There are always a few prospects I become enamored with every draft cycle, specifically players who I feel have the necessary attributes to excel wearing the Black and Gold in the Steel City. Young men who I believe have the intensity and character of a classic Pittsburgh Steeler. I usually write three or four articles at most each offseason trying my best to adequately express and explain my impressions and opinions about each of my potential draft crushes. Last year some of those prospects were Creed Humphrey, Nick Bolton, Zaven Collins, and Quinn Meinerz. Since I am in no way a professional scout or player evaluator, I usually fail in my attempts, but just know I have the best of intentions.
The 2022 Reese's Senior Bowl gave a plethora of potential draft targets the opportunity to showcase their talents in front of NFL scouts and personnel. With the 2022 NFL Combine and individual pro days still to come, there will be ample opportunity for each prospect to improve on or even confirm the first impressions they achieved during Senior Bowl week. As we all know, you never get a second chance to make a first impression, but a few strong performances can often minimize or negate the impact of a subpar effort.
Their were numerous prospects that placed themselves smack dab in the middle of the national spotlight due to their play during the week; Liberty QB Malik Willis, Florida State DE Jermaine Johnson, and UConn DL Travis Jones to name a few. The practice reps hold even more value than the game film for many vested observers. A strong week of practice often results in a strong game day performance. Funny how often that seems to happen. Take Boston College OL Zion Johnson for example. He was named Practice Player of the Week, and he played like it on Saturday.
There was one player that caught my attention early in week, although he didn't receive much national recognition during the week or game. That would be none other than Wyoming ILB Chad Muma, who just so happens to be a tackling machine and a well rounded football player at a position of great need for the Steelers.
Muma has good but not great athleticism according to most scouting reports. He has no glaring weakness as a defender, and is solid to above average in every conceivable aspect of the game.
He is a fundamentally sound tackler, displaying superior technique. He is extremely instinctual, from his first step and flawless angles to the ball carrier against the run, and the almost effortless depth he achieves in pass coverage. He has good size for the position at 6'3" and 245 lbs, which allows him to take on blockers and consistently disengage to make the tackle. He shows good burst and easy acceleration when blitzing the QB.
Muma is a third generation athlete, as both his father and grandfather played football at Wyoming. He was a defensive back in high school, which helps explain his coverage instincts. He reportedly has excellent leadership skills, and knows how to command a defensive huddle. Another coach on the field, he could be seen throughout Senior Bowl week instructing other defenders with their assignments.
My colleague, and BTSC draft guru, Andrew Wilbar currently has Muma as a third round prospect, but admitted that Muma alleviated many of his concerns about his playing speed throughout practices and game action.
On one particularly impressive play in the game, Malik Willis was scrambling around the field trying to find the end zone on the final play of the first half. Some thirty yards downfield, it appeared that Willis was going to outrun the defense enough to gain the edge and score an amazing touchdown. Muma, who had dropped back into coverage, smoothly navigated through the midfield congestion in taking the optimal route to the ball carrier. He managed to take Willis down and prevent the last second score. Everyone was so enamored with Willis' athleticism that most viewers missed the outstanding play by Muma.
Ask yourself this question. Which inside linebacker on the Steelers roster could have made that play last year? The obvious answer is nobody. Nobody on the roster presently has the mobility, instincts, or motor to make that play. Muma shares some similarities with former Carolina Panthers standout Luke Kuechly as a complete interior linebacker. He also reminds me a little of Steelers great James Farrior, in performance and understated leadership. Solid but not spectacular is often overlooked and underappreciated.
The upcoming Combine and pro days will help clarify any remaining unanswered questions about the talented young linebacker, and give us a better idea on when and where he maybe drafted. I will be paying close attention to his pre-draft process, and rooting for him to show his full potential. He could go as high as his former Wyoming Cowboys teammate and current Super Bowl participant, Cincinnati Bengals LB Logan Wilson.
Based on the strengths and weaknesses of the Steelers defense in 2021, and the potential impact his substantial abilities could bring to the equation, this BTSC writer believes that Chad Muma would be a perfect fit with the Pittsburgh Steelers.