Should Chad Muma, one of the NFL Draft’s best LBs, be a target for the Denver Broncos?

Wyoming Cowboys linebacker Chad Muma (48) tackles Air Force Falcons running back Brad Roberts (20) in the first quarter at Falcon Stadium.
Oct 9, 2021; Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA; Wyoming Cowboys linebacker Chad Muma (48) tackles Air Force Falcons running back Brad Roberts (20) in the first quarter at Falcon Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Broncos Country has regularly discussed Colorado native Trey McBride as a potential target in the NFL Draft, but there’s another talented Coloradan at a position of need that hasn’t gotten his share of the limelight.

Originally from Lone Tree, Wyoming Cowboy linebacker Chad Muma is one of the very best players at his position in the NFL Draft and could potentially make a lot of sense for the Denver Broncos, who have consistently been tied to the draft’s mid-round linebackers.

Of those mid-round linebacking options — many of which we’ve already dived into — is Muma the one to target?

Strengths

Muma, the Lone Tree native, is an appealing option in the draft to Broncos Country, as he should be, considering just how talented a player he is.

He’s excellent when defending the run, as he showcases a fast processor and solid instincts that allow him to naturally feel the flow of the play, sort through traffic, and quickly bring the ball-carrier down.

You can see that feel and his ability to work through traffic on this goal-line stop against Fresno State.

The eagle eyes of Muma are rarely fooled by offensive window dressing, consistently making him one of the fastest players to react to the play, though he does have a problem being over-aggressive sometimes. Once he gets to the ball, Muma is more dependable than  Nikola Jokic in the post, with a rock-solid tackling technique and excellent physicality.

He doesn’t do the best job of disengaging blocks while attacking, but he is able to work through those blockers to make the stops anyway.

With all that said, he also has the pass coverage ability Broncos Country has long clamored for. He has the athletic tools in terms of frame, fluidity, and speed to hang with athletic tight ends in man coverage — though it’s not his specialty — and these traits paired with his terrific instincts help make him an excellent zone defender.

Plus, Muma has the ball skills and athleticism to turn those coverage skills into big plays. In 2021, he tallied three interceptions and returned two of those for touchdowns.

Muma is an excellent athletic tester as well, finishing with an official Relative Athletic Score (RAS) of 9.77, meaning he’s nearly a 98th-percentile athlete at the linebacker position.

At the Senior Bowl, he flashed that athleticism — and his impressive ability to work through traffic — as he tracked down Malik Willis on a scramble to make a touchdown-saving tackle.

Along with all his impressive, tangible traits, Muma has the intangibles that should get Broncos Country excited too. He was a mental and emotional leader for Wyoming and could routinely be spotted firing his teammates up on the sidelines or getting them properly aligned on the field. He’s a tape-junkie and a spark plug for the Cowboy defense.

Concerns

Muma is a terrific prospect and doesn’t have too many holes in his game, but there are aspects of his play that must improve for him to be the best version of himself at the NFL level.

He’s a very intelligent player with the eyes to sort through traffic, but sometimes his confidence in those abilities can get him into trouble. He’ll over-pursue the play and work himself out of position as a result.

That problem can be exacerbated by Muma’s average change of direction ability, which is probably his least impressive athletic trait. The nice thing is that Muma could stand to improve here, as his current issue appears to be adding extra steps to the process, and that can be refined. Now, Broncos Country would be foolish to assume that problem gets sorted out, as muscle memory often takes over when push comes to shove, but in theory, it is fixable.

Not only could the technique be refined, but we could also see Muma become more disciplined as gets more playing time.

On the first play here, you can see that over-pursuit, but you can also see how talented Muma is as a run defender despite that shortcoming.

Muma also has Type 1 diabetes, which hasn’t appeared to impact his play but should be noted nonetheless.

The last concern with Muma has nothing to do with the player, but instead, where the Broncos find themselves.

Denver has four linebackers they currently feel comfortable with. Muma has the ability to work his way up that depth chart somewhat, but he probably won’t contribute much outside special teams as a rookie, despite his pro-readiness. He also plays one of the least valuable defensive positions.

Meanwhile, the Broncos have opened a Super Bowl window by trading for Russell Wilson and would like to take advantage of that golden opportunity. In their pursuit of that dream, it would make more sense to spend their only top-70 pick on a player that can immediately contribute to Denver’s championship aspirations, rather than one that likely won’t be able to make a major impact until 2023.

Verdict

Considering positional value, and the likelihood to markedly impact Denver’s Lombardi hopes, Chad Muma might not be the ideal pick at No. 64 overall, but he would be a fantastic selection nonetheless. The Broncos would be foolish to turn their noses up at him, simply because of his projected 2022 impact and positional value.

Muma could easily end up being the best player available when Denver is on the clock, and if that does end up happening, they should select him.

Muma has a skillset that would compliment Browning well, and they would form an excellent, rangy linebacker combo that can boast major impacts on the opponent’s ability to attack through the air and on the ground.

With that said, this draft is deep at inside linebacker and the Broncos could remedy their need later on instead, while still adding a comparable talent. Muma is a talented player, the best of the mid-round linebackers and worthy of the 64th pick; but Denver would probably prefer it if a pass-rusher or tackle worthy of the 64th pick fell into their lap instead.

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