NFL Analysis


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Malik Mustapha NFL Draft 2024: Combine Results, Scouting Report For San francisco 49ers Safety

Wake Forest safety Malik Mustapha makes a tackle
Wake Forest Demon Deacons defensive back Malik Mustapha (3) tries to hold onto North Carolina State Wolfpack running back Delbert Mimms III (34) for a tackle during a game at Allegacy Federal Credit Union Stadium on Nov. 11, 2023. (Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports)

The 2024 NFL Draft is here, making it an excellent time to highlight some of the class' best players with scouting reports. Each report will include strengths, weaknesses and background information. 

Here's our report on Malik Mustapha.

Malik Mustapha'S 2024 NFL COMBINE RESULTS

  • Height: 5-foot-10 1/8
  • Weight: 209 pounds
  • 40-Time: 4.54 seconds
  • 10-Yard Split: 1.58 seconds
  • Vertical: 41.5"
  • Broad Jump: 10-foot-6
  • 3-Cone: Did Not Participate (DNP
  • Shuttle: DNP
  • Arm length: 30 1/8"



  • Has a rocked-up, muscular and compact frame with a strong lower half
  • Deployed in multiple alignments in Wake Forest's defense
  • Showed a smooth, comfortable pedal as back-end safety with more than functional transition and change-of-direction skills
  • Showed some efficiency and economy of movement as a post safety; not sudden or explosive but also not tight 
  • Squared up with good balance, posture and body control as a tackler — brought the wood with stopping power
  • Played downhill with aggressiveness and range vs. the run, and was both an alley runner and a gap shooter with conviction
  • Brought some force as a tackler due to his explosive downhill burst, outstanding closing speed and power on contact 
  • Has an outstanding playing personality; he plays an urgent, determined and unyielding brand of football at a high tempo


  • His overall length is not ideal for a safety, and it can limit his range and effectiveness on the back end. 
  • His compact frame at times resulted in some core tightness when transitioning and opening his hips as a post safety. 
  • He does not possess the stride length and resulting play speed that post-safety range demands 
  • Lacks the overall length to match up man-to-man on quality NFL tight ends, and his man coverage is a major limitation

Wake Forest safety Malik Mustapha breaks up a pass
Wake Forest Demon Deacons safety Malik Mustapha (3) breaks up a pass intended for Notre Dame Fighting Irish wide receiver Jordan Faison (80) during a game at Notre Dame Stadium on Nov. 18, 2023. (Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports)


Mustapha will be an interesting projection to the next level given how the NFL game is evolving from an explosive-play and passing-game standpoint and how his traits profile matches (or does not match) that evolution.

Mustapha is a smaller, solidly built and compact safety whose game is built on tenacity, competitiveness and physicality. His traits are maximized playing in the box or driving downhill from the back end. Then his play strength, tackling ability and tone-setting aggressiveness are magnified.

What consistently stood out was Mustapha was a little more fluid with his pedal and transition and direction changes on the back end, including at post safety, than you might expect given his stout frame and condensed build. However, he showed some ease of movement when opening his hips. While you would not project him as a deep safety as a foundational transition to the NFL, it gives Mustapha single-high and 2-high versatility.

The more you watch Mustapha the more you get excited about how he attacks downhill as a run defender, making a strong case as the best-run defense safety in the draft class. However, the concerns for some teams will be his size, build and lack of length and how that will impact his ability to play in the passing game. Mustapha is not a true post safety, although he can play snaps there at times.

There will be questions about matching up man-to-man on a tight end given his 5-foot-10 height. Is there a Budda Baker comparison to be made when Baker came out of Washington as a second-round pick in 2017? Has the NFL game changed in those sevens years to where Baker would not be seen as a second-round pick? 


Mustapha played three seasons at Wake Forest after spending his first two college seasons at Richmond. He started his final two seasons. Mustapha was an unranked recruit coming out of high school in North Carolina.  

Mustapha in 2023 aligned in multiple positions in the Wake Forest defense with his highest percentage of snaps in the box, but there were significant snaps in the slot and the back end, including post safety. There were man-coverage snaps in which Mustapha matched up to the tight end even when the TE was detached from the formation. In Cover 2, Mustapha played both half-field safety and middle hole defender.

Mustapha was deployed as a blitzer predominantly on third down, rushing from inside and off the edge. He also was deployed as a spy vs. mobile quarterbacks. There were also some third-down snaps in which he aligned on the ball on the edge.