- John Keim, ESPN Staff Writer
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The plan was to watch linebacker Trent Murphy before the draft, knowing that he would be a possibility with the second pick in the third round. But there were a handful of other pass rushers to get to before him. So I never made it. And then they drafted him. So now here’s a mini-scouting report on the Redskins second-round pick (47th overall).
What I liked: Excellent production and solid all-around player. Terrific hands in the pass rush and helped him shed blocks in run support, too. Keeps them tight; quick hands, too. His sacks and pressures not just the result of QBs holding onto the ball. Had one against Michigan State in which he beat the left tackle to the outside with his hands, squeezed inside a (horrible) block by the running back and sacked the quarterback in 2.6 seconds. Saw others in that range as well. Another took 3.3 against USC. Good variety of moves (has a spin move). Understands how to play with leverage --in both the pass and run game -- and when he did, would shed blocks in the run game and get tackles for a loss. Saw him get triple teamed on occasion against USC and Michigan State. Saw two blockers on him a number of times --whether assigned double teams or a guard/running back/tight end helping out. Lined up all over: as an end on either side in a three- or four-point stance; as a standup linebacker on either side. Disciplined rusher; did not see him lose his gap or freelance. Didn’t see him fooled; saw him locate the ball well.
Against both USC and Michigan State -- close games -- Murphy made some of his bigger plays late so the motor runs strong all game. Seems to understand angles. Showed good movement in coverage; the Redskins say he’s a fluid athlete and I would agree. Doesn’t mean he’s a great athlete, but he moves well. Saw him drop in zone; saw him cover backs and tight ends one-on-one. Can’t say he’s great here, but he did move fine. Plays special teams. Saw him rushing the punter and was on field goal protection. In fact, in the Michigan State game, he caught a pass on a failed attempt (nullified by a penalty). Did not see him get taken out of a play by double teams in the run game.
What I didn’t: Is not a great athlete and will not beat linemen with his burst or his speed. Ran the 40-yard dash in 4.86 seconds at the combine. There were times when tackles recovered on moves that should have resulted in greater pressure. If he got you with his hands initially, then watch out. If not, athletic and long-armed tackles would recover. Rounds off his rushes at times, similar to Ryan Kerrigan; in some cases that was because he was rushing to contain (against Oregon, for example). But in other cases it just helped the tackles recover. No explosive moments; it’s just not his game. Has good height at 6-foot-5, but could probably stand to add another 10 pounds or so to play outside and hold up against the run long-term.
Scout's take: One scout provided this assessment of Murphy's game: "An old-fashioned SAM linebacker, not very quick but productive. Not flashy, smart, big but slow twitch as a rusher."
Summary: A lot to like about Murphy, though I don’t know if there’s anything that makes you say, ‘Wow’ or makes you jump up and down. Hence: mid-to-late second rounder. That’s not a bad thing necessarily; it just means he’s not explosive. You need to let his game marinate in your mind a little bit because there are a lot of things he does well. Was he a reach? I don't know; I know what some experts say (some of whom had certain guys rated high who remained on the board in the third or are still undrafted, so who knows?) I know the Redskins liked him before the draft so it really only depends how their board stacked up. He can be a productive player and he’ll be helped by being able to play off better rushers, drawing more solo matchups. He can help on special teams and should add toughness and smarts at the position. It does mean that Brandon Jenkins and Rob Jackson have some work to do. Is he Brian Orakpo's eventual replacement? Not sold on that one yet. If the Redskins find a way to get their starters and Murphy on the field a lot and all are productive, then why break that up?
The plan was to watch linebacker Trent Murphy before the draft, knowing that he would be a possibility with the second pick in the third round. But there were a handful of other pass rushers to get to before him.