Israel Mukuamu and Jaycee Horn came into the 2020 college football season with similar NFL Draft stock. However, since then, the South Carolina safety has trended in the opposite direction. Where does his stock currently sit, and where does he fit in the NFL?
Israel Mukuamu NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Safety
- School: South Carolina
- Current Year: Junior
- Height: 6’4″
- Weight: 205 pounds
Tony Pauline’s Israel Mukuamu Scouting Report
Positives: Athletic cornerback with nice size but an unpolished game. Quick to read and diagnose, possesses outstanding length, and works hard making plays. Jams receivers at the line of scrimmage, uses his large frame to box out opponents, and physically beats down pass catchers to defend the throw.
Effective facing the action, does a good job recognizing routes in zone coverage, and has a nice move to the throw. Tracks the pass in the air and displays good hands for the interception.
Negatives: Tends to lose a sense of where the receiver is on occasion. Slow to react. Possesses an average closing burst.
Analysis: Mukuamu possesses outstanding measurables and has flashed skill, but he needs a lot of work in his game. Best facing the action, he’s well-suited for zone coverage, and may even get consideration at safety in the NFL.
Israel Mukuamu Player Profile
From South Carolina to Louisiana and back, Israel Mukuamu’s journey to the 2021 NFL Draft is almost as fluctuating as his stock. The lanky safety started his career playing for the Berkeley Stags. As a junior, he helped transform the school from a losing program to having a 9-3 record in 2016.
Before his senior season, he moved to Bossier City, Louisiana, and played high school football for the Parkway Panthers. His performances there saw him named to the All-Southwest Region team. Additionally, he earned an invite to the Offense-Defense All-American Bowl.
Following his move to Louisiana, he was ranked as the 27th player in the state by 247 Sports. A three-star recruit and 47th-ranked safety prospect, he earned attention from across the nation. After visiting five schools, he committed to Florida State. Yet, when Jimbo Fisher left to coach Texas A&M, he de-committed.
The coaching change allowed him to return home to South Carolina to play safety for the Gamecocks.
Israel Mukuamu’s college football career at South Carolina
Upon his return home, he made an immediate impact as a freshman. He played in 13 games while earning starts against Akron and Virginia. Although he would play cornerback more during his career, Israel Mukuamu’s first start came at safety for South Carolina. He’d already snagged his first career interception against Chattanooga. Nevertheless, his range of contribution — 1 tackle for loss, 1 forced fumble, and 1 pass breakup — was impressive.
He finished his freshman season with 17 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 1 interception, 1 pass breakup, and 1 forced fumble. In addition to his playmaking qualities, he demonstrated versatility lining up at safety and cornerback.
He opened his sophomore season at safety before starting the remainder of the season at cornerback. It would be a year that placed him firmly under national eyes. One game served as a highlight reel of his skill set. In a shocking win over the Georgia Bulldogs, he received National Defensive Player of the Week honors. Furthermore, he rewrote program records.
Sophomore season sees his NFL Draft stock soar
The lanky playmaker intercepted Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm three times. Additionally, he took one interception 53 yards for a touchdown. In doing so, he became the first South Carolina defensive back to record 3 interceptions in one game since 1988.
Thanks to that performance and an interception earlier in the year against Charleston Southern, he finished the season with the most interceptions by a South Carolina cornerback since 2015.
Having earned third-team All-SEC honors for his sophomore season, expectations were high for Mukuamu heading into 2020. There was talk about South Carolina having two cornerbacks drafted in the first round. Unfortunately for Israel Mukuamu, his play didn’t live up to expectations, and his NFL Draft stock plummeted.
Despite 2 interceptions, he wasn’t as dazzling as the previous year. However, that may be due to him battling a groin injury through the season.
He opted out of the season following the departure of head coach Will Muschamp. Although there were three games left, he began his preparation for the draft.
Israel Mukuamu’s best fits in the 2021 NFL Draft
Due to his incredible height, Israel Mukuamu is viewed by some as an outside cornerback in the 2021 NFL Draft. On the other hand, his versatility demonstrated in college points to him being able to fill multiple roles at the next level. That versatility may help overcome the disappointing end to his college football career he endured.
If he can convince teams that his injury attributed to his downturn in performance, he may present a Day 3 steal for a franchise.
Teams in the market for a playmaker in the secondary include the Buffalo Bills, Green Bay Packers, Seattle Seahawks, and Dallas Cowboys. Incidentally, the Cowboys are a team frequently linked to his former teammate, Jaycee Horn.
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