Name: Byron Murphy
Arms: 30 ⅛”
Hands: 8 ⅞”
|40-yard Dash||Bench Press||Vertical Jump||Broad Jump|
|4.55 seconds||14 reps||36.5 inches||120.0 inches|
I have no problem labeling Byron Muphy as the most technically sound defensive back in this class. Murphy almost seems nonchalant in coverage because everything that he does, from flipping his hips to his rhythmic backpedal, appears to be second-nature to him by now. He shows impressive balance and his feet are light and quick. There’s no doubt these abilities contribute to his comfortability playing in any type of coverage scheme, from man to zone.
Murphy’s ability to recognize routes and anticipate the motions of the receiver is uncanny. He’s hardly ever caught by surprise as he diagnoses route patterns cooly and analytically. Often, Murphy puts a lot of trust in his awareness to keep track of his assignment while he flips his hips to the inside in order to read the quarterback, which demonstrates how much confidence he has in his own skills.
Every year, the one trait that separates top cornerbacks from the other are the players that can track the football and the players that can’t. Murphy falls into the former category, a true ball hawk with soft hands that always knows where the ball is. The results on tape confirm his 2018 stats, a brilliant season in which he recorded 13 pass deflections and four interceptions.
For a player of his size, Murphy is surprisingly a hard-hitter. His 2018 season is peppered with big hits on larger receivers. He’s also very good at timing his hits at the right moment to knock the ball loose, an ability that proved critical during Washington’s Pac-12 Championship versus Utah. He’s decisive, forceful, and attacks the football with zest.
Just like Greedy Williams, his competition for the title as no. 1 cornerback in the 2019 NFL Draft, Murphy struggles to be a consistent contributor in stopping the run. His small frame is easily taken advantage of by blockers and he struggles to disengage from them. While he doesn’t whiff on too many tackles, the sloppiest of his misses are from when he was too ambitious closing in on the opposing running back.
Many scouts don’t believe this is too big of a deal, but I disagree. Murphy has good burst, but his long speed (4.55 seconds at the NFL Combine’s 40-yard dash) is concerning. If faster wide receivers overpower him off the press, there’s a high chance Murphy will not be able to recover and make a play on the ball.
Defining Adjective: Consistent
Pro Comparison: Marcus Peters
Byron Murphy isn’t the tallest, fastest, biggest, or strongest cornerback in this class. He doesn’t have the measurables of a typical lockdown corner in today’s NFL. However, few players at his position come close to the consistent high-level play that shows up on Murphy’s time and time again, which is why his draft stock has risen to the top half of the first round since January. He impressed during interviews with his knowledge of the position and he uses that intelligence on the field to outsmart receivers, run their routes for them, and get to the ball with ease. His effort from the start to the end of the snap is admirable. Both he and Greedy Williams struggle defending the run, but Murphy is much more sound in his tackling and vigorously attacks ballcarriers without any hesitation or reluctance. This is why Murphy just barely edges out Williams in my cornerback rankings for the top player at the position. He may not be as flashy as Williams or completely fit the stereotype of his position, but the dependability of his game and his lack of mistakes is the reason Murphy is one of the safest and most adept picks in the draft.
Draft Projection: Round 1
Cole Topham is the lead editor for snacktimefantasy.com and covers the MLB and NFL. He enjoys watching his opponents suffer as he defeats them week after week in his fantasy football/baseball leagues.