, Moss said his father was not sure what to say to him. No matter; Moss is used to being overlooked and knows how to handle it.
"I went ahead and just told him, 'Look, this is no different from what I've had to do my whole life,'" said Moss, who signed with the Redskins as a college free agent immediately after the draft. "'The last name Moss, people have always had their eyes on me and always doubted me and always wanted to see what I could do and always had expectations. This is no different."
Make no mistake; Moss embraces being the son of one of the NFL's all-time receivers. He's one of two who carry on the family name -- an honor he takes seriously and uses as motivation.
But he's tired of the comparisons to his father. He is built differently and plays another position, He has good hands and solid body control, but he's not the ultimate big-play threat like his father was. In fact, his biggest strength might be as a run blocker.
And now that Moss has reached the professional ranks, he's ready to carve his own identity.
"Having the last name that I have, a lot of people think that I was handed a lot of things or that I was given a lot of things, but that's actually the opposite," Moss said. "I'm looking forward to the opportunity to work for everything. Whatever my NFL career is, whether that be one year, two, three, four, five to 10, you're going to have to respect it, because I worked for everything. I wasn't given anything."
Moss said there were three franchises interested in him -- Washington, Cincinnati and New England -- and he chose the Redskins because they were the first to contact him. He called it a blessing to join the burgundy and gold and thanked the organization for the opportunity. But that did not take away from the disappointment and frustration of going undrafted out of LSU.
To Moss, it felt like "a slap in the face." He served as the No. 1 tight end on perhaps the best offense in college football history and played his best in the biggest games. In the College Football Playoff semifinals and national championship, he combined for nine receptions, 135 yards and three touchdowns. Yet during the NFL Draft, he was not one of the 12 tight ends chosen.
Instead of setting out to prove those teams wrong, he'll attempt to prove himself right. One way or another, he made an NFL roster. Now it's about capitalizing on his chance.
"I'm just trying to go out there and be the best football player that I can be, be the best teammate that I can be," Moss said. "Of course, I'm still a rookie, so getting in there and adjusting to the learning curve and learning the offense, and doing what it takes, doing the little things that a rookie has to do and earning my keep on the team. And from there, just playing football, and everything will take care of itself."
That process began last weekend with the Redskins' virtual rookie minicamp, and it continued during the team's four-day virtual voluntary minicamp this week, where rookies joined the veterans for meetings and were able to meet 1-on-1 with their position coaches. For Moss, that meant working directly with tight ends coach Pete Hoener and alongside fellow newcomers like Logan Thomas and Richard Rodgers.
This is the first time Moss has had virtual football meetings, so "absolutely it's been different." There's also much more information within an NFL playbook than a college one, so he's had to change his learning and study habits. He was not much of a writer at LSU, but as of his videoconference with reporters Wednesday, he had about 25 pages of handwritten notes.
As for his foot injury, Moss underwent surgery about a week after the draft and said rehab is going great and that he's ahead of schedule. Whenever the Redskins can begin practicing again, Moss expects to be ready to go.
And when that happens, Moss is confident he'll be able to make a name for himself in a crowded tight ends room.
"Once I get healthy, get back out there on the football field and put them pads on, everybody will be able to see what I can do."