PROS: Shows good speed and range. Has good closing burst on the ball. Does well in pursuit and does a nice job running downhill to make plays in space. Generally takes good angles to the ball and has a nose for it. Is a physical defender, that is a good tackler and likes to hit. Does a nice job attacking upfield, able to shoot gaps and make plays in the backfield. Shows good potential as an interior blitzer for similar reasons. Shows potential in zone coverage, with nice awareness, able to read quarterback and jump short routes. Flashes the potential and athleticism to match up with backs in man coverage in the flat.
CONS: Undersized and it shows at the point of attack. Can be run over by more powerful runners. Gets engulfed by linemen, and tends to try and run around blocks. Less effective when playing near the line of scrimmage because he doesn't get off blocks. Gets stuck in traffic. Makes him an inefficient pass rusher because he doesn't like to engage. Not as effective making plays in pursuit to opposite side of the field because he gets stuck in trash. Needs to get better depth on his zone drops and not used much in man coverage.
OVERVIEW: He plays inside linebacker in Texas 3-4 scheme, but projects best as a WILL linebacker in the 4-3 scheme at the next level. He's fast, physical, and rangy, but is too easily neutralized whne you run at him. A two-year starter that combined for 214 tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, 1 pick, and 8 passes defended in that span.Cousin, Joe King, played safety in the NFL from 1991-95. He weighed in at the Senior Bowl at 236, so he's added some needed bulk this off-season.
NFL FORECAST: Muckleroy's playing style is one you like, but he can be limited. He's going to need to have blockers kept off him because he's best when he can flow to the ball and chase. So if he plays in a 3-4, which he can, he needs to play in a scheme where he has a good nose tackle ahead of him and another inside linebacker that can take on blockers and allow him to chase. But he projects better in a 4-3 becuase he'll have more space to operate in. He fits best as a WILL in that scheme, but because of his speed and range, teams might experiment with him at the MIKE. He can play there, but he needs to have defensive tackles that will keep blockers off him. He reminds me of Will Witherspoon in that way, who had one good year at MLB in St. Louis, but for the most part was an obvious better fit at WLB throughout his career. The added bulk to his frame should help him, particularly as he tries to bring down bigger NFL backs, but I'm not sure it's going to make him more effective getting off blocks. He's got potential in coverage, but doesn't show great awareness in zone and wasn't asked to do a lot of man coverage at Texas. So he is a bit of a work in progress there. But I think he could eventually adapt and be effective there. He can be a productive starter in the right scheme, and if he's surrounded by the right talent. But he's not really going to be a playmaker, more like a guy that complements other playmakers. But at the very least, he should have a nice NFL career as a quality reserve.
ATL FORECAST: Muckleroy could fit in Atlanta, but he's not as polished as you'd want in a potential weakside starter. Mainly because of his coverage abilities. But if given a year to develop behind Peterson, he could improve to a degree where he is capable in coverage by 2011, with the potential to actually become good in the years ahead. He's a fast, rangy playmaker that could work in Atlanta's attacking style beside Lofton, but I think he would be somewhat a liability at the point of attack still. And while he could be a productive starter that could easily tally 80-90 tackles in Atlanta, I'm not sure he's a good enough starter/playmaker that within two or three years of him becoming the starter, the team wouldn't try to make a change. So he is really more of a stopgap at OLB rather than a problem solver.
VALUE: He is worth a mid-to-late third rounder for a team looking for a fast, rangy linebacker with starting potential.
1-poor, 2-weak, 3-above average, 4-very good, 5-elite
POINT OF ATTACK: 2.0
PASS RUSH: 2.0
"Vincere scis, Hannibal, victoria uti nescis" -- Maharbal, 216 B.C.E.