Tanner Muse 2020 Raiders Draft Pick Series

2020 Raiders Draft Pick Series: Tanner Muse

  • #2020NFLDraft
  • Clemson Tigers
  • Cory Littleton
  • Jon Gruden
  • Linebacker
  • Marquel Lee
  • Mike Mayock
  • National Champion
  • NFl Draft
  • Nicholas Morrow
  • Nick Kwiatkoski
  • Tanner Muse
By theoeleven June 2, 2020 0 Comment
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The NFL’s Tiger King Jon Gruden added to his collection after drafting Tanner Muse

With the third of their three third round picks, the Las Vegas Raiders selected Clemson’s Tanner Muse 100th overall. This selection originally belonged to New England. The Raiders acquired this pick in exchange for the 91st (acquired from Houston in exchange for Gareon Conley), 139th and 172nd picks. The Raiders also sent pick #159 to New England.

Muse is a two-time National Champion who played in 59 career games at Clemson, which is tied for the most in school history. As a senior, he was elected team captain and led the Tigers with four interceptions. He also earned 1st-Team All-ACC honors and was a 3rd-Team AP All-American.

Tanner Muse Draft Profile

Despite being a 1st-Team All-ACC selection, Muse was often overlooked among the talented Clemson defense. He projects as a linebacker in the NFL, though he played safety in college.

Let’s examine what he brings to the Raiders defense.

Strengths

Muse is a solid athlete, with excellent vision to find and pursue the football, without falling victim to “eye-candy” or misdirection in the backfield.

He uses his eyes well in zone coverage to diagnose route concepts, read the quarterback and take away passing lanes from hook/curl zones. Muse also shows enough long speed to carry routes outside the numbers and up the seam versus average athletes at the tight end or running back position.

At the catch point he shows good ball skills and consistently makes plays – 14 career PBUs and seven interceptions.

He is an excellent run support player from the safety position which will help his transition to linebacker. He shows mental processing and physicality to quickly press and leverage gaps between the tackles and is willing to take on bigger lineman at the POA.

Plays with a good throttle to scrape and tackle in the A/B gaps or string runs outside without over-pursuing. He is a confident tackler in the hole.

Weaknesses

His days of playing safety are over as he simply does not enough foot speed, acceleration and range to be reliable on the back end.

Most of his issues stem from playing way too high. He stands straight up in pursuit which hinders his agility and change of direction. As a result, he is a suspect open-field tackler as evidenced during the 2020 National Championship Game.

This coupled with his clunky coverage technique will create issues in man-to-man coverage versus NFL tight ends and running backs, especially in the AFC West.

Despite being 6’2″ he only has 31.5″ arms, putting him in the 12th percentile of NFL outside linebackers. The former Clemson Tigers’ lack of length prevents him from effectively disengaging with blockers at the POA.

Furthermore, he is a limited as a pass rusher/blitzer due to marginal length and pass rush technique. Without scheming him a free rush at the quarterback as a blitzer, he will not defeat blockers one-on-one.

What Tanner Muse brings to the Raiders defense

Like the rest of his Clemson alumni, he is a winner. He played in the College Football Playoff all four years, made three title game appearances and won two national championships. Clemson won 55 of their 59 games over his four seasons.

Why does this matter? Since Gruden and Mayock teamed up, they’ve made a clear attempt to cultivate a winning culture in their locker room. Culture is built through the draft, because those players are typically the cornerstones of which a team is built around. Thus, Muse’s biggest value, at least early on, will be his competitive toughness and confidence that comes from the success he experienced in college. These traits are contagious and should spread throughout the Raiders locker room.

On the field, Muse will bring depth to the linebacker corps and be a four phase contributor on special teams.

His zone coverage ability will translate well to Paul Guenther’s zone-heavy defensive scheme. Additionally, he shows functionality against the run which will allow him to contribute on all three downs.

Final thoughts on Tanner Muse

This pick was a huge reach. It feels like Gruden and Mayock simply went back to the Clemson well because of the unusual off-season we’ve had. Perhaps they didn’t know enough about other linebacker prospects, and felt they could trust the Clemson pedigree to deliver a decent prospect.

Linebacker was a need for the Raiders in this draft, no doubt about it. However Akeem Davis-Gaither, Shaq Quarterman, Mykal Walker, Troy Dye and perhaps even Davion Taylor are each better overall prospects. Additionally they are all equally, if not better, fits for the Raiders defensive scheme.

Don’t expect Muse to challenge for the third linebacker spot as a rookie. Nicholas Morrow and Marquel Lee are more developed and already know the system.

That said Muse will certainly be on the active roster and will be the Raiders’ 5th linebacker, behind Cory Littleton and/or Nick Kwiatkoski on the depth chart.

He’s a coach-able player with a great pedigree, attitude and good enough size to develop into an NFL linebacker. If Paul Guenther and veteran linebackers coach David Lippincott can get him to play with better pad level, many of his issues will be solved.

Subsequently, by 2021 he may be the Raiders’ third linebacker especially if Lee and/or Morrow under-perform this season. Both of those players are on one-year contracts.

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