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Byron Murphy Has The Athleticism, Instincts, & Ball Skills To Turn The Redskins CB Unit Into A Force

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Hogs Haven takes a look at 2019 NFL Draft prospects who could contribute to the Redskins

Washington v California Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

Byron Murphy, CB
School: Washington | Conference: PAC 12
College Experience: RS Sophomore | Age: 21
Height / Weight: 5-10 / 190 lbs
Projected Draft Status: 1st or 2nd Round
NFL Comparison: Mike Hughes

College Statistics

Player Overview

Arizona State tried their hardest to land 3 in state recruits when they were pursuing Byron Murphy back in 2016. Murphy was ranked as a 4-star recruit from Scottsdale. Arizona State had already landed the commitments of N’Keal Harry (5-star, Chandler, Arizona) and Chase Lucas (4-star, Chandler, Arizona) and was hoping to cap off a really strong recruiting class by landing Murphy. Murphy spurned the Sun Devils and decided to commit to Washington instead. It was seen as an upset and a big blow to Arizona’s State recruiting class. Murphy used to play football with Harry and the two had even talked about how they would attend the same university at the next level. In the end what pulled Murphy away to Washington was the relationship he had developed with Washington’s defensive backs coach. Murphy got to work right away after his redshirt freshman season. Murphy has shown great instincts, athleticism during his college career. He also has some great ball-hawk and coverage abilities. One of the biggest knocks on Murphy has been his weight and build. He’s played as low as 175 lbs during his career. Murphy must have heard about that concern because he showed up at the combine at 190 which is a much more ideal weight for him. He posted disappointing numbers at the combine but one only needs to refer back to the tape to know why Murphy is still being talked about as a top 50 selection.

Strengths

  • Good size, athleticism, instincts, and physicality for the position.
  • Murphy excels in zone coverage and has good footwork and fluidity when getting depth off the snap. Hips are fluid and he can turn fairly easily when he needs to bail or change direction. Mirrors well. He baits receivers with the cushion he give but Murphy is also good at timing and anticipation of the throw. He closed quickly and can disrupt the catch point, jump routes, or make tackles at the reception spot.
  • Plays physically, his tackling has improved a lot since his RS Freshman season. Not afraid to come up in run support and give good effort when wrapping up.
  • Aware and instinctive he picks up from cues from the QB and receivers. Shows good body adjustment to break up passes as well as good hands (6 interceptions in 2 years).
  • Highly competitive player who brings it every snap.

Weaknesses

  • Weight was a question, now that he’s bulked, up there are questions about how it has affected his athleticism. We’ll see at his pro day April 1st.
  • Even without the weight question his speed and height are is a tick below what’s ideal. He may be a candidate for the nickel position instead of the boundary in pros.
  • Needs to be more disciplined when coming down hill in from a deep position to make tackles. Angles can be off and he can overshoot his target.

Let’s see his work:

More Byron Murphy videos

How He Would Fit On The Redskins

Do the Redskins want to spend a 1st or 2nd round pick to fix their nickel CB issues? This is the question that will determine the value of Murphy to this team. The Redskins have tried to fit square pegs into round hole with the nickel position since Kendall Fuller was traded. They have unsuccessfully tried to fit Fabian Moreau and Greg Stroman into nickel duties just because they were bodies and not because of their skills. Murphy without a doubt could be a day 1 starter at the position and does have the instincts, awareness, and short area quickness to stick in the slot. Murphy also fits the Redskins current coverage scheme with his abilities to play zone so well. It may be useful to consider how the Redskins struggled down the stretch with their coverage especially in the red zone. To Moreau’s and Stroman’s credit (sort of) the void as nickel hasn’t been so much because of the number of catches and yards surrendered but because of the touchdowns given up. Murphy can help combat that issue and possibly flip some of those scoring situations on their head with his ball hawk ability. Murphy would also be another option to improve the depth at the position overall. It also would give the Redskins some flexibility at the position heading into 2020 regarding Josh Norman assuming Moreau or others make a leap. If Murphy lasts into the second round he should be in serious consideration for the Redskins.