Leading up to the 2023 NFL Draft, Steelers players will be sharing their Draft Day Memories, from the time they went to the NFL Scouting Combine, through the moment they were drafted. In this installment, offensive lineman Dan Moore Jr. gives his take.
Dan Moore Jr. - 2021 NFL Draft - 4th Round
The draft process was a little different for me because our class didn't have the NFL Combine because of covid. Growing up as a kid, that's something you always watch every year. You anticipate it if you're a fan of football. I remember at a young age and not even knowing anybody coming out, just sitting there watching it, hoping that one day I'd be on that stage. To not be able to get that, it was definitely a bummer. Not only that, but it was also a bit of a detriment in the process. Just one less opportunity for you to be able to talk to scouts, for coaches, scouts, general managers to see you work out on the field. That's also a really good tool for them to see you.
Luckily, we had a normal pro day on campus. Everything went as planned. The pro day had so much weight on it because the combine was nonexistent. It was the only time we were able to work out. We couldn't take any visits to facilities. That was literally the only time that coaches, scouts, general managers were able to see us on the field.
You have to have the outlook to go out there and give it your all. A lot of guys who had the combine, sometimes they do better at one or the other. So just having that one opportunity to rely on, it put a bit of pressure on you. The combine was nonexistent, so the pro days are usually after the combine. That gives you a little bit more time to prepare as well. You put weight on one singular day, and you just go out there and put on a show.
I had absolutely no interaction with the Steelers at my pro day. Some of the offensive staff were there. Coach (Matt) Canada was there. I think Coach (Mike) Tomlin was there. I do remember my agent telling me at the time that a lot of staff from the Steelers were there. I thought because the quarterbacks coach was there, that they were there to look at my quarterback. They could have been, but I had no idea that I was on their radar. There were a few teams that stood out the I knew had an interest, the Patriots, the Jaguars and the Panthers. We knew the Steelers had some kind of interest. We just didn't know how much interest. They did a really good job of keeping everything in-house and not giving information out. It was hard to get a gauge on them. I knew that they were interested. I just didn't know how interested they were.
For the draft I was at home in Beaumont, Texas with my family. At the home where I was raised. My dad put on a nice little outing for everybody. My family was there, had good food going. It was really nice and a really good time to spend with my family. I wanted to be there at the house where my love for the game started.
It was surreal being a kid watching the draft and now in that same living room watching myself get drafted. It was a very surreal moment. I was surrounded by the people that that I love, people that love me, people that sacrificed for me and the people that believed in me. Draft day was exactly how it should have been.
I was in the garage with everyone. My dad had a television in the garage at the time, so we all were pretty much outside. We had people in the garage, people outside in the front yard. My dad had the whole set up with tables and tents for everybody, so we were all watching and eating. I wasn't doing too much eating because I was walking around nervous. Everybody pretty much had their eyes glued to their phones or TVs with a plate of food in their hands.
It was definitely nerve wracking waiting. I thought I was going to go the day before in the second or third round. Waiting that extra day was hard. I didn't have to wait too long. Waiting that extra day, it definitely took a bit of a toll on me. I tried my best to just stay optimistic and just tell myself, regardless of where I end up or regardless of where I go, where I get drafted isn't going to define the type of player that I am and that I'll ultimately become. I stayed true to that.
It really was tough waiting that extra day. It was a bit humiliating. Everybody expected me to go in the second, third round, everyone who was there with me. When that doesn't happen, they're always asking questions. It's kind of hard for them to understand. It was a little bit tough on me. But I'm a huge believer in faith. I said a prayer that night before I went to sleep. And the next morning I just woke up really optimistic, just feeling good. I should have been feeling good because I got drafted by the Steelers and it's been amazing ever since.
When I did get the call it was Mike Tomlin on the other end. I had just gotten off the phone with my agent and I can't remember who had just picked, and we thought that they were one of the teams that could possibly pick me, and they picked another position. My agent told me just hold tight. You should be getting a call soon. Immediately after I hung up with him, before my phone even locked, I see not the number, but the caller ID and the Pittsburgh Steelers pop up on the top of my phone. I just hop up out of my chair and hurry up and answer and it's Mike Tomlin asking me how I'm doing, if I'm ready to play for the Steelers. That was probably the most amazing moment of my life. Just the feeling of the wait being done. Just the security of where you're going, being off the board. Your dream comes true. It becomes real at that moment. And not only that, but I also have the people that I love, my family, my friends around me to just celebrate that moment. It was just amazing.
After I got picked, it was funny because my dad, he's a really manly dude. And he doesn't show very much emotion. I think he cried before my mom did. My parents were very happy for me. Everyone's reaction, just to see how happy they were for me. Everything that I do plays a part in their lives and how much my success puts smiles on their faces is special. I have a video of everyone going crazy and being happy. A lot of times I look back at that video and I look at all those people and honestly, that's my motivation.