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Jaguars brass talk LB Chad Muma, ‘We always look at value’

The Jaguars selected linebacker Chad Muma in the third round of the 2022 NFL Draft.

Wyoming v UNLV Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Despite already having addressed the linebacker position on the first day of the 2022 NFL Draft, the Jacksonville Jaguars opted to double-dip in the position group during the second day, utilizing their second of two third-round selections to draft athletic Wyoming linebacker Chad Muma.

The value of getting a guy that wasn’t necessarily expected to be there in the first place was too great, general manager Trent Baalke noted shortly following Round 3. But, it wasn’t just a luxury pick, either, Muma will play a big role in how Jacksonville builds its program moving forward.

“He was highly rated on our board for one,” Baalke noted when asked about taking a linebacker on back-to-back days. “He fits the culture we’re trying to build. I don’t think we can ever have enough good linebackers. He’s a green dot guy. He can run the defense. He’s a really good special teams player as well. There’s just a lot to like.”

Muma, 6-foot-3, 239 pounds, finished his collegiate career at Wyoming as a two-time First team All-Mountain West player (2020, 2021) and a Third team AP All-American this most recent season.

In four years, Muma accounted for 145 solo tackles, 19 tackles for loss 5.5 sacks and three interceptions. In 2021, he accounted for 142 total tackles, eight tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, three pass breakups and three interceptions. He added two touchdowns on the year.

Muma’s role at Wyoming increased during his senior season, starting all 13 games after making just eight start in the three years prior.

“A very good value at that point in the draft, a guy that we had high on our board that plays the game that we want to play, plays it physical. He can play on all four downs.”

The theme of the pick held true to what Baalke, head coach Doug Pederson and the rest of the coaching staff wanted. Muma offers versatility at the position while being a physical player, along with a strong character that the Jaguars covet. The archetype of the players Jacksonville has targetted thus far sticks out like a sore thumb.

Still, there was a question of whether or not there’s value in selecting a player who may not become a Day 1 starter with other needs elsewhere on the roster. For Baalke, the thought process is simple - you’re one player away from something going wrong, and there’s still room for everyone to play.

“Again, when you say we’re overloaded at linebacker, you’re only one play away from being down a linebacker. As we’ve seen through the years that’s a position where, knock on wood, you sometimes lose some guys,” he said. “Very confident he’s going to come in and be a big part of this program.”

The value of picking Muma and upgrading the room, making it that much stronger was ultimately more important to the team than making another room a bit more average.

“We always look at value. You’re not going to take a player that you had rated three rounds later because you feel like you have a need there,” Baalke noted. “Iron sharpens iron, so there is nothing wrong with getting really good in one room. It’s a lot better than getting average in other rooms and that’s how we look at building the 53.”

Right away, Muma will compete within the room, but also gives the team value as a special teams player, something both Baalke and Pederson keyed in on when speaking about Muma.

But not just that, his character is what ultimately stood out to the Jaguars head coach during the 30-visit with Muma prior to the draft.

“A couple of things that jump out to you – his ability to run, his physicality also. I had a chance to really kind of visit with this guy and start building a relationship with him – just his character, who he is as a person, how he’s going to fit into the room,” Pederson said when asked what type of player he said in Muma.

“Talking to him again tonight, how excited he is, this is a guy that’s going to bring great competition in that room, going to give us depth, going to be a good special teams player for us. I’m looking forward to getting these guys out here.”