by Ryan Myers
Photo courtesy of Wake Forest Athletics.
At Draft 412, the NFL draft talk never ends. We will keep you ready for the next set of gridiron stars—from today and all the way until draft night 2024. We will bring you mock drafts, player profiles, individual team needs, and everything else you may need related to the 2024 NFL Draft.
Today’s Spotlight - Wake Forest, Safety, Malik Mustapha
Name - Malik Mustapha
Pos - S
Team - Wake Forest
HT/WT - 5’11” 207 lbs.
Home - Charlotte, NC
Malik Mustapha played his high school football at Weddington High School where he led his team to a perfect 16-0 record and a state title in 2019. As a senior, he tallied 68 tackles, including 12 tackles for loss. He also had 5 interceptions and 16 pass breakups. Out of high school, Mustapha was 5’10” and 182 pounds and was not highly recruited. He was given a 2-star rating from Rivals.com and chose to start his college football career at Richmond, passing up offers from Army, Chattanooga, Elon, and more.
In his freshman season with Richmond, Mustapha appeared in 4 games and made 17 tackles (13 unassisted). He redshirted and chose to enter the transfer portal following this season.
Mustapha transferred to Wake Forest from Richmond before the 2021 season. He played in all 13 games for the Demon Deacons but had a modest number of snaps off the bench. With his limited action, he made 37 tackles, including 2 TFL. He also had 2 interceptions along with 4 passes defended, forcing one fumble and gathering two recoveries as well. This performance in his first season with Wake gave him a starting role in the 2022 season.
In this starting role last year, Mustapha started all 10 games that he played in recording 58 tackles, 8 TFL, and 3.5 sacks. He was one of the Deacons’ top tacklers and performed well as a large piece of their secondary. So far this season, Mustapha has started in all 9 games for Wake and is on pace to crush his tackling totals from last season. So far, he is at 55 total tackles including 4 TFL and 0.5 sacks. He also has an interception and 3 passes defended. He has cemented himself as one of the best safeties in the ACC and is grabbing some attention in the NFL world as well.
Mustapha added 25 pounds of muscle and has also gained an inch in height since arriving at Wake Forest. He has become one of the strongest DBs in college and uses that strength very well when tackling. He is a reliable tackler and wraps ball carriers well. He is punishing as a hitter and loves playing downhill to make a tackle, using his tremendous instincts to make good reads, especially while defending the run. He looks to punish running backs when he has the opportunity, rarely allowing extra yards after contact.
Mustapha shows good burst and is quick to accelerate, but his long speed seems to be average at best. This does not help him in man coverage while defending deep balls or speedy receivers as he tends to fall a bit behind. However, his zone coverage is much better, and with his style of play, he is not asked to cover in one-on-one situations very often.
A possible player comparison for Malik Mustapha is LSU product and current Seahawk, Jamal Adams. Both of them are at their best when playing downhill against the run and covering the pass in zones. They are not shy as hitters and love playing an extremely physical game. They are not necessarily ball hawks, but they have the ability to knock the ball down in zone schemes. They have similar builds, but Adams has a bit more length than Mustapha which gives him slightly more coverage ability.
Malik Mustapha is a run stopping safety that would be a valuable add for any NFL defense. He may not be an immediate impact player but has shown his ability to grow and make strides wherever he is asked to do so.
Draft 412 Draft Prediction - 7th round or UDFA