Can Muir Fill Hole In The Middle?

Daniel Muir signed with the Colts a mere 11 days ago and was inactive in Week 1. With Ed Johnson's release, Muir is now thrust into the spotlight. Will he step up or wilt under the pressure? Brad Keller has the scouting report and analysis.

Daniel Muir is a Kent State product and was a four year starter for the Golden Flashes, appearing in 46 games and posting very impressive numbers for a defensive tackle — 198 total tackles, 35 tackles for loss, 14.5 sacks, three fumble recoveries, two forced fumbles, and one interception. The sacks number is actually good for third-best in school history, while the tackles for loss rank seventh all-time.

Muir was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Packers following the 2007 NFL Draft, had a stellar trifecta of minicamps, training camp, and preseason, and made his way onto the regular roster for the 2007 season.

Muir at Packers' camp in 2007
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

He played sparingly along the defensive line and only occasionally on special teams — he's a little too big at 6-feet-2 and 312 pounds and not quite sudden or fast enough to be a big factor in the kicking game, but has plenty of tenacity — he spent a good number of Sundays on the inactive list, and finished with only four tackles in three games last season. 

He lasted through the offseason, training camp, and preseason on Green Bay's roster, but was eventually released when they narrowed the field to 53.  The Colts claimed him on waivers on Aug. 31 and he was declared inactive in Week 1.

Since he has the size, motor, and mentality to play the under tackle position in Tony Dungy's defense, the idea was obviously to bring him in, let him learn the defense, become a valuable part of the tackle rotation, and act as an insurance policy should anything happen to Ed Johnson.

Well, something has obviously happened to Johnson and the option on that contingency plan has just been exercised early.

And, even though the Colts are surely acting from a very morally centered state and would release Johnson whatever the depth chart looked like, the fact that they acted so quickly leads one to believe that Muir is further along than some might think.

Eliminating Johnson and having Muir step into his spot makes a lot of sense since, basically, Muir is Johnson — an undrafted under tackle with a try-hard spirit and an excellent motor that uses his hands well enough is about 6-feet-2 and weighs about 300 pounds ... minus character issues and minus a little speed and general athleticism.

The issue is that, with Johnson off the roster, that leaves the Colts that much thinner at defensive tackle and forces them to realign the defensive line rotation.

Raheem Brock will likely need to move back to defensive tackle and Keyunta Dawson will see a lot more snaps there as well, particularly on passing downs.

The Colts had been able to insulate Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis while they worked themselves back into game shape by shifting Brock to the end position, but he will be lining up at tackle more frequently now and will not be able to give the two starters a breather.  In addition, this means that Eric Foster will need to develop sooner rather than later, since he is the backup contingency plan for Muir.

All of this is also assuming that Muir is of equivalent skill to Johnson.  One of the primary reasons that Johnson was undrafted in 2007 relates directly to run-ins with the authorities and suspensions levied on him when he was at Penn State.

He was always considered to be a physically talented player and probably would have had a fourth- or fifth-round grade on him had it not been for the red flags. 

For the 2007 draft, compiled a database of every draftable — and many undrafted — player in the talent pool.  Muir was not listed as one of the 81 best players at his position heading into last year's draft.

That means that, according to veteran scout Tom Marino, Muir was at least the 82nd best defensive tackle for that draft class, and probably worse than that.  The Packers also cut him loose, probably hoping to sign him to the practice squad, but they are not necessarily a team that is flush with talent at the defensive tackle position. And it is a general position of need for teams around the league.

The coaching staff will be able to tell fairly quickly — and probably have already evaluated Muir — whether or not he is ready.  If he is not, the possibility also exists to welcome Anthony McFarland back to the team.

Earlier in the year, he was unable to pass a physical with a clean bill of health and teams stayed away from him.  With several months to heal, he may be ready to return to action.

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