“Energy and persistence conquer all things.”
― Benjamin Franklin
Welcome, fellow IDP Nerd! Thanks for tuning in for another profile in our ongoing draft prep series. These articles are jam-packed with the scouting goodness that you’ll need to adequately prepare for your upcoming rookie draft(s).
In today’s profile, we take a look at a stout linebacking prospect that is quickly rising up draft boards. In four years at Wyoming, Chad Muma established himself as a dynamic team leader and rightfully raised eyebrows among scouts. He plays with endearing turbulence that many believe will carry over to a professional level.
Does Muma’s film live up to the hype? Can the Mountain West star successfully make the leap to NFL competition? And, if so, how should you be valuing this player as an IDP prospect?
The answers to these questions lie ahead. So let’s dive in!
WHAT IS THERE TO LIKE?
It’s cliché but accurate. Football is, indeed, a game of emotion. Perhaps no position illustrates this point better than the middle linebacker.
Often considered the quarterback of the defensive unit, the man in the middle is called on to keep his defense both educated and inspired. Muma excels in this area.
You see a fierce competitor who consistently plays until the whistle when you study his film. Even when an opponent executes on an explosive play offensively, Muma can be found far downfield collaborating on the stop.
Consider this now semi-famous play from the recent Senior Bowl. Mobile quarterback Malik Willis helped his case as a potential first-rounder when he scrambled for a 28-yard pickup in the annual all-star game. However, watch this play again, paying close attention to the white helmet of Muma.
The two-time team captain emerges from coverage deep downfield (first in-frame around the 20) to track Willis laterally across the entire field. Notice how he stays step for step with one of the most elite athletes of this class before wrapping him up and preventing a score. This level of effort is impressive but not uncommon for Muma.
Another example of Muma’s hallmark persistence came in the Cowboys 2021 meeting with Boise State. From the angle provided, you can see Muma shade to the strong side of the formation upon the snap. He shows excellent fundamentals in keeping himself square to the action. Upon identifying the fake, he backtracks cross-field, ultimately closing in on the receiver in the flat for minimal gain. This play nicely showcases both football intelligence and agility.
Nose for the Ball
In 2021, no linebacker in college football had more tackles to their credit than Muma. With 142 combined tackles over 13 games played, he averaged nearly 11 tackles every time he stepped on the field. And those numbers are no fluke.
As previously mentioned, one of Muma’s greatest attributes is an ability to blanket the second level from sideline to sideline. He can also lay the wood and make the opponent think twice about stepping into his office.
The play below is a prime example of this combination of traits. In this clip, Muma is sent on a blitz from the strong side. The opponent executes a designed run to the weak side and thus leaves him unblocked as he is (foolishly) assumed out of the play. The dynamic Muma capitalizes on this opportunity to blaze through midfield congestion before applying a punishing lick on the running back. Ouch!
As you might assume from his demonstrated play speed, Muma can play both the run and the pass with equal efficacy. In fact, some of Muma’s biggest hits seem to come outside the tackle box. These areas of the field allow the LB to flaunt a dazzling ability to convert speed to power.
Look no further than the smack he puts on the San Jose State running back in the clip below for proof of this ability. Frankly, you’ve got to hand it to the receiver for hanging onto the ball after getting wrecked in the flat by a charging Muma.
Muma’s quickness and tenacity should carry him far to the next level.
WHAT SHOULD CONCERN YOU?
Occasional Poor Form
Ironically, though intensity and effort are Muma’s trademark attributes, his high motor can at times also be a shortcoming. When you study his film, you will find occasional instances where his energy has betrayed him. Over pursuit and a failure to wrap up the ball carrier can sometimes be a concern. It sounds crazy to say that a player who led the NCAA in tackles might have left some on the field, but it’s factual.
Take this play against Boise State, for example. You’ll see Muma, #48, is first on the scene, defending the sweep. However, he pursues this play with tremendous momentum that he blows right past the rusher. Muma goes for a big hit and fails to wrap up the ball carrier adequately. Though he can still recover and participate in the tackle, Muma will not have the luxury of such second chances in the NFL.
Positional coaches are sure to notice this aspect of Muma’s film and work with him to harness his intensity away from periodic fundamental lapses.
COMPARISON – COLE HOLCOMB
In terms of an established NFL comparison, I see a lot of Cole Holcomb in Muma’s game. First, consider the raw measurables listed above. Muma carries a shade more weight. But, the height, hand size, arm length, and wingspan are all within an inch of each other.
Physical attributes are not where the similarities end, in my estimation. Both Holcomb and Muma can rack up tackles due to their impressive lateral range. Consider the following clips, which showcase coverage of a receiver in the flat. Both linebackers successfully diagnose the play and then track the ball carrier before taking them down in close proximity to the sideline. This highlights an impressive correlation between cognitive and physical attributes.
Holcomb stepped right into a starting job upon being drafted in 2019. He was serviceable, collecting roughly 6.5 tackles per game in his first two seasons. However, he made a considerable leap in productivity in his third season when he logged 8.9 tackles per game. I would anticipate a similar career trajectory for Muma, making the comparison all the more compelling.
Muma is a strapping LB prospect with all the athleticism and leadership traits to succeed at the next level. He brings tremendous energy, which is squelched only by a referee’s whistle.
Through my amateur film study, I’m convinced of Muma’s viability as a prospect. Next, I will be curious to see whether the NFL concurs with my assessment. Based on publicly available information, it seems that Muma is currently carrying a second-round draft grade in scouting circles. If he is, indeed, selected in the top 64 of April’s NFL Draft, Muma will secure his place as a top IDP prospect in the 2022 class.
Assuming high-end draft capital and a desirable landing spot, I would feel comfortable spending an early to mid-third-round rookie pick to net Muma in IDP leagues. Don’t be afraid to trade your way into this zone of your league’s draft if you require a linebacker. Muma has the upside to warrant the move, and you won’t want to wait too long and find yourself lamenting your patience.
I hope you enjoyed this review of an energetic, young LB. With the right coaching and ample opportunity, Muma can become a stud LB in the NFL. Keep your eye on this player come draft time, and make sure to match your interest to that of the pro scouts.
I thoroughly enjoyed bringing you this piece and would love to continue the conversation on Chad Muma. Please feel free to comment below or contact me @Spydes78 on Twitter. And also, stay tuned to @DynastyNerds for a steady pipeline of content from our eminently qualified staff to carry you through your offseason. If you like what you read, please consider becoming a subscriber to any of the elite tools that Dynasty Nerds has to offer. Make sure to use the promo code “SPYDES” to receive a 15% discount. Thanks for reading, and enjoy the grind!