In a space-dominated modern NFL, Oregon State TE Luke Musgrave might just have the 2023 NFL Draft scouting report to cultivate excitement in offensive coordinators. Here’s more on Musgrave’s upside, projection, and where he might come off the board.
Luke Musgrave NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Tight End
- School: Oregon State
- Current Year: Redshirt Junior
- Height/Weight: 6’6″, 250 pounds
Odds are, you haven’t seen Musgrave for a while. He played his most recent football game in early September against Fresno State. Through the season’s first two games, he was on a torrid pace, with 11 catches for 169 yards and a touchdown over that stretch. But a knee injury suffered at the end of the Fresno State game took away his season.
That knee injury likely took away the elite production that we’d been hoping to see from Musgrave. 2021 was previously his career-best season, with 22 catches for 304 yards. We’ll have to use our imagination with how great his 2022 could have been. Luckily, it’s easy to let the imagination run with the tools that Musgrave possesses.
Musgrave — the nephew of former NFL QB and long-time NFL coach Bill Musgrave — was a Feldman Freak this summer, with several numbers telling of potentially elite athleticism. Among those numbers: a 4.51 40-yard dash, a 36.5″ vertical, a 10’2″ broad jump, and a 4.21 agility time.
Luke Musgrave Scouting Report
Teams bet on tools, and Musgrave certainly has that on his side. But how do those tools translate on the field, and how does he build off them in his current form?
The reported numbers tease at Musgrave’s upside, but the tape is what confirms it. At 6’6″, 250 pounds, Musgrave is a tall, lean athlete with excellent length, and his explosive component is arguably elite.
Musgrave is an extremely explosive long-striding athlete who accelerates with excellent quickness in open space. He shows off high-end accelerative capacity when attacking zones downfield and can get upfield quickly and stress coverages when opening his strides.
Beyond that, he’s able to gear up along slanted paths with curvilinear acceleration, attacking space at acute angles, and he flashes superb initial burst as well.
With Musgrave’s long-strider mold also comes near-elite downfield speed for the tight end position. The Oregon State TE has the long speed to stress defenses vertically and attack open seams. In a more impressive lens, he’s proven he has the speed to stack safeties when he has a runway. He can get past deep coverage and convert on big plays — something not many tight ends can do.
Musgrave is more of a linear athlete, but he does have good functional agility for his size. He flashes amped-up movement and corrective twitch and can supplement direction changes with urgency.
He has the lateral athleticism and hip sink to off-set linebackers in space with brutal jab-steps, then explode upfield into open lanes. Plus, he also has enough lateral freedom and foot speed to execute in-breakers over the middle of the field and gain separation.
Elastic athleticism is one of Musgrave’s defining traits, and it’s something teams will be able to build around. But as an added bonus, the Oregon State TE also brings phenomenal catching instincts and hands to the fold. Musgrave instinctively elevates and extends beyond his frame for high-difficulty passes and is very smooth on adjustments in stride upfield.
In the intermediate range and the deep third, Musgrave tracks the ball very well and flashes an excellent sense of timing at the catch point. He’s a very natural contortionist who can make high-difficulty adjustments with impressive comfort, and he instinctively protects the ball with his frame upon nearing the ground.
When in position, Musgrave boasts extremely consistent hand technique. He routinely snares passes away from his frame and quickly gathers while transitioning to the RAC phase. He proactively catches the ball away from his frame, securing with the diamond hand technique, and he has the hand/eye coordination to naturally guide passes in downfield while sustaining strides.
Expanding on his hand work, Musgrave has shown he has enough hand strength at the catch point to snatch passes away through prying arms, as well as secure throws amidst impending contact over the middle of the field. He’ll also proactively use his length to establish a lever and give himself space while tracking passes downfield.
Musgrave can work to keep getting stronger, but he does have a promising targeted physicality element to his game. He’s shown he can use targeted swipes to slice past linebackers at the second level. Moreover, he can use his frame to wall off defenders off stems while wearing down and peeling through coverage with his long-strider athleticism.
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Oregon State’s offense utilized Musgrave’s skill set very effectively while he was healthy. And in the process, Musgrave showcased promise as a route runner. He’s most dangerous as a seam threat, as he has great zone awareness. He can sneak into LB blind spots and capitalize with his long-strider speed — but his separation appeal goes beyond that.
Musgrave flashes good foot speed and stopping ability ahead of stems. For his size, he can quickly decelerate and swivel around on curls and comebacks, and he flashes excellent foot speed and ease of motion on releases. He can use skip and diamond releases to off-set defenders early in reps, and that displacement is key for unlocking Musgrave’s burst.
Going further, Musgrave can freeze DBs with initial angles upfield, then surge inside and capitalize with his explosiveness. He’s fairly intentional with his eyes and doesn’t tip route direction with early turns. He has especially strong spatial awareness in congested areas and knows how to open space for himself.
After the catch, Musgrave has excellent instincts when repositioning to attack space. With unyielding consistency, he’s able to quickly reset his feet for yards after the catch. And his explosiveness allows him to make the most of tight seams.
In spite of his pass-heavy usage, Musgrave has a solid functional floor as a blocker. He provides good urgency, at the very least, quickly reaching his assignments and latching with force. In pass protection, he’s able to square up defensive linemen and chip, and he can use his athleticism and length to wall off surging opponents.
In the running game, meanwhile, Musgrave has shown he can acquire leverage with knee bend, then use his length and hips to torque through defenders. With his corrective twitch, he can reposition himself and maintain leverage blocking upfield, and with his leg drive, he can direct defenders out of paths.
Musgrave’s Areas for Improvement
Musgrave profiles as a valuable weapon in the passing game at the next level, but he can still further refine his game as a route runner and expand his route tree a bit more.
From a universal standpoint, he can make an effort to employ more stride variations and press upfield more ahead of stems. Musgrave doesn’t have elite hip sink, and he sometimes struggles to reduce and redirect at sharp stems and needs extra steps to gather. In a similar vein, he can be a bit leggy and inefficient at times, showing drift on breaks.
Play strength after the catch and as a blocker also comes up as a concern for Musgrave, who’s notably lean for his size. His stiff arms aren’t often strong enough to pry through solo tackles, and he doesn’t have exceptional mass or leg churn through contact, consistently going down on the first attempt.
As a blocker, Musgrave’s lacking strength can prevent him from controlling and driving out defenders on the play side. That issue is exacerbated when Musgrave plays too tall, allowing defenders into his frame. Beyond that, his feet and hands can be a bit frantic at times.
Among other things, while Musgrave is a phenomenal athlete, he can play more upright than preferred. And in the catching phase, he does have occasional lapses with hand/eye coordination, where he lets the ball get into his frame.
Current Draft Projection for Oregon State TE Luke Musgrave
Musgrave only played two games in 2022, but those two games were enough to solidify his position as a potential early-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. Off the tape, he grades safely in the Day 2 range and could be one of the first tight ends taken off the board.
The offseason will be particularly big for Musgrave, who has a Senior Bowl showing and a crucial NFL Combine appearance on deck. The Combine will be a major event for Musgrave with both testing and medicals. He can draw teams in with his testing numbers and quell concerns about the knee injury that knocked him out for most of the 2022 campaign.
If the medicals check out, there’s little standing in the way of Musgrave making an early-round ascent. In the modern NFL, he’s an incredibly exciting fit with his long-strider explosiveness and speed, combined with his high-level instincts and coordination at the catch point.
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Musgrave can still work to get stronger, and there’s room for further refinement as a route runner as well. But he’s not a stiff separator like some tight ends prove to be.
He has the necessary lateral freedom and flexibility to add another dimension to his game beyond the vertical element. And already, he’s an incredibly dangerous seam threat, middle-of-the-field weapon, and RAC threat underneath.
Musgrave can be an alignment-versatile contributor right away in the NFL, and he has impact starter potential at his maximum. Musgrave’s tools are rare and tailor-made for the passing attacks we see today.