NAME: Israel Mukuamu
SCHOOL: South Carolina
WEIGHT: 205 pounds
Israel Mukuamu grew up in Moncks Corner, South Carolina, where he originally attended Berkeley Senior High School. He moved to Bossier City, Louisiana before his senior season. While there, Mukuamu played at Parkway High School. He committed to play at Florida State originally. However, he decommitted later on, and chose to play college football at South Carolina.
Upon joining the Gamecocks defense, the three-star recruit brought some cornerback and safety versatility to the table. Mukuamu saw sporadic action during his freshman season of 2018. Even with only appearing in five games, he managed an interception, a pass deflection, a forced fumble and two tackles for loss. South Carolina increased the defender’s role in 2019. And it was well worth it. Mukuamu gave opposing receivers fits, while also leading with significant ball production. He managed 59 total tackles, four interceptions (three in one game) and nine pass deflections. Afterwards, Mukuamu was named second team All-SEC. His 2020 season was not only affected by a schedule surrounded with COVID. He dealt with a groin injury, and the firing of head coach Will Muschamp prompted his sudden opt out for the rest of the season. This came in mid-November, where Mukuamu then quickly turned to focusing on the 2021 NFL Draft. He still managed two interceptions on the short year.
- 2021 Chiefs Draft Prospect: Spencer Brown
- 2021 Chiefs Draft Prospect: Janarius Robinson
- 2021 Chiefs Draft Prospect: Ben Cleveland
- 2021 Chiefs Draft Prospect: Nico Collins
- 2021 Chiefs Draft Prospect: Aaron Robinson
Mukuamu displays an instinctive nose for the football. Not only does he rarely lose sight of it, but he also appears comfortable in traffic. On plays where the cornerback is able to get a hand on it, Mukuamu does well to slow down and play it smart. He has soft, natural hands at the catch point. His nature is aggressive and well timed when looking to intercept the ball or break up the pass. Mukuamu is also gifted with ample length. As a result, he is able to make catches or pass breakups, by outstretching beyond his frame. Mukuamu can takeover a game and wreck plans for a passing attack in the blink of an eye.
There are a few issues with timing and reacting to the play. However, Mukuamu does a good job of never taking himself completely out of position to make a play. Coaches will appreciate his ability to keep the play in front of him. Even if Mukuamu has to drive down with a lateral angle, he keeps his chest and shoulders forward, rather than turning his back on the receiver or the football. His results are still fairly solid with his back turned as well. Mukuamu can bite on fakes and counters from time to time. Nevertheless, he usually recovers quickly and gets his long arms in the throwing lane.
Mukuamu loves to get his hands on the opposing receivers at the start of the play. Obviously, his long arms make this easy. Receivers wind up losing their footing, or becoming stagnant with their feet altogether. But, this does not just occur on plays where Mukuamu is pressing at the line of scrimmage. He has a keen knack of being able to time and disrupt plays just before the ball reaches the catch point. Every rep, Mukuamu shows physicality, toughness and aggressiveness. This is part of the reason, as to why Kansas City could be very interested in him. Overall, these attributes are a big part of what you want at cornerback. That ability to compete, drive and provide consistent production is a necessity.
All in all, Mukuamu moves more smoothly than past defensive backs of his large size. There are still some limitations, however. Mukuamu can be high hipped in his backpedals. This can result in him getting out of breaks or transitioning a bit slower than one would like. To boot, he does not appear to have the most fluid hips, when turning and running. You can see him attempt to counteract this occasionally. Mukuamu will look to turn and run sooner than he needs to, which can cause issues against shiftier receivers.
Along with that lack of twitch, Mukuamu is not the quickest defensive back. Plays that cannot be kept in front of him, can go awry. I would not call it consistent panic. Yet, there is some indecisiveness that resonates on certain in-breaking routes or deep patterns. Along with the aforementioned lack of flexibility as a whole, Mukuamu can become stiff in those situations. His long strides are not enough to keep up with the opponent. Developing smoother mechanics and technique will go a long way for him in this regard.
Mukuamu is not afraid to lay a shoulder into someone and make a tackle. Though, he can be a bit reckless in that area. Ball carriers with sturdy contact balance and power can twist and turn off of Mukuamu, and create broken tackles. Elsewhere, this corner can become too grabby when playing certain routes. It is hard to nitpick on if that is really an issue or not. We know how quick NFL referees are to grab the yellow flag, however. Finally, Mukuamu will need to learn how to become more patient against fakes and counters used by receivers.
Kansas City Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo would have a lot of fun with Israel Mukuamu. Given how South Carolina used him in a variety of ways, he can become a neutralizer when playing different skillsets. Against bigger bodied and more physical tight ends, this defender can slide into somewhat of a slot safety role. The same goes for when the Chiefs would be facing a big slot presence at wide receiver. This should not be taken as something, where Mukuamu cannot play outside. He is also very capable there. With his history of ball production and his noticeable instincts, this player would be a welcome addition to the Kansas City secondary. Plus, teams will covet his physicality and length.
Be on the lookout for more FPC Chiefs draft prospect profiles throughout the rest of the spring. For more great sports and NFL content, stay tuned to Full Press Coverage.
– Braden Holecek is the Kansas City Chiefs managing editor for Full Press Coverage. He covers the NFL. Like and follow on Follow @ebearcat9//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js Follow @FPC_Chiefs//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js and Facebook.