South Carolina cornerback Israel Mukuamu
If you’re looking for a tall, long, and physical cornerback, Israel Mukuamu out of South Carolina is an option to consider. Standing at 6’4″ and 205 pounds, Mukuamu is an outlier at the cornerback position. In the 2020 season, his stock started to rise following his Second Team All-SEC selection by the associated press for his 2019 performance. In 12 games last season, he put together nine pass breakups and has six interceptions in 17 games over the last two seasons.
With Mukuamu, it all begins at the line of scrimmage. His best production comes from press-man coverages, allowing him to get his hands on receivers at the line of scrimmage. He does a great job of forcing receivers to the sideline and staying on top of the route. When he can get his hands on his opponent early, he’s a nightmare to play against.
Being a cornerback of his size, some stiffness in his hips limit some of his change of direction. When playing in off-man, he has excellent speed breaking downhill but can sometimes allow the underneath routes with some hesitation on whether or not to close. That’s likely due to the fear of being beat deep by a double-move. When working vertically, the junior has enough long speed to keep up with most receivers in a trail technique.
His length and size give him a massive advantage when attacking the catch point. Even when he is late to break on a route, his length allows him to get a hand on the ball. With strong hands, Mukuamu uses his size to his advantage at the catch point and has the hands to come down with the ball.
Mukuamu is another cornerback in this class that holds nothing back when attacking the run game. Using his length and power to get off of blocks at the line of scrimmage, he is a consistent open-field tackler who loves to lay a hit on running backs.
Given his stiffness and size, Mukuamu is best suited to playing in press-man coverage on the boundary. Lacking the quick-twitch athleticism and short-area quickness to play the slot, his production comes from getting physical at the line of scrimmage and disrupting timing. Spagnuolo loves cornerbacks with these skill sets on the boundary. He often has the safeties providing help over the top to allow for that aggressiveness early in the route.