Without a doubt the guy I researched the least that ended up being a draft pick for the Saints is Al-Quadin Muhammad. I feel confident in saying this applies to any Saints fan that doesn’t follow the Hurricanes. Thankfully that’s where Cam Underwood, Managing Editor of SBNation’s Miami Hurricanes site State of the U, comes in. Please be sure to check them out on Twitter as well, they always have great stuff. Here’s my Q&A with him on Muhammad below:
Andrew Juge, Saints Nation: Saints fans are fairly irate at this pick I’d say. 6th rounders are always a crapshoot and pass rush is a sore need but the joke being thrown around is “is it too much to ask that the guy we pick actually play football in 2016?”. So that’s the big question first – why was this guy thrown off the team and do you have any faith in him keeping his head on straight in the NFL?
Cam Underwood, State of the U: Wow. Ok then. I guess we’re jumping right into the thick of things. Well, let’s go.Al-Quadin Muhammad and LB Jermaine Grace were investigated for getting rental cars from a Miami rental facility for low or no money. This investigation is what led to both Muhammad and Grace being kicked off the team just days prior to the 2016 season opener. In a statement at the time said that Muhammad and Grace were dismissed for NCAA rules violations.Now, this isn’t the first time Muhammad had to be disciplined in his time at Miami. He was suspended for the 2014 season after getting in an altercation with his roommate, which ended with Muhammad punching the other individual in the face. Muhammad was also suspended for the 2015 season opener for a “violation of team rules”.As one Hurricanes fan friend on Twitter once said, Muhammad lives “like a Qatari prince”, with designer clothes, expensive cars (which were reportedly paid for by his cousin, but…..who knows), jewelry, and frequent outings to the numerous premium locations in Miami and on South Beach.NOW, with all that being said, I think that Muhammad will be fine in the NFL. The dismissal of Muhammad and Grace was widely panned by Miami fans as a proactive move (Miami just ended probation for the 2011 Nevin Shapiro scandal in October 2016), and not really a direct punishment for the infractions that the players may or may not have done. On top of that, there aren’t rules prohibiting getting and spending money in the NFL.Muhammad’s lifestyle is flashy, but not problematic anywhere other than in college, when players are expected to be broke, and any show of money brings questions and investigations. I know New Orleans is a great city, but Miami is another level. Muhammad likes to go out, wear nice clothes, drive nice cars, and have flashy jewelry. Those are all things he can do in New Orleans while playing in the NFL and stay “clean” in terms of behavior. Yes, he had the fight with the roommate a few years ago, and a rules violation which was likely minor, but that is the fight is the only really bad thing that he’s done. And, according to some, what he did was warranted and the punishment was an overreaction.Sorry to make a short story long, but I wanted to cover as much of AQM’s background as I could.To the original question: do I think Muhammad can stay along the straight and narrow path in the NFL?Yes. Absolutely.
This is also true. Miami’s defense under then-Defensive Coordinator Mark D’Onofrio was TERRIBLE and did little to nothing to highlight the talents of the players on the roster. Muhammad had 7.0 sacks and 10.5 tackles for loss in 17 career games over 2 season in Miami. So, he did something, but he wasn’t as dominant as he could have been. But, let’s put that at 50% Muhammad and 50% D’Onofrio’s passive and poorly run defense.Muhammad has ability, though. He would have started at Miami last season, and he can get after the passer. There’s a video from 2014 when he runs through a 6’8″ 325lb Tackle during practice. The video was on vine, though, so I can’t show you. BUT IT WAS AWESOME. Muhammad famously boasted that he had “pass rushing moves nobody has ever seen before” when he committed to Miami. While that may not be true, he’s got good size, decent moves, and an ability to get after the QB.
Muhammad’s dismissal meant he wasn’t going to ever play for Miami again, so yeah, going pro 4 years out of HS makes sense. He has good measurables — he checked in at 6’3 3/4″ 253lbs with 33 1/4″ arms at the NFL Combine — and tested well. He’s not the fastest edge rusher out there (4.88 in the 40 yard dash) but his 10 yard splits (1.74) show good burst.Muhammad has the physical tools to be a good player. He was primed for a breakout year at Miami until he was dismissed, and he now has a chip on his shoulder from that whole situation. He’s shown flashes in the past (I mean, it was only 17 games, what more could really be shown?) but IF, and that’s a huge if, he can put it together, the Saints might have a steal on their hands.
Again, it comes down to the question of “Can Al-Quadin Muhammad put all his physical tools and his intermittently great technique together?”If he’s able to do that on a consistent basis, I think there’s a chance he can make the 53 man roster and be a situational pass rusher, which I’m gathering the Saints need desperately.If Muhammad’s focus is elsewhere and he plays to the floor of his potential and not the ceiling, then I doubt that he’ll even be around training camp by the time final cuts come.He could be out of town by the 1st preseason game, a solid contributor on a defense that desperately needs pass rushing, a special teams guy, or anything in-between. None of those would surprise me. As for which one is most likely, I believe that’s up to the young Mr. Muhammad and how hard he works, and if he’s able to harness his talents in a way that has seldom been seen in his career.
Well, I gave you the whole chapter and verse about his suspensions and dismissal in question 1, so I don’t think we need to rehash that.I think that viewing Muhammad as a player who needs to be on a short leash/zero tolerance policy is fair. He’s got talent, but it remains to be seen if he can tap into his potential consistently. And, as your questions have intimated and my answers have expounded, there are things in his past that make Al-Quadin Muhammad a questionable player in terms of character and behavior. He’s not the worst kind of character risk in my opinion, but he’s not a squeaky clean Boy Scout, either.The situation in New Orleans is about the best Al-Quadin Muhammad could ask for after his Miami career. He was drafted, is with an organization that needs a player of his ability, and has a chance to either earn that roster spot or not, based mainly (hopefully) on his on-field performance. He’s gotten what he always wanted: a chance to make an NFL roster.The rest — if he’s able to develop, show his ability, learn the defense, and stay out of off-the-field trouble — is up to him.Given all that’s happened to him in the last 4 years, I don’t think Al-Quadin Muhammad could ask for more or better than that.