An inside look at DT Helva Matungulu

Dec 14, 2014; Nashville, TN, USA; New York Jets logo prior to the game against the Tennessee Titans at LP Field. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 14, 2014; Nashville, TN, USA; New York Jets logo prior to the game against the Tennessee Titans at LP Field. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports /

When it comes to the New York Jets, they added a plethora of undrafted free agents with hopes of finding a diamond in the rough. Can defensive end Helva Matungulu make the final roster?

I’ve been covering the potential talent that the Jets found post draft in the undrafted free agent market in a series of articles done in the past two weeks. This time around, I’d like to take a look at defensive tackle Helva Matungulu.

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Matungulu played five years at the college level for Western Carolina University. He was born in Nairobi Kenya. Before arriving in the United States, and consequently, Western Carolina, Matungulu had never seen NFL football. He played organized rugby in his native country and helped his team post back to back consecutive regional championships.

Standing 6’5″ and tipping the scales at 290 pounds, Matungulu was hard to miss on Western Carolina’s campus. He showed up and signed up for football activities in the summer of 2011. Redshirting in 2011 and 2012, he was training along the offensive line, his career began in earnest the following year.

In 2013, Matungulu made the switch to defensive lineman and appeared in 11 of 12 games on the season. His athleticism and speed stood out to the coaching staff which allowed him to be given the nod to start three games in what would be seen as his “rookie season”. In 2014 and 2015, Matungulu continued to develop his game and began to gain interest from NFL scouts.

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For his college career, he appeared in 31 games, posted 53 tackles, 19 solo and seven for loss.

Meager by some measure, but for a guy who hadn’t seen a football before 2011, it’s pretty impressive.

Ultimately, Matungulu wasn’t invited to the 2016 NFL Combine, but had several scouts express interest at his Pro Day.

He played in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl where he once again impressed scouts with his size and athleticism. At Appalachia State University’s Pro Day, Matungulu shocked many by turning in some big time results. The big man weighed in at 296 and proceeded to post a low of 5.00 seconds in the forty-yard dash and a high of 5.22 seconds.

He further proved his athleticism with a 4.62 second time in the 20-yard shuttle and a 7.84 in the three-cone drill. Rounding out his day, Matungulu put up 25 reps of 225 pounds to go along with a 8’11” broad jump and a 28 1/2″ vertical jump.

The Jets are talented and deep with talent along the defensive line, so Matungulu will have an uphill battle this summer. He’s been described as a solid tackler by scouting reports, and his coaches describe him as hard working, quick learning player with good football instincts.

Matungulu is a project, he may or not ever start a game for an NFL team, but his skills may very well translate to a need for the Jets. Special teams has been a weakness for several years now, and competition promises to be intense this summer. With Matungulu’s speed and reputation as a solid tackler, he could find himself in the thick of things.

Like all of these young players who went undrafted, Mantungulu is a long shot. They will get their shot to impress the coaching staff and develop their games further. Make sure to keep an eye on Matungulu, he’s got potential, and many should look forward to seeing what he may become for the Jets.

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Do you have a thought on Matungulu? Do you have a favorite undrafted free agent for the Jets? We here at The Jet Press want to hear about it! Please leave us a comment below and Let’s Talk Jet Football!!