At times in the 2023 NFL Draft cycle, Oregon State TE Luke Musgrave was presented as a sleeper first-round pick. Does Musgrave have the raw ability required to be in the same conversation as Dalton Kincaid and Michael Mayer? Let’s take a look at Musgrave’s composite profile and discuss.
Luke Musgrave NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Tight End
- School: Oregon State
- Current Year: Redshirt Junior
- Height/Weight: 6’5 7/8″, 253 pounds
- Length: 32 5/8″
- Hand: 10 3/8″
Odds are, you haven’t seen Musgrave for a while. He played his most recent football game in early September of 2022 against Fresno State. Through the year’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 in the summer of 2022, 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.
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Musgrave didn’t run quite as fast once he finally completed his testing, but his numbers in the 2023 offseason still confirmed his rare traits. At his size, Musgrave ran a 4.61 40-yard dash with a 1.58 10-yard split in the 95th percentile. His 10’5″ broad jump was near the 97th percentile, and his 7.09 three-cone was also in the top quartile among TEs.
All this is to say: Upside is a prime selling point with Musgrave. There’s also some concern, however, that it’s one of his only selling points, and that there’s plenty of work still to be done on his game. Is that the case? To answer that, let’s dive deeper into the tape.
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 numbers tease at Musgrave’s upside, but the tape is what confirms it. At 6’6″, 253 pounds, Musgrave is a tall, lean tight end prospect with solid 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, Musgrave is 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, whose 60-yard speed is better than his 40-yard speed, but he does have good functional agility for his size, nonetheless. He flashes amped-up movement and corrective twitch and can supplement direction changes with urgency.
Going further, Musgrave 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 shows flashes of superb catching instincts 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 with proficiency, 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 has shown he can snare passes away from his frame with solid technique, though he can be more consistent. Additionally, he quickly gathers while transitioning to the RAC phase, and he has the hand/eye coordination to naturally guide passes in downfield while sustaining strides. Musgrave works best when he has more time and space to track the ball.
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 decent 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 hands catcher, as well as expand his route tree a bit more.
From a universal standpoint, Musgrave 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. In some instances, he’ll need extra steps to gather himself before making transitions. In a similar vein, he can be a bit leggy and inefficient at times, showing drift on breaks.
While Musgrave flashes excellent catching instincts, body control, and hands at the catch point, his hand technique can be more consistent. Albeit in a small sample size, he has one of the higher drop rates among tight ends. He’ll sometimes clap-catch the ball, and he can be more coordinated flowing to the ball and maintaining diamond technique with his hands.
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, and he doesn’t always have an elite motor in the blocking phase.
Among other things, while Musgrave is a phenomenal athlete, he can play more upright than preferred. He’s an elastic athlete with tantalizing explosiveness, but that tall playstyle can work against him in multiple phases.
Current Draft Projection for Oregon State TE Luke Musgrave
Musgrave carries a top-100 grade on my board in the 2023 NFL Draft. He’s well worth Day 2 capital and has tools worth developing, but there’s also a gap between him and the TE prospects in the first-round range. Nevertheless, with his upside, he could be one of the first tight ends taken off the board.
The foundation of Musgrave’s appeal as a prospect rests in his elite size/explosiveness combination. He perfectly fits the mold of the long-striding seam buster at TE — not just with his elite burst upfield and his ball-tracking ability but also his zone awareness and his flexibility as a route runner.
Beyond that seam-specific role, Musgrave lacks the desired variability from an early-round TE prospect. While he flashes phenomenal catching instincts, he can be more consistent with his hand technique. While he flashes vital route-running building blocks, he can still expand his route tree. And as a blocker, while he has desirable traits, overarching consistency can be an issue, too.
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Nevertheless, in spite of Musgrave’s flaws and his need for increased play strength, he has the ideal frame and burst, and 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 pure vertical element. And already, he’s a dangerous seam threat, middle-of-the-field weapon, and RAC option underneath.
Musgrave can be an alignment-versatile contributor right away in the NFL. He’s better off as a rotational seam threat early on, but he has impact starter potential at his maximum. Musgrave’s tools are rare and tailor-made for the passing attacks we see today.