Chad Muma, Legend and Wyoming product, projects as second- or third-round pick in NFL Draft

For those wondering how Chad Muma went from a relatively unheralded prep recruit to one of the top inside linebackers on this year’s NFL draft board, the Senior Bowl tape provides the answer.

In that game, the former Legend High and University of Wyoming star boosted his profile following consecutive seasons of first-team All-Mountain West Conference honors. He led all players with nine tackles (five solo), including an impressive chase down of Liberty quarterback Malik Willis in the open field to prevent a touchdown.

“Willis was at the 40-yard line, and he decided to run and he came across the field from right to left, and all of a sudden it looked like Willis was going to score a touchdown by running it all the way in,” ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. recalled. “But at the five-yard-line, who tackled him? It was Chad Muma.

“And that’s what he does — he’s a really good tackler, a smart and instinctive football player.”

Plays like that have Muma projected as a second- or third-round pick in next week’s draft. Teams see a heady inside linebacker with speed and hustle, capable of evolving into a tackling machine in the NFL like he was in Laramie.

In 2021, Muma was a finalist for the Butkus Award for college football’s best linebacker. He followed that up with eye-catching performances at the Senior Bowl and NFL combine, where he ran a 4.63-second 40-yard dash. At 6-foot-4, 240 pounds, Muma says he’s confident he can fit in either a 3-4 or 4-3 system after playing in the Cowboys’ 4-2-5 scheme.

“I see myself as an impactful linebacker no matter the system,” Muma said. “I could really make a difference as one of those green-dot type of players where I’m able to make the calls, make the checks. I’m confident in my ability to do that.”

Muma’s taken visits with the Broncos, Panthers and Jaguars, had workouts in Laramie with the Bills and Saints and jumped on video calls with a handful of other teams.

The Broncos’ roster demands (inside linebacker depth is needed) and draft position (their first pick isn’t until No. 64 in the second round) could very well produce a Denver homecoming.

But no matter where he lands, Muma appears to be a lock to hear his named called next weekend and get an NFL shot, just a few years removed from being an unproven talent.

He spent his first two seasons at Wyoming backing up Logan Wilson (Bengals starter) and Cassh Maluia (Patriots draft pick in 2020). Once he became a full-time starter his junior year, Muma put himself in position to break out immediately.

“Even when he didn’t have a shot of sniffing the field as a freshman with those guys in front of him, he prepared the exact same way and was so intent with every drill he did, every note he took,” Wyoming linebackers coach Aaron Bohl said. “So when he stepped into that role, he was ready to excel. It wasn’t like there was a learning curve for him, and the same will be in the NFL. He’s ready for that.”

Muma was the Pokes’ leading tackler in 2020 before amassing 142 total tackles last season, the fourth-best single-season tally in school history. That got people’s attention.

“I really like the way he can change directions and really accelerate,” says former Tampa Bay GM Mark Dominik, who is currently an analyst for Sirius XM. “He’s a guy who can go find the football quickly and some people think he’s a third-rounder, but I really think he’s going in the second. I’m really confident in saying that. He’s a guy, because of his size, he can fit a 3-4 or 4-3 so he is an open door to every team.”

Muma, who was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at age 13, has also learned how to juggle his chronic condition with football. During games, when he’s not wearing his insulin pump and glucose monitor, he checks his blood sugar levels by pricking his finger. At halftime, he gives himself an insulin injection if he needs one.

“It’s about understanding the intensity of having diabetes, and if you’re not managing it well, it can be difficult to do the things you really want to do,” Muma said. “I want to use my position to really preach that you’re still able to do all these great things in life, and accomplish goals and aspirations that you have, but it’s about managing it well.”

With diabetes a non-concern on the field, the biggest question marks about Muma concern his relative lack of length and need to improve his use of leverage. Critics are also sure to point out that none of Muma’s 21 career starts came against a Power 5 opponent.

Count Bohl among those who think that latter criticism is balderdash.

“One thing people sort of blow by, just because he wasn’t starting at the time, was we beat Missouri in 2019 (in Laramie), the last Power 5 game we played,” Bohl said. “It was (Muma’s) first actual game playing on defense. He probably played about 30 percent of the snaps, and he had 10 tackles in the game. That just showed — he’s always been a player. He’s going to step up to whatever talent is against him, and exceed them.”

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