Israel Mukuamu - DB, South Carolina
By the numbers:
6'4", 212 pounds, 34" arms per pro day measurements.
2020: 10 tackles and two interceptions in five games played.
2019: 59 tackles (2.0 tackles for loss), nine passes broken up and four interceptions in 12 games played.
Israel Mukuamu has one of the more tantalizing physical profiles in this year's draft. The junior defensive back has an insane blend of height, length and overall build — especially when playing cornerback. His long arms routinely come in handy and pair with his impressive vertical leaping ability to play balls in the air. He also likes to jam receivers at the line of scrimmage. Mukuamu closes quickly on the ball and has decent long speed.
Mukuamu's ball skills are some of the best in this year's defensive back class. He had great production in 2019 and allowed his length to play to his advantage. He's disruptive at the catch point, reacting quickly after the ball is released. Mukuamu is also versatile, as he spent time primarily as either an outside cornerback or safety at South Carolina. He has the potential to play either role in the NFL.
While Mukuamu makes great sense as a zone cornerback moving forward, his skills in man coverage are underdeveloped. He bites on double-moves and is grabby when he's getting beat. He plays with a high center of gravity, making his transitions slower than those of a shorter cornerback. Mukuamu has an impressive punch that he utilizes at the line of scrimmage, although it isn't always the most effective. All of this makes his long-term future at corner worth questioning.
Mukuamu needs to use his size to his advantage if he wants to become a well-rounded player moving forward. He works through blockers in run support, but isn't always able to finish off the job because of poor tackling form. He oftentimes misplaces his initial punch and doesn't have the recovery speed to make up for it. Mukuamu has the tools to be an imposing presence despite not being one yet.
How Mukuamu fits with the Chiefs:
Bashaud Breeland is still on the free agent market, so the Chiefs seem to be trusting their youth at cornerback. L'Jarius Sneed, Charvarius Ward and Rashad Fenton are slated to headline that group. At safety, the trio of Tyrann Mathieu, Juan Thornhill and Daniel Sorensen returns for another year together. Mukuamu is either a split safety or perimeter cornerback at the next level, and that versatility may appeal to defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. His size is just the icing on the cake and makes him a fit in a man-heavy system if he can cash in on his immense potential.
Mukuamu has a rare profile for a defensive back. Not only is he supersized at cornerback, but he has the ability to double as a safety when needed. He's rough around the edges and needs to work on a lot in order to reach his ceiling, but he could end up being one of the best value picks of this draft. His first NFL team will be tasked with making a difficult decision: deciding where to play him full-time. Mukuamu grades out as a late third-round prospect.