Martez Manuel, S, Missouri | NFL Draft Scouting Report

As his 2023 NFL Draft scouting report details, Missouri S Martez Manuel could be a coveted box safety at the next level, with the physicality to set the tone.

Missouri’s defense was one of the few that gave Georgia trouble in 2022, and 2023 NFL Draft S prospect Martez Manuel was a part of that. Manuel’s scouting report isn’t all-encompassing at the safety position, but he could go on to fill a niche role very well in the NFL.

Martez Manuel NFL Draft Profile

  • Position: Safety
  • School: Missouri
  • Current Year: Senior
  • Height/Weight: 5’10”, 208 pounds

Manuel had eligibility remaining in 2023, but chose instead to declare for the NFL draft following Missouri’s 2022 campaign. For an early declare, Manuel has surprisingly little buzz. But those who turn on the tape know about Manuel and what he can provide.

There’s even more intrigue in Manuel’s backstory. He was a standout track athlete in high school and a state runner-up in the 300-meter hurdles. Manuel was a three-star recruit who played primarily special teams in Year 1 before becoming a full-time starter in Year 2. Additionally, he was a respected two-time team captain for the Tigers.

Scouts will be captivated by Manuel’s background alone, but the production doesn’t need dressing up. As a starting strong safety for Missouri, Manuel has quietly been a consistent force of impact.

MORE: 100% Free NFL Mock Draft Simulator

From 2020 to 2022, Manuel amassed 190 total tackles, 25 tackles for loss, 11 sacks, an interception, 10 pass deflections, and three forced fumbles. In 2022 alone, Manuel had 10 tackles for loss — an absurd number for a defensive back and a figure that was third most on the team.

Manuel’s early declaration may have caught some by surprise. But looking at his background, production, and play style, there’s a good chance NFL evaluators are higher on the Missouri playmaker than his buzz would indicate.

Martez Manuel Scouting Report

Strengths

  • High-energy short-area athlete with good explosiveness and twitch.
  • Has a dense, compact frame that holds its own in close quarters.
  • Extremely tenacious box defender who brings relentless energy and a quick trigger.
  • Carries violent energy against blocks and eagerly combats anchors.
  • Ruthless pursuit defender who lives to make plays behind the line.
  • Has good tackling form in support and has the strength to stall runners.
  • Has good instincts in congestion and can flow to the ball with his athleticism.
  • Flashes good fluidity and coverage technique, and can react to breaks in the slot.
  • Brings legitimate chops as a blitzer and delayed pass rusher with bend and physicality.
  • Can make high-difficulty adjustments to convert on interception opportunities.

Areas for Improvement

  • Doesn’t have elite long-track range in pursuit.
  • Doesn’t always appear natural in coverage and can have staggered footwork.
  • Will rely on physicality to a fault to stick with receivers out of stems.
  • Grabs frequently in phase, bringing penalty risk.
  • Over-aggression can cause him to flush himself out of plays in the backfield.
  • Backpedal technique can be more efficient and composed at times.
  • Frame is naturally undersized and can be easily directed by offensive linemen.

Missouri S Martez Manuel Current Draft Projection

One of the more exciting sleepers in the 2023 NFL Draft, Manuel grades as a fringe Day 2 and priority Day 3 prospect on my board. The team that drafts him must have the right role in place for him, but his invigorating play style is impossible to ignore.

Manuel is 5’10” and 208 pounds of carnage. Few safeties in the 2023 NFL Draft play with the sheer energy and physicality that he does in the box. When Manuel has a lane in pursuit, he explodes into the backfield. And when he has to work through congestion, he violently combats and sheds blocks, and works toward plays with his short-area agility.

MORE: 2023 NFL Draft Big Board

Manuel thrives as a box safety who attacks plays head-on. But he also has some upside as a slot defender. While he’s still learning to use his physicality efficiently in coverage, Manuel’s tenacious style translates well in press. Beyond that, he has the fast feet, fluidity, and burst out of transitions to hold his own in the short and intermediate ranges.

There will be an acclimation period for Manuel as a coverage defender in the NFL, and he doesn’t quite have the elite range or recovery speed to compensate. But for teams in search of a hybrid slot or box safety who sets the tone downhill, erases run plays in support, and has the necessary coverage building blocks, Manuel is near the top of the list.

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