The Las Vegas Raiders decided to keep the pipeline from Clemson football hot as they drafted two more former Tigers in the 2020 NFL Draft. The team waited until the third round to select their first Clemson alumni and they chose linebacker Tanner Muse. He played safety in college, but the Raiders plan on using him as a linebacker. However, he plans to make his biggest impact on special teams.
“I see myself being a full core special teamer, just a special teams war daddy,” Muse said after getting drafted. “Getting to linebacker and sub packages, just being able to do everything I can, but mainly linebacker and special teamer.”
Saying things like “special teams war daddy” will quickly make Muse a fan favorite in Las Vegas. It appears to be a bit of a reach to take a specialist that early in the draft, but the Raiders clearly like him. Targeting Clemson talent worked out well for the team last season.
Muse Won Raiders Over in Meeting
Muse wasn’t a hot name coming into the draft as he played safety in college, but will play linebacker in the NFL. Luckily for him, he blew the Raiders away in a pre-draft meeting.
“Tanner Muse knocked his Zoom meeting out of the park,” general manager Mike Mayock said after the draft on Friday. “Muse played safety and we questioned him for an hour on linebacker fits and he knew every one. … We think he’s one of the smartest and most intuitive players in the draft and we expect him to learn both positions in addition to playing special teams.
“I said, ‘You know I watched you stick your foot in the ground against Texas A&M early in the season and chase down a screen from 30 yards behind’. I said, ‘At that point at least you played like a Raider’. He started laughing and loved the fact that we remembered that play.”
The team spent a lot of money on addressing their need at linebacker in free agency, so they won’t need to use Muse too much on defense. Even if his role on defense is minimal, he should make an impact on special teams.
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Mayock Praises Muse’s Intelligence
Lost in the commotion of Muse switching positions and planning to play special teams is the fact that he’s incredibly athletic. He ran a 4.41 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine. If he can keep that speed after gaining some size, he’d have elite speed for a linebacker.
In addition to his speed, the Raiders are excited about his football IQ.
“We think he’s one of the smartest and most intuitive players in the draft and we expect him to learn both positions in addition to playing special teams,” Mayock said about Muse.
The Raiders made it clear with their free agent signings that they want linebackers who can succeed in coverage. While most of the chatter surrounding Muse is about how he’ll make an impact on special teams, he could be an effective linebacker after a few more years of development.