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Broncos roster review: Rookie linebacker Kana’i Mauga

The undrafted linebacker out of USC looks like a potential practice squad addition.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 25 Oregon State at USC Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

After the conclusion of the 2022 NFL Draft, the Denver Broncos started to sign multiple undrafted free agents to add to their roster. One of the players the Broncos targeted and ended up signing was former USC linebacker, Kana’i Mauga

He’s a 6’2”, 245-pound linebacker out of USC who was a consistent contributor for their defense. During his four-year career at USC, Mauga totaled 205 tackles, 16.5 tackles for a loss, 5 sacks, 3 interceptions, 6 pass deflections, and 2 forced fumbles. This past season, he totaled 91 tackles, 5.5 tackles for a loss, 1 sack, 1 interception, 2 pass deflections, and 1 forced fumble.

The Denver Broncos have added to their inside linebacker position a good bit this offseason. They re-signed Josey Jewell whom General Manager George Paton called the “glue to the defense”. Also, they signed former Eagles leading tackler Alex Singleton to the roster as well. They joined Jonas Griffth who the Broncos acquired from the 49ers prior to the start of the season last year as well. He played well in limited action last season and he likely will be competing for a starting job this upcoming year as well. Mauga will join fellow UDFA rookie Kadofi Wright and Barrington Wade who are fighting for a roster spot or a spot on the practice squad this summer.

Player Profile

Kana’i Mauga | Linebacker | Rookie
Height: 6’2” | Weight: 245 pounds | 40-time: 4.65 seconds
Arm Length: 32 1/8 inches | Hands: 9 3/4”
3-Cone Drill: 7.27 seconds | Short Shuttle: 4.40 seconds | Vertical Jump: 32 inches
Broad Jump: 9’7” | Bench Press: 21 reps |

Highlights

How does rookie linebacker Kana’i Mauga fit on the Broncos?

Mauga seems destined for a potential practice squad spot. With Josey Jewell, Alex Singleton, and Jonas Griffth ahead of him on the depth chart, there isn’t much room for Mauga. We also have Baron Browning who is moving to edge rusher this offseason but can play inside as well, so it will be tough for someone to crack the roster behind these four players.

Where Mauga can earn a roster spot is with his special team's play. If he can show up consistently here and make a big hit or two during the preseason, he might be able to earn himself a roster spot. It will still be a long shot for the undrafted rookie.

As for his game, he’s mostly a downhill/high-effort-run defending linebacker who has inconsistent tackling skills. He doesn’t have the athleticism or traits to really be a factor in the passing game and doesn’t offer much as a pass rusher. So, his skill-set alone limits him to probably being a two-down player in the NFL

So, the most realistic landing spot for him looks to be the practice squad. He could earn a final spot or two as a special teams ace, but that would be tough to do as a rookie initially.

Kana’i Mauga’s RAS score

Note: It was reported that he signed with the Falcons initially, but that ended up being false.

Final Thoughts

Mauga is an intriguing undrafted rookie who really only has a shot to crack the 53-man roster because of his special team's play. Josey Jewell, Alex Singleton, Jonas Griffth, and Baron Browning(potentially) will be the off-the-ball linebackers for the Broncos this upcoming season. There really isn’t room here for someone else, unless they flash on special teams

As I said earlier, he’s most likely to earn one of the Broncos' 16 practice squad spots this upcoming season. If injuries occur to the linebacker position, he could earn a roster spot that way.

It will be interesting to see how he does during Training Camp and the Preseason though. He has explosive traits to his game that could make him a standout player on the third-team defense.