Speed kills. Both on offense and defense. Elite functional speed creates splash plays, explosive plays. The most successful teams often have an abundance of players fleet of foot.
Whether it's a running back like Jonathan Taylor breaking an 80-yard touchdown run for the Indianapolis Colts, a wide receiver like Tyreek Hill taking the top off opposing defenses for the Kansas City Chiefs, or even Dallas Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons running down every ball carrier in sight, the reason for their success is the same.
Elite functional speed gives the players that possess it, and their teams, a huge advantage.
Therefore, every franchise is searching for the next prospect blessed with God-given, game-changing speed. Far too often teams become enamored with the wrong type of speed. There is a huge difference in 40-yard dash speed and functional playing speed. Many of the Top 10 40-yard dash times throughout the years at the NFL Scouting Combine have been achieved by fringe level NFL players.
Many of these players have straight line, track type speed. They train leading up to the Combine and pro days to achieve their best times. Sadly, these times are seldom a precursor of future NFL success. 40-yard dash times have merit when combined with the other explosive metrics obtained during testing. Finally, the film doesn't lie. Elite playing speed is easy to see, and impossible to hide.
The 2022 Combine will be a life-changing opportunity for many prospects, but potentially impacting none more than Western Michigan wide receiver Skyy Moore.
Moore is a projected third round prospect with plenty of first round abilities. He could move up or down a round based on his Combine performance. If he runs a 4.4 or better, it will call attention to his explosive abilities that are more than apparent on his game film. He is more than just a speed receiver, he is an all-around football player.
Moore is a local product, having played high school football for Shady Side Academy in Fox Chapel, Pennsylvania. Moore was listed as an athlete when he joined the Western Michigan football program, and had never played wide receiver before. That makes his incredible growth at the position even more impressive. The Broncos play in the MAC conference, a conference from which the Steelers have successfully found more than a few talented prospects.
Actually, Moore acknowledged he has already spoken with the Steelers at the early portion of the Combine, and how former Steelers star Antonio Brown was the player he patterns his game after, especially with his insane work ethic. He has similar abilities and playing style to Brown, without the character concerns.
Moore officially measured in at 5'10" and 195 sturdy lbs. He has superior quickness, start-stop ability, and an almost instant acceleration. This allows him to easily gain consistent separation off the line of scrimmage, and his run after the catch ability make him a threat to take it to the house every time he gets his hands on the football. Moore runs crisp routes, and can run the complete route tree. He has solid hands, and the toughness to work the middle of the field.
If you can't tell by now, I am completely infatuated with Moore's potential within the Steelers’ offense. I was blown away by his toughness and contact balance. He has a surprising ability to run through contact and often drag larger defenders. I believe this ability comes from Moore's almost ravenous internal desire for success. He displays exceptional intensity, courage, and competitiveness.
I saw one evaluation comparing Moore to current Steelers wideout Diontae Johnson. I feel this is in no way an accurate comparison for Moore. Although both players gain easy separation on routes, due to their short area quickness and footwork, I believe that is where the similarities end. As I already mentioned, Moore has the toughness and contact balance to run through arm tackles, making him a real yards after the catch threat. This is a quality Johnson has never demonstrated.
Although we won't know Moore's official measurements for certain until the Combine, he has a stocky build with a low center of gravity. Johnson is more spindly, with a thinner base. This makes Moore a more powerful runner, similar to a running back. Both players are twitchy athletes, but Moore is the more explosive target, in my opinion.
The Steelers have so many needs, and not their full allotment of draft picks. This makes the decision to use a Day 2 selection on a wide receiver more difficult than usual, especially with the Steelers reputation for finding and developing hidden gems at receiver in later rounds of the draft. The problem with that train of thought is this: Are the Steelers still as accomplished at this part of the game as their reputation would suggest? Based on the past few seasons, I would have to say no.
James Washington was a miss, as he was never been able to gain consistent separation at the NFL level. Chase Claypool regressed last season to a disturbing degree. Diontae Johnson continues to struggle holding on to the ball in clutch situations. Finally, JuJu Smith-Schuster has never been the same without Antonio Brown on the other side of the field.
A reputation is created by past accomplishments, which doesn't make it accurate in the current day and age. The Steelers have long held the reputation of a hard-nosed football team, renowned for a strong running game and dominant defense. Neither have been accurate in recent seasons.
For those reasons, I believe the Steelers have to consider taking game-changing players wherever, and whenever, they can find them.
Players like Skyy Moore fit the bill.
Update: Moore ran a 4.39 and a 4.41 forty on Thursday night at Lucas Oil Stadium.
The young man made himself some money in the process, potentially propelling himself into the second round.