The 2023 NFL Draft class features a stacked group of defenders, and Penn State defensive tackle PJ Mustipher is a name to watch as the draft approaches. While likely a late Day 3 player, Mustipher brings plenty of intangibles to the NFL after a successful college career.
While most of the conversation has been focused on the top names in the class, what does Mustipher’s scouting report suggest about his NFL draft stock?
PJ Mustipher NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Defensive Tackle
- School: Penn State
- Year: Fifth-Year Senior
The path to the NFL draft is different for everyone. Some players watch their draft stock rise like a rocket ship, while others have a more tumultuous career. That was the case for Mustipher.
A consensus four-star prospect out of McDonogh School in Maryland, Mustipher was the No. 6 defensive tackle and No. 4 prospect in the state. Mustipher saw action right when he stepped on campus, appearing in 12 games as a true freshman. He made his first start in 2019 and then started all nine games in 2020 as an honorable mention All-Big Ten honoree by the coaches and the media. Mustipher recorded 35 tackles (12 solo) with 1.5 tackles for loss, one sack, two QB hurries, and one pass breakup.
However, things went differently in 2021. A team captain, Mustipher made six starts and tallied 21 tackles before tearing his ACL in his left knee against Iowa, which ended his season. Despite being draft-eligible, Mustipher elected to return for one more year and play the 2022 season in Happy Valley.
After all the rehab and hard work, Mustipher started 12 games at DT, totaling 34 tackles with one tackle for loss and a QB hurry. Mustipher was elected second-team All-Big Ten by the coaches and the AP, and third-team by the media.
Mustipher played in a total of 53 career games at Penn State, starting 28 of them. He finished with 145 tackles, 11.0 tackles for loss, 3.0 sacks, one pass breakup, and two forced fumbles.
“It’s been a long road, but, you know, I kind of have put that behind me just to understand that stuff’s going to happen,” said Mustipher following his injury. “I use that to catapult me into my career, especially now and at the next level that, you know, challenges are going to come. You just got to be willing to put in the work, and, you know, you can overcome it.”
Mustipher went on to compete at both his pro day and the NFL Combine but lacked the speed and athleticism shown by many of the other defensive tackles. However, there’s far more on Mustipher’s scouting report that is worth discussing rather than simply looking at the times and results.
Tony Pauline’s Scouting Report for PJ Mustipher
Strengths: Quick, athletic defensive tackle who fires off the snap with an explosive first step, plays with great pad level, and splits double-team blocks to get behind the line of scrimmage. Works his hands throughout the action, shows agility for a bigger lineman, and keeps his feet moving. Instinctive and immediately locates the ball handler. Gives a lot of effort.
Weaknesses: Inconsistent. Doesn’t play strong football for a 315-pound DT, and doesn’t show great bull-rush strength. Really doesn’t make a lot of plays on the ball despite his athleticism.
Overall: Mustipher is a player I’ve watched the past four seasons, and he was a solid defensive lineman on the college level. He never really took his game to the next level as I thought possible and always left me thinking he was capable of more. Mustipher possesses the size, athleticism, and speed to play on Sundays, but he must elevate his game and really do more than occupy gaps.
PJ Mustipher Combine Measurements and Results
- Height: 6’4″
- Weight: 320
- Arm Length: 32 3/4″
- Hand Size: 9″
- Bench Press: 19
- 40-Yard Dash: 5.41
- Vertical Jump: 27.5″
- Broad Jump: 8’0″
Penn State DT PJ Mustipher Current Draft Projection
The 2023 NFL Draft is primed with talent across the board. That holds true at defensive tackle, where Jalen Carter might be the best player on the board. Still, there remains plenty of depth at the position.
Unfortunately, for someone like Mustipher, it could be a very long draft. He’s currently the 19th-ranked DT and the 248th-ranked player in Tony Pauline’s Big Board. With a draft grade of 3.29, Moore has a projected draft capital that places him in the seventh round of the 2023 NFL Draft.
Mustipher has an uphill battle to climb as he’ll be likely fighting to make a team by the time final rosters are set. But the talent is there for Mustipher to make some noise in camp and fight for a backup spot. A leader at Penn State and an example of hard work, if given the chance, Mustipher could be a valuable late-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.
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