Israel Mukuamu goes mostly unmentioned these days in talk about the Cowboys' 2022 roster. But with his size and versatility, the second-year prospect shouldn't be slept on as a potential contributor for Dallas next season.
A 6th-round pick in last year's draft, Mukuamu spent most of his rookie season as a gameday inactive behind more experienced veterans. Israel only dressed for four games in 2021 thanks to having Jayron Kearse, Malik Hooker, Damontae Kazee, and Donovan Wilson all ahead of him on the depth chart.
The Cowboys thought enough of Mukuamu to carry him on the roster despite the lack of usage, protecting his rights to avoid a practice squad poaching. Their decision speaks to perceived potential in the 22-year-old and why he could be a factor in his second season.
Billed at 6'4″ and with collegiate experience both at cornerback and safety, Israel brings intriguing qualities to the safety competition. He displayed that versatility during the 2021 preseason as Dallas deployed him all over the field; multiple snaps in both safety role and even playing slot cornerback.
In case you've forgotten, Mukuamu was actually one of the Cowboys' standout defensive backs last August. He registered the only interception of the preseason, tied for the team lead in pass deflections, and was third in tackles.
There's still plenty of raw to work out of Israel's game. Guys with his size don't fall to Day 3 without reason and Mukuamu needed a lot of technical improvement to avoid coverage breakdowns and penalties in the NFL.
If he has elevated his game then Mukuamu should be very competitive for a roster spot in 2022. Damontae Kazee is gone and Donovan Wilson, now 27 years old, needs to be exceptional this summer to motivate Dallas to keep him around.
A new challenger in the safety mix is rookie Markquese Bell. He's building a following early in his Cowboys career as one of the most-hyped UDFAs and with some play-making during the recent practices.
But with Bell seen as more of a hybrid strong safety and linebacker prospect, Mukuamu's ability to play free safety and corner gives him a different niche. One could see both youngsters making the roster and either pushing Wilson out or forcing Dalas to again keep five safeties.
Time will tell if Israel Mukuamu has improved enough to stick around. But if he's refined his skills from last August, the second-year prospect could become a real factor for the 2022 defense.