Trent Murphy was not a popular choice with the fan base, let's face it. I admit, he probably would not have been the person I picked at that point. However, he is one of several logical choices available at the #47 position in the draft. If you doubt that, let's look at the reasons mentioned for disliking the choice in various posts on this board.
1. "I never heard of him" and therefore he's a terrible pick. Jeez, excuse the Redskins staff for not going with a fan vote for the pick. In case you are too lazy to look it up, Murphy at Stanford had 15 sacks (#1 in the nation), 23.5 TFL, 6 pass breakups, and 1 INT for a touchdown; he was a consensus All-American, making 6 All-American teams including those for SI, ESPN, and Sporting News. If you haven'[t heard of him, let's be blunt: you have no right to an opinion about whether he was a good pick - you don't know what you are talking about.
2. "We could have gotten him in the 4th or 5th round." Another clueless comment. This draft had a serious shortage of edge rushers, especially the hybrid OLB/DE types used by 3-4 defenses. The run started with Philly's reach for Marcus Smith in Round 1. Essentially, almost every edge rusher who was capable of starting by the end of 2014 was gone after the second round. If the Redskins wanted an edge rusher who was more than a major developmental project, they had to take one in the second round. As it was, he wasn't that much of a reach on most Big Boards. He was at spot #58 on the Walter Football board, #59 on the Sporting News Board, and #64 on the Sporting News board. Given the run on the thin class of edge rushers, they had to get one when they did if they needed one. He was certainly the best choice of edge rushers at that point.
3. "This wasn't a position of need." Let's see. This was the 3rd worst defense in terms of points allowed in the entire league, a consequence of never pressuring the opposing quarterback; the team was tied for 21st in sacks. In fact, the team had only 38 sacks last year, and 49% came from just two players, Orakpo (10) and Kerrigan (8.5). If either of those two went down, there was no meaningful replacement - just a hope that Brandon Jenkins (whose rookie year in the NFL was a non-event) could regain the glory he saw as a college sophomore. Not wise. And, I'd put the odds at 75-25 that they lose Orakpo, who wants top dollar for merely above average performance. If they can replace him cheaply with Murphy, they will be able to afford two extra good ($5-6 million/year) players.
By the way, the DL hopefully will be improved by Hatcher; it better be. Last year, the DBs had more sacks (4) than any single DL, and collectively they only accounted for a pathetic 5.5.
Note that exactly what position Murphy will play is not clear. He needs to add upper body strength to be a DE in a 4-3, but I could see it. Or he could be an OLB, spelling either Orakpo or Kerrigan. And imagine this scenario in passing situations: they play a 4-3, Orakpo plays DE, and Murphy plays OLB next to him, with Hatcher and Kerrigan coming from the other size. Now that might be a combination that would pressure the QB and change the fate of this defense. It might even get Orakpo enough sacks to earn that big contract he wants.
4. "They had to get their OL in the 2nd round." Anyone who has been playing with mock draft engines new this was not true. In fact, the Redskins were right that an OT would be available at the top of the 3rd. Not only was Moses there, but Billy Turner went right behind him, and 2 of the 3 top centers and 6 guards (including Gabe Jackson) went later in Round 3. Tiny Richardson, among others, is still there for the taking at the top of the 4th, I might point out.
5. Kouandjio was the savior and he wouldn't last. Well, he didn't last until the 47th pick, but a lot of teams passed on him because of his knees and attitude. He was passed over 43 times before he was chosen. A lot of people in the league weren't that sold on him, it appears.
6. He "just another Kerrigan," like that's a problem. Heaven forbid they should have a team of tough, hardworking, clean, team-first, lunch pail guys with nonstop motors. No, let's fill the roster with potheads like Fred Davis, chronic drug policy violators like Tanard Jackson, and disruptive personalities. Good Lord. While we are on the subject, a lot of people on this board seem to think Orakpo is a ton better than Kerrigan. He's not. Kerrigan has stayed healthier and plays the strong side, meaning he has more coverage responsibility and has to fight through TE blocks more often than Orakpo. Yet, Orakpo, playing the glamor weakside OLB position, had a whopping 10 sacks to Kerrigan's 8.5 last year. Tell me again why he's so much better? I for one am delighted to see the front office emphasizing character in their choices. By the way, Long will be going to medical school - he's that smart and hard working. But then, he's another Kerrigan, and we wouldn't want that.
Concluding thoughts: Like any player that the team could have taken in the middle of the 2nd round, Murphy is no sure bet. He has some very big plusses and some things he was to work on. He's got to add 25 lbs of upper body muscle - but that's not so hard (ask Kerrigan). He will never be a speed rusher. Then neither is Jared Allen, to whom Murphy has been compared. As with any 2nd round pick, there is no sure thing - but there is reason to be optimistic. Most of the reasons people have given for trashing the pick - often in really rude and offensive language - are just hot air.