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Draft Impact: Netane Muti

Denver Broncos choose the Fresno State mauler in the 6th round

NFL: Combine Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

With the 181st pick of the 2020 NFL Draft, the Denver Broncos selected Fresno State offensive guard Netane Muti. Let’s take a quick look and see what the Broncos are getting, and if there’s long-term potential for Muti in the NFL.

Netane Muti came to Fresno State from Hawaii as part of the 2016 recruiting class, which would be the last of Tim DeRuyter’s classes. After initially signing with Hawaii, Muti landed with the Bulldogs after his application was denied by the school at Manoa. During his first Spring Practice, he suffered an Achilles injury that led to a redshirt year in probably the worst Bulldog season since WW2. It was during this season though that the Legend of Netane Muti began to grow around Fresno. He was known as a freak in the weight room, and in the dining hall. He was confirmed to have finished off a 10x10 burger at In n Out Burger, (that’s 10patties and 10 slices of cheese for those of you outside of the In n Out footprint), and began setting records in the weight room as a freshman. To say that expectations were high for him in 2017 would be an understatement, especially under the new coaching staff.

It would not take long for Muti to make his name known, as in the second game of his career, he was seen absolutely pushing around Alabama’s defensive line, many of whom would be drafted over the next two seasons. As the season went on, the Fresno State offensive line became one of the strongest and most productive in the country, ending the year 3rd in sacks and TFLs allowed. The only two schools ahead of them that year were Army and Navy, both triple option schools. Luckily, tons of strong film emerged in that season of Muti pushing players all over the field from his guard spot. It would also go as Muti’s one injury free year at Fresno State, which really was disappointing to fans that wanted to see him compete at his best.

The 2018 season started out well, with Muti dominating again on the line. Unfortunately, he would go down with injury again against Minnesota, this time with another Achilles injury, this time to the other foot. Just as his stock was taking off, his season was over. Even though it would go on to be an historic Fresno State season, he had to watch from the sideline as he rehabbed and spent time in the weight room. Reports from players and coaches though showed that he was seen by the team as a leader though on and off the field. Even though he couldn’t physically play, he was mentoring his replacements, and helping as a student assistant with practices.

We’d all like to see that Muti bounced back in 2019 and played the full season, but it was again beset by injury. In the 3rd game of 2019 against Sacramento State, Muti went down and had to be helped off the field. Everyone held their breath, hoping for the best, but it was not to be. He suffered a Lis Franc injury in his left foot, which would be the last time he suited up in a Fresno State uniform. Before the season, he was receiving buzz as a potential 1st or 2nd round selection, but that 3rd injury caused a lot of questions about his durability in the future. It doesn’t take much for a player to get the label of injury-prone, and he was picking up that label. His draft measurables were still off the chart, and his 2017 film showed NFL potential, but the questions of injury were tough to escape.

After the 2019 season, Muti decided to forgo his final year of eligibility, and declared for the NFL draft in January of 2020. He was invited to the NFL combine, where he most certainly did not disappoint. He wowed the media and combine crowd with 44 reps of the bench press, which would rank him 3rd all time at the test. He did well in his interviews, but was dinged for slow footwork during drills and gameplay. After the combine, he was still ranked as one of the highest rated offensive line players, but the injuries pushed him down many draft boards. It would take until the 6th round for a team to finally take a chance on Muti, with the Broncos making him the 181st selection of the draft. To hear Muti tell it though, he was just as excited being a 6th round choice as if he was a 1st round choice. He received praise from the Denver front office and NFL draft pundits, and was seen as a contributor as long as he could stay healthy.

Looking at his NFL potential, Muti has a long wingspan, and has been great in run protection at Fresno State. He has struggled in pass protection on occasions, and been dinged for his footwork. But after three season ending foot injuries, it is expected that his feet would need work. He plays with an absolute mean streak though, and shows no fear playing against the best of the best. He brought the same intensity to playing Incarnate Word as he did playing Alabama and Washington. There is even talk in Denver of Muti getting a chance at Day 1 starting, but that of course remains to be seen. Either way, he certainly has the potential to be a contributor in the NFL as long as he can stay healthy. Having access to NFL trainers and doctors should help him, along with NFL coaches to refine and perfect his technique. I think he’ll be a back-up player in his first year, with the potential to move into a starting role in year 2 or 3.

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