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Is Netane Muti ready to start for the Broncos?

Will the 2020 sixth round pick hold up if Graham Glasgow can’t play?

Los Angeles Rams v Denver Broncos Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

Graham Glasgow felt something amiss in the first quarter of the Broncos season opener against the Giants, but only missed three snaps. Once the 27-13 victory was secured, the veteran guard left MetLife stadium in an ambulance due to an irregular heartbeat. Ever since, he’s looked like a longshot for week two. The Broncos officially listed him as doubtful following Friday’s practice.

If Glasgow is unable to suit up against the Jaguars, the Broncos will start second year guard Netane Muti in his stead. During his rookie season, the sixth round pick played 144 total snaps and made two starts at right guard.

Strengths

At 6’2 and 315 lbs., Muti is a bowling ball of a man. He’s a good athlete with the quickness and agility to shine on the second level teeing off against smaller defenders. He displays good foot speed and the kind of anchor necessary to hold up in pass protection against power. He’s also got the kind of competitive toughness you want to see from your interior lineman with his hot motor and an appetite for violence.

Muti displays good play strength to create vertical displacement in the phone booth and hold up against a bull rusher like the Carolina Panther’s Derrick Brown. When he lands a punch on a defender, he displays very good grip strength to lock down and control them, and his wrestling background suggests he should only improve at this with live reps.

During the preseason Muti’s play strength, athleticism, and nastiness made him a valuable contributor to the rushing attack, especially on zone concepts.

Weaknesses

Muti has two issues at the root of his weaknesses. He has 31 and 3/4” arms, which is short for a guard, and he’s very inexperienced. He started playing football as a sophomore in high school and eventually played one full season during his collegiate career because of injuries. Outside that special 2017 season, he played in five games at Fresno State.

In both of Muti’s 2020 games and across the preseason, he’s displayed issues with longer defensive linemen in pass protection. Most in Broncos Country will remember Seahawk Rasheem Green beat him for a 3rd and 17 sack on Drew Lock in the preseason, but may have overlooked similar problems against the Raiders in 2020. Short arms leave Muti susceptible to oversets against misdirection and stunts. It also hurts his ability to stick on moving targets in space.

Is Muti a drop off from Glasgow?

In the early going he probably leaves the Broncos more susceptible to blown blocks, stunts, blitzes, and missed assignments. This isn’t to say he’s a bad player, as I do believe he’s headed for a starting job sooner rather than later, but the tape suggests there will be growing pains. If Glasgow’s heart leads to a longer stint in the starting role, the hope here is that playing time helps Muti smooth out the rough edges of his game.

Muti at right guard could lead to some more highlight reel blocks in the ground game. The veteran isn’t a sexy run blocker and tends to win with positioning and good hands, the youngster with pure brute strength. I believe this is one reason there was a notable part of Broncos Country calling for Muti to start over Glasgow or Dalton Risner following the preseason win over the Minnesota Vikings’ backups.

At the end of the day, Glasgow plays the kind of game that’s easy to take for granted until it’s no longer around. He’s a scrappy run blocker who knows how to win ugly with a good anchor and quick hands to slow down the best defenders in the league in pass pro. I’m optimistic Muti is up to the challenge Jacksonville can offer, but if Glasgow’s heart leads him to missing games against teams like the New York Jets, Pittsburgh Steelers, or Washington Football Team, Denver will miss him dearly.