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2019 NFL Draft Prospects: Washington CB Byron Murphy might just be CB1

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Murphy’s tools are eye popping, and the Pittsburgh Steelers should take notice.

NCAA Football: Pac-12 Conference Championship-Utah vs Washington Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Cornerback, the consensus top need of the Steelers this offseason. Who really wants to see Coty Sensabaugh start another game? I mean the guy played well, but he is just a good depth piece. The Steelers need a true No. 2 to be across from Joe Haden. Thus, we will examine Washington CB Byron Murphy, who has flown up boards and looks to be a slam dunk first rounder. With that in mind, it seems likely that Murphy could still be there at 20, so remember this name, Steelers fans.


Measurements

Height: 6’0”

Wt: 175 lbs

Expected 40: 4.43

Courtesy of Sportsreference.com, The Draft Network


Film Room

One of Murphy’s calling cards is that he is not afraid to get dirty in the running or screen game. He comes and screams downhill to try and get involved in all of those plays and is a willing tackler there. Due to being a staunch processor, that isn’t too big of a problem, especially since seeing guys go all out on the field has got to be one of the most desirable traits a guy could have.

This play is an example of how eager he is to get involved in that game, but also shows his high football IQ and processing. Just from the alignment Murphy realizes this is probably a screen and lines up outside of the hip of the WR, thus if he flies right off the snap he can easily make the play and avoid the block. He comes screaming down the line and blows this play up before it ever even got started. This guy plays smart all the time.

Furthermore onto this IQ and eagerness is his absolutely amazing change of direction. He mirrors to a tee and can flip his hips better than any other CB in this draft. With ball skills, Murphy simply can become shutdown.

Perfect example of what I mean. This guy straight up just lays out this dude, showing his eagerness to lay the wood, but he fluidly and smartly comes off his guy to make this incomplete. Not all CBs will do that, but when you know what is going on and can read the QB, you will be more than able to do that.

See those hips? They make even Shakira jealous.

So fluid and so easy to close to the ball. Murphy combines that fluidity with straight speed and ball skills and plays like this are the result of it. It is why he is going to be the favorite of many Steelers fans, we just don’t have this right now.

Now this is pitch perfect mirroring and hip usage. Murphy is just letting the WR dictate where he goes and he uses his fluidity to follow him. As he gets to the top of the stem, he begins to track it and with the ball skills get to knock it away easily here. You simply do not see this type of play often from CBs, but with guys who can do it, they often become future #1 CBs.

Murphy has all the leverage here. So easy to win when you can get your hands inside and force the receiver to your will. And then the ball skills are on display again. Fantastic play on the ball to get this INT. Common theme on film for Murphy.


Weaknesses

Murphy’s light frame brings concerns to his game and press skills against big bodied receivers. At times, he could be outmatched even with his physicality, so he needs to certainly bulk up. Run support due to the strength concern, but he can tackle and comes down with a flair all the time. If he can bulk up, watch out.


Fit with the Steelers

Murphy is incredibly scheme versatile and will fit into anything the Steelers want to do. He has the processing for zone, the stickiness and physicality for press, and the fluidity for off-man. His speed also makes him a possible corner blitzer, and he fits the old run support Steelers CB model. He is a dream match.


Final Thoughts

Optimistic View: Murphy becomes a true #1 CB and a perennial pro bowler and one of the best CBs in the league. With his fluidity and ball skills, there are no guys that can really beat him at all. His frame fills out with muscle and he becomes able to handle the bigger bodied guys and use the new found strength to really pony up against them.

Pessimistic View: Murphy’s frame is too light and never truly works in the NFL, and while he has the fluidity and ball skills, Murphy is only a good 2 because bigger bodied guys can dominate him at will.

My Take: Murphy’s ball skills and change of direction skills will take him far, but what will take him even further is his mental makeup. He is already an incredibly smart player, and that will only continue to evolve as he reaches the NFL. He is flexible in any scheme, and that is so key to this all. Murphy, in my opinion, is a future #1 CB.