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    Malik Mustapha’s Draft Profile | Wake Forest, S Scouting Report

    With his 2024 NFL Draft scouting report, can Wake Forest S Malik Mustapha be an impact NFL defender in the mold of Antoine Winfield Jr.?

    You don’t always hear Wake Forest star Malik Mustapha’s name mentioned among the top prospects in the 2024 NFL Draft safety class, but perhaps he should be a part of that group. What does Mustapha bring to the table, and what is his ceiling at the NFL level?

    Malik Mustapha Draft Profile and Measurements

    • Height: 5’9 7/8″
    • Weight: 210 pounds
    • Length: 30 1/8″
    • Wingspan: 73 1/4″
    • Hand: 8 7/8″
    • Position: Safety
    • School: Wake Forest
    • Current Year: Senior

    The year was 2020. In a truncated, COVID-19-impacted season, Richmond true freshman Mustapha recorded just 17 total tackles. It wasn’t a dominant first impression — but it was enough to earn him the interest of the Wake Forest Demon Deacons.

    From there, Mustapha quickly morphed into a menacing defensive presence at the Power Five level. He played in 13 games during Wake Forest’s double-digit win 2021 campaign, amassing 37 tackles, two tackles for loss, two interceptions, and two pass breakups. In 2022, he notched career-highs in TFLs (8) and sacks (3) and forced two fumbles.

    2023 was another strong season for Mustapha — now a team captain — who racked up 80 tackles, five TFLs, a half-sack, an interception, two pass breakups, and a forced fumble. Mustapha earned an invite to the Reese’s Senior Bowl, where he fared well.

    All this, and there’s still a sense that the best is yet to come for Mustapha. A gifted athlete with a taste for physicality, he’s sure to win the affection of NFL scouts and defensive coordinators alike.

    Mustapha’s Scouting Report

    Strengths

    • Sports a well-leveraged, hyper-dense frame and can levy crushing hits with physicality.
    • Hyper-elite explosive threat who rockets downhill in support and instantly closes gaps.
    • Instant, fleet-footed accelerator whose speed and range can evaporate paths upfield.
    • Twitched-up, energetic short-area athlete who can snap into phase to carry WRs.
    • Has the hip fluidity to turn and run with WRs and keep speed after pedaling to depth.
    • Uses his fluidity to maintain his tracking angle in support while scraping across blocks.
    • Flashes elite play recognition and reaction speed, using pre-snap footwork to diagnose.
    • Able to backpedal and manage his hip leverage while traversing intermediate zones.
    • Shows glimpses of exceptional playmaking range from two-high and single-high.
    • Flashes instant click-and-close ability and plant-and-drive quickness as an off-man slot.
    • Turnover-generating presence with forced fumble propensity and flashes solid ball skills.
    • Attacks run fits with aggression, routinely playing square to gaps and enveloping RBs.
    • Has good angle IQ on the frontside of runs and can deconstruct blocks before engaging.
    • Has shown he can roll his base to keep leverage and can forcefully rip through anchors.
    • Tenacious blitzing threat who unleashes his full explosiveness and combative energy.

    Weaknesses

    • Has below-average length, which can limit his disruption radius at the catch point.
    • Sometimes swings his back foot too wide when planting and driving overtop stems.
    • Muscle-bound frame can slightly limit his sink and transition freedom in single-high.
    • Is occasionally a tick late to diagnose run directions and trigger in boundary pursuit.
    • Misdirection plays can induce wasted motion and angle indecision, delaying response.
    • At times, initial pursuit angles are too narrow, cornering him inside sealing WR blocks.
    • Can still strive for a better balance of patience and decisiveness when monitoring gaps.
    • Generally has room to process blocking angles and key in on run directions a tick faster.
    • Can be over-zealous triggering on play-action fakes, voiding zones in coverage.
    • Sometimes flows past optimal take-on angles as a tackler, impacting tackle leverage.
    • At times, lurches and lowers his head as a tackler, grazing past ball carriers.
    • Can sometimes be a bit late to extend and target the football at the catch point.
    • Has an uncertain projection in the slot, as length may detract from press-man utility.

    Current Draft Projection and Summary

    Mustapha grades out as a top-64 prospect in the 2024 NFL Draft and a top-five safety prospect on my board. He could ultimately command early-to-mid Day 2 capital after testing and would be an incredible value addition if he were to fall to Day 3.

    In a modern NFL, where versatility and disruptive ability at the line are equally valuable traits for a safety to have, Mustapha could be one of the most underrated prospects in the 2024 NFL Draft, regardless of position.

    Within the box, Mustapha is an absolute menace and homing missile with his closing speed, play strength, and physicality. But he also has the instincts to recognize plays pre-snap, stay square to gaps, and the targeted physicality to splice his way through blocks and work to tackles.

    In coverage, Mustapha is much more fluid than one would expect for his rocked-up 210-pound frame, and he also has measured versatility between single-high, two-high, and the slot, where he can play off-man and use his closing speed to suffocate WRs overtop.

    KEEP READING: Top Safeties in the 2024 NFL Draft

    Mustapha might not have all-encompassing freedom across single-high and the slot. His lacking length impacts his press-man projection, and his ball tracking can be more consistent. But as a coverage DB with some versatility and RB eraser utility, Mustapha has the short-area energy, hinge fluidity, swathing range, and hip leverage IQ to thrive.

    Additionally, if he lands with a creative defensive coordinator, Mustapha’s instant explosiveness, space-eating speed, and zealous tenacity can be weaponized in the box as a blitzing threat and as a gap attacker in the run game. And as a cherry on top, he’s a textbook hustle player who will re-enter pursuit even after getting knocked off his feet.

    GET DRAFTING: FREE Mock Draft Simulator With Trades

    If Mustapha can further hone his catch-point instincts and shore up his tackling technique, he has the ceiling of a two-phase impact starter, in a similar mold to Tampa Bay’s Antoine Winfield Jr. — with dual-sided coverage and disruptive versatility.

    Draft with your friends today! PFN’s Mock Draft Simulator now supports multiple drafters during the same draft! Ensure your player rankings are up to date on the 2024 NFL Draft Big Board and you know what every NFL team needs before drafting.

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