When Kevin O’Connell and Kwesi Adofo-Mensah agreed to become the next Minnesota VIkings head coach (HC) and General Manager (GM) respectively, they already had a bevy of offensive weapons at their disposal. These included the likes of Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen, Dalvin Cook, Kene Nwangwu, and Irv Smith Jr. (if he could get healthy after not being able to play last season).
Nick Muse Vikings Rookie Profile
Even with all of the offensive weapons, the Vikings were able to add to this group through the draft with guard Ed Ingram at No. 59 overall in the second round, running back Ty Chandler at No. 169 in the fifth round, tackle Vederian Lowe at No. 184 in the sixth round, wide receiver Jalen Nailor at No. 191 in the sixth round, and finally tight end Nick Muse at 226 in the seventh round.
I would like to take a look at what our last pick Nick Muse has to offer and how his college stats and other measurables from the draft match up with Irv Smith Jr. who is most likely the starting TE at this point of the offseason.
Nick Muse played a total of five seasons of college football but his first two seasons were at William & Mary in the FCS so we are only going to take a look at his final three seasons that he played with the South Carolina Gamecocks in 2019, 2020, and 2021. Irv Smith Jr. only played for two seasons but he played for Alabama in the SEC conference in 2017 and 2018.
Even though Muse played one more year of football, he actually has 33 fewer receiving yards than Irv Smith. Muse also only had three receiving touchdowns while Smith had 10 of them in his two seasons. Muse’s yards per catch were also lower than Smith Jr.’s with 12.0 yards and 14.4 yards respectively. As far as their college statistics go it appears that Smith is the better athlete but let’s take a look at their other measurables that were taken at the NFL Combine in their respective years.
Muse is significantly larger in that he is six-foot-five while Smith Jr. measured in at six-foot-two. At the time of their combines/pro days, Muse was also almost 20 lbs heavier. Even though Muse is taller, his arms are only ⅛ of an inch longer than Smith Jr.’s. When it comes to their hand size, Smith Jr.’s hands are actually ¼ of an inch bigger than Muse’s. Muse’s 4.71 40-yard dash time was a bit slower than Smith Jr’s 4.63 respectively.
Smith Jr’s vertical jump was 2” higher than Muse’s at 32.5” and 30.5”. Smith Jr.’s broad jump was actually 1” less than Muse’s at 110” and 111”. Smith Jr. also considerably underperformed Muse when it came to the bench press, Smith Jr. was able to get 19 which does not look like much when compared to Muse’s 27. Muse also outperformed Smith Jr. in the shuttle and three-cone drills. Muse’s time for the shuttle drill was 4.26 s to Smith Jr.’s 4.33 s. It was a much more significant difference in the three-cone drill with Muse running a 7.09 s and Smith Jr. running a 7.32 s drill.
I know that’s a lot of data and it may be overwhelming but suffice to say that the Vikings did their homework when it came to picking Nick Muse in the 7th round. I believe that he has the potential to make an impact right away with this team seeing as there is no clear No. 2 TE behind Irv Smith Jr. and Muse’s large frame would make him a good security blanket for Kirk Cousins on throwing downs.
Here are some of the strengths and weaknesses of Muse as described by CBS Sports Staff:
Great size for the position. Shows quick feet and natural athleticism. Willing blocker.
Blocking technique needs to improve. Limited production in the passing game. Route running needs to improve.
NFLdraftbuzz.com Says He:
- Has enough speed to challenge the seam but does not possess elite top-end speed.
- He is a highly competitive player and quickly gets to the perimeter, blocking well in space and at the second level.
- Good strength and effort to run through arm tackles.
- Comes off the snap quickly, low, and hard. Runs low and accelerates quickly.
- Soft, reliable hands center the big target for quarterbacks. Shields the defense and will let the ball into his pads to protect it when about to absorb a big hit over the middle.
- Inconsistent with his release off the line of scrimmage.
- Doesn’t explode off the line of scrimmage and lacks burst in his open-field moves. Drops too many catchable passes and can be overwhelmed at the point as a blocker.
- Is a bit high-hipped and slow to get rolling. Frame limits upside as a blocker.
- Will have his share of drops with inconsistent focus and too often tried running with the ball before the catch.
- Has only average size and strength and lacks an imposing frame.
While these strengths and weaknesses do appear to be accurate, we have also seen how somebody with some similar characteristics to Irv Smith Jr. can be productive at the NFL level and I believe that Nick Muse has the potential to do some of the same things. At any rate, the Vikings got a steal this late in the draft and it will be exciting to see how they can possibly use him with Smith Jr. in two TE sets which are getting to be more and more common nowadays.