Purdue OL Marcus Mbow a sleeper to watch in 2025 NFL Draft

Scouting for the 2025 NFL Draft has begun, and Purdue's Marcus Mbow is a prime sleeper to keep tabs on
Purdue Boilermakers offensive lineman Marcus Mbow (63) runs a drill during football practice,
Purdue Boilermakers offensive lineman Marcus Mbow (63) runs a drill during football practice, / Alex Martin/Journal and Courier / USA
In this story:

Summer scouting is underway with the 2024 NFL Draft behind us, and one of the most exciting parts about this process is finding sleepers who will shoot up draft boards next fall. And Purdue offensive lineman Marcus Mbow fits that bill.

Entering his redshirt junior season with the Boilermakers, Mbow is a two-year starter who has received high marks from graders. Turning on his tape, it's extremely easy to see why Mbow sits in the green in most analytical scores. So why isn't he more frequently talked about? He has all of the makings of a player who could come off the board on Day 2 of the 2025 NFL Draft.

So let's talk about the talented Boilermaker. What makes him a tantalizing prospect and why does he project well to the NFL level? Let's dive in:

Refined hands to lock down pass rushers

When turning on Mbow's tape, the first thing that pops right off the screen is how refined and savvy his hands are. Not only does Mbow pack a powerful punch that provides real shock value to the man across from him, but the placement, grip strength, and ways he can counter are phenomenal.

Catching defenders leaning, Mbow is not afraid to bust out a snatch trap and put a pass rusher on their face. When he does initially get beat by a pass rusher, Mbow shows the ability to fight back with his hands and work back inside the frame of the man across from him. When stabbing at his assignment, Mbow throws that initial strike right into the V of the opponent's jersey.

He has a counter for whatever the man across from him tries to throw his way.

A bully who looks to bury the man across from him at every opportunity

Mbow provides real movement off the line of scrimmage in the run game. The Iowa game was a highlight reel of the Purdue offensive lineman throwing defenders around and clearing out rush lanes for his teammates to hit full speed. Packing a powerful punch, Mbow seeks to challenge the balance of the man across from him everytime he initiates contact.

And the most impressive trait about Mbow? He will continue to find work until he hears a whistle. He loves contact, and he loves to drive his man into the dirt. He is a nasty, nasty blocker whose play-style resembles that of Cleveland Browns offensive lineman Wyatt Teller. Mbow is a pest to deal with.

Even as a pass protector, Mbow flashes a strong enough core and play strength to prohibit opposing blockers from working through his chest as he can drop his anchor at the drop of a dime. There is a reason that Mbow has graded out extremely well during his two seasons as a starting offensive lineman with the Purdue Boilermakers, and it is because his attention to detail and desire for violence align on the football field.

Has swing tackle capabilities

We know that NFL teams love versatility if they have to throw a player into an unfamiliar role in a pinch. This is a big reason why the Green Bay Packers have valued Elgton Jenkins so much and continue to draft players like Jordan Morgan (their first round pick this year). They have a trend of selecting players who they can plug in at more than one spot.

And while Mbow projects better to the interior as a full-time starter, his quality of reps when he started at right tackle in 2023 prove he can hang around on the outside if his future team needs him to. Before playing right tackle a year ago, Mbow started every game for the Boilermakers at right guard in 2022, even facing tough interior defensive lines like Michigan's and LSU's.

This will make him an appealing prospect should he declare for the 2025 NFL Draft.

Reasons for concern with Mbow's transition to the NFL

The biggest reason for concern surrounding Mbow is the broken leg he suffered in the Iowa game in Week 6 in 2023. His stint playing right tackle at Purdue was cut short because of this, and until he takes the field and puts out quality tape in 2024 there is no guarantee that he will rebound to full strength. However, given the tape he has put out, this is not yet a reason to knock him until it has proven a hinderance long-term.

There is also a reason to question how much lateral movement and agility Mbow possesses when he is asked to get wide to the perimeter and find work. On tape, there have been a few instances where he has struggled to work across the face of the man he is trying to scoop out and seal off. When he is working at the second level as well, his spacing is tremendous, but he does occasionally get beat to the spot when looking for work.

Speed along the outside shoulder of Mbow can tend to give him a few fits as well. The further Mbow has to set out, the more uncomfortable his feet look. This issue, however, will be mitigated by projecting Mbow as a guard as opposed to the right tackle slot he played in 2023.

Grading Marcus Mbow out as a prospect

Mbow is mean, nasty, and brings the attitude and tools to the NFL level to be a successful interior offensive lineman for enough time to make a significant living.

We are still a long way away from the 2025 NFL Draft, and Mbow has to prove he can bounce back to full health after suffering a broken leg. However, based on the tape he has put out, Mbow graded out with a late second round grade on my scale. This means that I project him as a future and long-term NFL starter at the guard position.

Cory Kinnan