At long last friends, the NFL Draft is upon us. For someone like me, this time of the year trumps the holiday season: this is my holiday season! This is the last portion of time we have to make it through to the light on the other side, commonly known as draft day. Mock drafts, player analysis, rumors, biased opinions, and trades are going to be flooding the social media banks soon.
As a common fan, this is a crazy time of year. I can only imagine what it's like for an actual NFL hopeful.
Recently, I found myself lucky enough to land a sit-down interview with Missouri S&T's own, Keyso Moss. Attending a Division II powerhouse, Moss might be a foreign name to most.
Allow me to introduce Moss to the masses.
Standing at about 6"1 291 lbs., Moss can be viewed as an "undersized" interior defensive lineman. However, we have seen so-called "undersized" d-linemen shine in the NFL as of late.
Moss' favorite NFL players are very similar to his stature: former/current All-Pros Geno Atkins and Aaron Donald. But it's not just his size that compares favorably to the two Pro Bowlers. Moss displays tendencies on film that are often shown by his professional counterparts. Keyso repeatedly beats double-teams with ease, hustles plays down from behind, and appears to have a solid grasp on the concept of stunts and schemes (blitzing up the right gap or not); all of which, Atkins and Donald do exceptionally well.
I'm not out here saying Moss will be "the next Aaron Donald" but the similarities between the two and their play style are evident. When a prospect is displaying traits similar to that of All-Pros, I choose to take notice.
I got in touch with Keyso the other day and I must say, he definitely left me impressed with how he carries himself.
How long have you been playing ball? Did you always want to play D-line?
Ever since I was a kid like 10 [years old] and under. They always had me flip-flop between O-line, D-line, and fullback.
Keyso tells me that he solely focuses on the defensive line and fullback now.
If a team asks you to play fullback, you can still do that?
Yes sir! One day I do my D-line training, and the next I work on my routes/blocking/etc.
Moss goes on to tell me he wants to be "ready for any situation."
Was Missouri University of Science and Technology (Missouri S&T) your first choice of D-2 programs?
Yes sir it was, after junior college and a year at Miss. Valley.
What's your favorite lesson learned from (Missouri S&T) head coach, Tyler Fenwick?
No matter the situation, just continue to drive and move forward... might even lose a game but you gotta bounce back and know you going to win the next
I could feel the passion behind the young man's answer as he went on to tell me he was selected as a team captain his final season.
Knowing that you model your game after Aaron Donald and Geno Atkins, what are your thoughts on another undersized interior defensive lineman, the Steelers' Javon Hargrave?
I watched more of him when he came out [of school]. He actually played against another team in our conference, so I saw him on film [while] studying that team.
I love film study. It's amazing how he was beating double teams so consistently at the point of attack. I love the way that kid plays man. He plays with a lot of heart.
Hopefully, Moss can get to know Hargrave better at offseason workouts! (Wink wink.)
Running a 4.9 40 yard dash is pretty impressive for an interior defensive lineman. Do you owe your speed to any secret workouts?"
(Laughing.) Not really, to tell you the truth I was kind of slow in high school. But my brothers and I are super competitive and they used to dog me too much and I was just like, I'm not going through this forever man!
Nowadays, I've been speed training for workouts and the draft. Whenever I train by myself, I take what I learn from my trainers and apply it on my own time.
Keyso goes on to tell me he wants to coach after his playing days. (His ability to retain information and apply it on his own time is a great sign towards that.)
Moss is such an approachable and down-to-earth guy that I had to ask throw him a few curveballs during the interview.
Do you have a go-to snack or a pre-game meal you must have?
Not too crazy, but I always make sure to at least have a banana or something.
Not too odd, since banana's are a common snack for athletes, as they are great for preventing muscle cramps.
Who is the best wide receiver in the NFL today?
From a friend's perspective, I gotta say Martavis Bryant.
This greatly excited me because Keyso didn't realize he was talking to Bryant's number one fan in Pittsburgh! And he tells me that the two were coincidentally high school teammates!
The kid was so fast. I was just like, this is ridiculous man!
This one time he took off from the line and I just knew (he would be great).
How can you not like this guy already? He speaks nothing but truth! He told me that Bryant would often joke about racing. Keyso is fast for a big man, but not Martavis Bryant fast! (Then again, nobody is.) Hopefully, the two former teammates can reunite in the city of champions.
Coming from a Division II program, the chances of being drafted are slim for Keyso Moss. However, a lot of teams tend to take chances on guys in the late rounds. Rounds 6-7 in NFL drafts are often spent on "project guys" or players who aren't ready to play yet, but have the traits to eventually be contributors.
I'm sure every team has a list of potential players left at the bottom of the draft, whom they plan to target with late round picks or bring in as a college free agent. On draft day, if there is no one in the room to pound their fist on the table for Moss in the late rounds, I think I would.
Keyso Moss would be on my list.
I'd rather take a chance on him than a prospect with character concerns or anything of that nature. You can't measure heart at the combine or a pro day. At the very least, I hope the Steelers are smart enough to get his agent on the phone after the draft and attempt to bring him to camp, because I feel this prospect is going to be somebody worth taking a chance on.
Keyso Moss Highlights
If you'd like to see more of this young man in action, be sure to check out Keyso Moss' profile on Hudl.