2021 NFL Draft Player Preview: Israel Mukuamu

  • Israel Mukuamu, 6-4/205

  • Cornerback

  • South Carolina

  • Israel Mukuamu 2020 Preview
    By Charlie Campbell

    Career Recap: During the 2019 season, NFL eyes were on Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm as teams evaluated him for the next level. When going against Fromm, Mukuamu took advantage of the opportunity to have his best game of the year, picking off Fromm three times to help lead the Gamecocks to a shocking upset of the Bulldogs. That game put Mukuamu on the map as a 2021 NFL Draft prospect. The sophomore totaled four interceptions, nine passes broken up and 59 tackles in 2019. As a freshman, he had 17 tackles, one interception and one pass batted.

    2020 Season Outlook: Mukuamu will see a lot of good talent during the 2020 season if it plays out as scheduled. He has a number of receivers on his schedule that made NFL teams' preseason watchlist. That group includes: Kentucky's Josh Ali, Florida's Kadarius Toney, Texas A&M's Jhamon Ausbon, Clemson's Amari Rodgers and LSU's Ja'Marr Chase. Chase is in the running among the best players in college football at any position, and he is on track to go in the top 10 next April. Thus, Mukuamu could really help himself by playing well against Chase. Toney also is an opportunity, as he is an explosive receiver, so if Mukuamu shows that he can run with Toney, that would really help Mukuamu with pro evaluators.

    Skill-Set Summary: After the Seattle Seahawks won a Super Bowl with the Legion of Boom secondary leading their powerful defense, a lot of other teams across the league implemented a similar style defense. Tall cornerbacks who can play press-man coverage and have the ability to use their size and length to blanket receivers have been in demand. As a result, a cornerback like Mukuamu is going to have plenty of teams interested in drafting him.

    Sources from multiple teams have raved about Mukuamu having great size, and that is clear with his height, length and physicality. He can play high to low while showing press-man ability on big receivers. Mukuamu is a good fit to take on tall receivers and is an asset in the red zone to take away fade routes or jump balls. He shows a nice ability to play the ball as well.

    "I love the length and physical traits to work with," said one director of college scouting. "[Mukuamu] needs some work in a lot of areas like eye discipline, mechanics, and I'm not sure he can run. Georgia was his best game."

    So as the college director stated, there are significant areas of improvement for the NFL. Mukuamu has some issues with stiffness and transitioning, and those are common problems for big corners. He will need to improve his mechanics to help him keep receivers from getting separation when they go in and out of their breaks.

    The big pitfall that traps a lot of big cornerbacks is not being fast enough to run with pro receivers. Teams definitely have that question with Mukuamu, so it would really help the junior to show he can run with fast wideouts and then follow that up with a quality 40 time in the pre-draft process.

    2021 NFL Draft Expectations: Mukuamu needs a strong year while answering some concerns to be an early-round pick.

    "We have mixed grades and opinions on him," said a director from one team. Thus, Mukuamu is in a very fluid position entering his junior year.



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