Ovie Mughelli was originally a fourth-round pick by the Baltimore Ravens in the 2003 NFL Draft out of Wake Forest. Given that he played fullback in the NFL for a decade, Mughelli had both staying power, yet not necessarily the stats the position would have garnered for him a generation prior.
Mughelli rarely carried the ball with the Ravens, and honestly the same was true with the Falcons. However, he was named to the All-Pro Second-Team in 2006 with Baltimore. That fall saw him rush for 50 yards on 12 carries, as well as haul on 21 catches for 182 yards and two touchdowns.
Mughelli would hit free agency in 2007 and ended up signing with the Falcons. In Atlanta, he was tasked with blocking for Warrick Dunn and later Michael Turner. These are two of the best running backs in Falcons history. While Dunn only played with Mughelli for a year, there is great reason to believe that Mughelli was instrumental in both tailback’s success during his time in Atlanta.
While the 2007 NFL season was a complete disaster for the Falcons, as starting quarterback Michael Vick went to prison and head coach Bobby Petrino left mid-season to go coach the Arkansas Razorbacks in the SEC, Mughelli and the Falcons would be ready for bigger and better things in the year that followed.
Enter head coach Mike Smith, general manager Thomas Dimitroff, quarterback Matt Ryan and Turner as the team’s new bell-cow tailback. Atlanta would make the NFC playoffs for the first time since 2004 in 2008. The Falcons were playoff bound in three of Mughelli’s last four seasons with the team.
His best year as a professional came in 2010, as the Falcons went 13-3 and won the NFC South for the first time since 2004. Mughelli made his only career trip to the Pro Bowl that fall, as well as his second All-Pro Second-Team.
However, Atlanta could not get it done at home in the NFC Divisional Round, as the Falcons would lose to the eventual Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers in a laugher. Mughelli would play one last season with the Falcons in 2011. After being released by the team in summer 2012, Mughelli would briefly play with the then-St. Louis Rams before retiring.
In five seasons with the Falcons, Mughelli had 30 carries for 70 yards and a touchdown, as well as 38 catches for 295 yards and four touchdowns. Though his numbers aren’t anything special, Mughelli was a big reason the Falcons were able to pound the rock so well in the early Smith years in Atlanta. Once he left, well, things got a little worse in the ground game for the Dirty Birds.