NFL Draft 2022: What Wyoming LB Chad Muma brings to Jacksonville Jaguars

Chad Muma had big shoes to fill in Wyoming, and he left even bigger shoes to fill behind him.

For two years at Laramie, Muma backed up center linebacker Logan Wilson, who was later drafted in the third round by the Cincinnati Bengals and became a starter last season. Stepping into that role, Muma became a two-time All-Mountain West player, a second-team All-American and now a third-round pick by the Jacksonville Jaguars, who took him to No. 70 in the NFL Draft on Friday.

Muma was a tackle machine, finishing with 213 tackles in 19 games over the past two seasons, averaging 11.2 per game. He also had three interceptions as a senior, returning two for touchdowns. Combined with his running numbers in the pre-draft process, he showed he could make plays on pass defense as well.

“Teams are going to draft him and think they’re getting a two-try linebacker, and then they’re going to get him in the camp and realize he can play all downs,” Wyoming defensive coordinator Jay said. Sawvel.

He was a three-star safety recruit in high school with just four FBS offers, but he chose Wyoming, where his father played and Muma watched games growing up. He left college as one of the best linebackers in the country.

“He plays so hard,” Sawvel said. “There’s a lot of plays he made last year that were purely a ball tossed to the perimeter and Chad Muma going to chase.”

Dane Brugler on Chad Muma (#4 LB, #44 overall prospect in The Beast)

Muma’s college movie is catnip for NFL teams: he can run, fills the stat sheet, and has the best intangibles – at worst, he’ll play a big role on special teams at the next level. He doesn’t have any major shortcomings as a prospect, but his average lateral reach and gripping skills will be harder to mask compared to NFL competition. All in all, Muma is a high-energy tackle machine with excellent speed of play, competitive skills and an awareness of always being around the football.

Best college highlight

Although Muma had two picks of six at the start of the 2021 season, Sawvel highlighted two plays in Game 1 against Montana State. The first was a fourth and 4 sacks in the second quarter. In the Wyoming defense, Muma was supposed to play man coverage on the running back, but if the back went outside the tackle box, Muma’s duties would switch to quarterback. On the play, the fullback let up and Muma pressured and sacked the quarterback, all in one fell swoop.

“For a lot of people, there’s a lag,” Sawvel said. “If anyone really didn’t know what we were doing there, they would have just assumed that Chad Muma was actually in the blitz, but that wasn’t the case. It was how quickly he could react to what was happening and how quickly he saw things.

Later in the quarter, Muma skied to block a field goal attempt as the middle jumper. He was not rushing the blow. His job was just to jump straight up and he got his hands on the ball. Muma’s 40-inch vertical jump was fourth-best among NFL combine linebackers, just a half-inch from second-best.

Coaching language

Sawvel pointed to Muma’s decision to play in the Wyoming bowl game as a personification of his leadership. He was team captain twice.

“We were a 6-6 football team playing Kent State in a bowling game in Boise, Idaho, and he’s going to be, according to most people, a second- or third-round pick. In today’s world, that’s an option for a lot of people,” Sawvel said. “It wasn’t even a thought for him. I went to dinner with him the other night and we were talking about it. I said, ‘I really appreciate that about you.’ I know there are teams that watch this too. This guy will answer the bell no matter what.

“Chad looked at me, he was like, ‘It was never a thought that I wouldn’t play in this game.’ That’s how he is.

What you may have missed

Muma was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 13, but that didn’t slow him down. Athleticism‘s Nick Kosmider wrote about Muma’s diagnosis earlier this month. He wears an automatic insulin pump at all times except when playing football. Baltimore Ravens tight end Mark Andrews is also playing with the disease.

“Young kids, kids with type 1 diabetes, I just want to be an advocate for them,” Muma said. “For me to be someone for them who can share my story, share my experiences, that’s always been huge for me.”

(Photo: Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

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