We are all guilty. Every rabid football fan and armchair talent evaluator develops draft crushes during the pre-draft process. Players that each one of us as individuals wholeheartedly believe would be perfect fits for our favorite team. Often we feel and believe in our opinions on a deeply personal level. It can also be extremely disappointing when the Steelers obviously don't share in our obsessions.
Or maybe it's just me.
The 2022 NFL Draft is hours away. After far too many evaluations read and film watched, I have once again found myself with numerous draft crushes, which happens every year. There are multiple players at various positions which are intriguing, but a few that really stand out as potentially perfect fits for the Steelers’ system and culture.
I have written articles about each of my draft crushes at different stages of the offseason. I wrote first about my defensive draft crush, Wyoming ILB Chad Muma, immediately after his impressive performance during Senior Bowl week. Then I waxed poetically about my favorite offensive draft crush, Western Michigan WR Skyy Moore, during the 2022 NFL Combine festivities. Finally, I penned a wish list of sorts expressing my desire for the Steelers to consider another talented pass catcher, Cincinnati WR Alec Pierce, after his pro day.
With the whole pre-draft evaluation period over, I like to reexamine my articles and evaluations to see if my initial impressions of each prospect have changed over time, or if they remain the same. My opinions on each of these young men, and my desire to see each wearing black and gold, has only grown stronger.
Chad Muma had an excellent week of practices leading up to the Senior Bowl, then ended up the leading tackler in the game. His performance obviously caught the eye of any remaining scouts who may have been sleeping on the professional potential of the 2021 3rd team All-American from Wyoming.
Muma graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering, but his intelligence isn't just limited to the classroom. He is a student of the game, combining above average athleticism with an exceptional feel for the position. His leadership was evident during Senior Bowl week, as he was seen assisting out of position teammates with their assignments on multiple occasions.
After posting a 4.63 forty, 40" vertical, and 27 bench press reps at 6'3" and 240 lbs., scoring a 9.74 Relative Athletic Score overall at the Combine, Muma definitely didn't rest on his laurels. He trained hard to improve his 20-yard shuttle and three cone drill times which he was disappointed with during Combine testing, and improved both substantially enough after running them again at his pro day. If he would have posted his pro day times at the combine, he would have had the best times for his position at the Combine for both.
That's the type of determination and dedication to personal improvement elite level players are made of. Quite impressive from a 22 year old young man. The more I learn about Chad Muma, the more there is to like.
Western Michigan WR Skyy Moore had been given a 3rd Round grade on the majority of draft projections leading up to the Combine. His exceptional Combine performance, coupled with his impressive game film, have him shooting up draft boards into late first to early second round range.
More and more evaluators are starting to recognize the athleticism, explosiveness, and intensity I have recognized since late in the 2021 collegiate season.
Mel Kiper calls Skyy Moore "the most underrated player in this draft at any position." Kiper has had as many as six receivers being selected in the first round of his mock drafts, but has suggested he wouldn't be surprised if Moore, who he projects going in the second round, outperforms a lot of the receivers taken ahead of him.
Moore is only 5'10" and 191 lbs., substantially smaller than some of the other lengthy prospects in this class, but he actually has a similar wingspan and larger hands than many of them. Moore is a ‘yinzer’, who grew up admiring former Steelers great Antonio Brown, particularly his ravenous work ethic. That is exactly who Moore reminds me of, which actually makes perfect sense.
He also shares similarities with current NFL standout Deebo Samuel. Both young men are blessed with a powerful build, and a low center of gravity. Like Samuel, Moore breaks plenty of tackles and picks up an inordinate amount of yards after the catch. Moore should be an immediate contributor out of the slot as a rookie, but similar to the aforementioned Antonio Brown, I believe he has the talent and tenacity to eventually excel on the outside as well.
Based on all of the above criteria, I believe Moore is another perfect prospect for Pittsburgh.
Wide receiver became a huge draft need for the Steelers after they lost three of their top five receivers early in free agency. An underwhelming and extraordinarily expensive group of available receivers in free agency has only exaggerated the situation. The Steelers would be wise to double dip at the position in an abnormally deep draft class.
Cincinnati receiver Alec Pierce has been garnering plenty of attention as a possible great value selection in the late third to early fourth round. Blessed with excellent length and solid deep speed, he has splash play potential. Pierce excels at high pointing the football, a trait that has been missing in the Steel City for as long as I can remember. Thanks to his wingspan and 40"+ vertical, Pierce has a ridiculous catch radius.
An under discussed byproduct of this year's deep class at receiver, a prospect like Pierce could still be left on the board early in Day 3. A receiver with the mentality and physicality of a linebacker, Pierce displays these attributes regularly with his superior blocking.
If the Steelers agree with my assessments, and are blessed enough to acquire any of the three in the 2022 NFL Draft, you can be sure I will be celebrating the Steelers good fortune.