2020 NFL Draft Profile: Fresno State OL Netane Muti
Tantalizing raw strength and a worrisome injury history make the Bulldogs offensive lineman one of 2020’s most fascinating draft prospects.
How much risk does the NFL see in Muti?
The Denver Broncos took the Fresno State offensive lineman to help add some depth to that group and help protect Drew Lock.
Here’s a thought exercise for you: Who is the best NFL player to ever come out of Fresno State?
Some of the names that probably come to mind right away are the obvious ones. Trent Dilfer won a Super Bowl. Davante Adams is looking better and better every season out in Green Bay these days and Henry Ellard is still one of the most underrated wide receivers in the league’s history. The one name you forget, however, might actually be the best one of all: Logan Mankins.
Now, Fresno State might have produced Mankins’s spiritual successor in the form of a native Tongan with freakish strength. How will NFL teams weigh that against a checkered injury history?
Though he was limited at the NFL Combine, the bench press ended up becoming a showcase for Muti’s physical prowess. That 99th-percentile performance is no fluke, either, as The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman noted back in 2018 that Muti, then a sophomore, could power clean 345 pounds and bench up to 425.
If you’re worried the weight room performance isn’t functional, though, rest assured that it is. “Tenacious” and synonyms like “mean” and “aggressive” are descriptors that pop up a lot in draft analyst reports, though he also gets high praise for his hand work in particular. The Athletic’s Dane Brugler describes them as “meat hooks” with “grip strength to sustain and toss”, while NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein noted an ability to “[uproot an] opponent’s anchor when drive blocking” and Kyle Crabbs of The Draft Network adds that he is “capable of yanking defenders out of gaps”.
The injury history will inevitably give many NFL teams pause and throws the risk-reward equation up in the air. Beyond that, however, it’s impossible to ignore that the length of Muti’s arms is among the shortest of all NFL Combine participants over the past 20 years. If he’s unable to keep defenders from closing quickly on a consistent basis, it could create some early headaches that will need to be resolved through development.
Nearly every analyst points to his balance as a current hindrance, as well, with Zierlein pointing to an “extra wide pass protection base” as a potential culprit. Additionally, Brugler and TDN’s Joe Marino point to Muti’s footwork as an area for improvement.
Despite playing only 19 games over three seasons at Fresno State, there’s little doubt that Muti can be an impact player if he can stay healthy. That risk will shut him out of being a first-round pick, but it’d be a huge shock to see him slip out of Day Two. I expect he’ll be a late pick in the second round and, though I’m typically loath to make specific predictions, I’d be shocked if he doesn’t get selected by any of the three lineman-hungry teams — Baltimore, Seattle, and the Los Angeles Rams — with multiple picks at that juncture.