Byron Murphy is one of those kids you just know is going to be special. Murphy is a red- shirt sophomore and is eligible for the 2019 NFL draft if he chooses to enter. I usually don’t highlight players like Byron but he has a certain little something that makes you want to watch; a swagger that is not cocky, it’s confidence.
Byron Murphy committed to the University of Washington in January of 2016. He was a redshirt that year but he won the team’s defensive scout team MVP and also the “loco Perros” award for work in the weight room. This hints at how committed the kid is.
Once you watch this kid on the field, you are amazed by the calmness and the clarity of decision he makes on a play.
Look at the calmness he has on the play. He is in man coverage with no worry about a man going by him. He is in the hip pocket of the receiver all the way and the pass is incomplete. He understands that when he pushes the receiver to the sideline there is very little room for a reception. By staying under the receiver he allows no room for the completion.
The next play features a pass that should never have been thrown. Nevertheless it was thrown, and Murphy makes a play on the ball. The pass is late and over the middle and the receiver falls down but Murphy makes a nice play and intercepts the ball.
Murphy is in zone coverage so he sees the play in front of him and still would have made a play on the ball even if the receiver had not fallen down. He uses two hands to catch the ball, like a quality receiver, and goes from defense to offense in an instant.
The next clip shows zone coverage. Murphy is playing off, in a spy roll. He is allowed some freedom to react and he picks off the pass.
Murphy reads the QB’s eyes on this play as he stares down the receiver. He sits back and waits until the QB throws the ball, then jumps the route so he doesn’t collide with the receiver. Murphy plays this like a veteran.
Murphy is too small to be a safety but he isn’t too small to lay out a receiver. Here he does a great job reading the play, following the QB’s eyes to the ball.
This is the type of hit you must deliver in the NFL today. I would prefer a wrap tackle but he leads with his shoulder with his head off to the side. He should keep his head up to see what he is hitting but he is coming in from an angle, making it more difficult. He at least avoids contact with the head and still breaks up the pass with a resounding hit.
Murphy’s stats are impressive for a player who has played in just 19 college games. He has 72 tackles (50 solo), seven tackles for loss, one sack, six interceptions with one pick six, 20 passes defended and two forced fumbles. He can play in any defensive scheme and has the skill set to play anywhere in the defensive backfield on any play. He is smart, confident (yet not cocky) and he has the speed and quickness to play either outside or in the slot.
Murphy is a redshirt sophomore who has not yet declared for the draft. If and when he does I will have a more detailed scouting report. For a player only three years out of high school Murphy has a myriad of awards to his name. He is a 2018 First Team All-American (PFF, Athlon’s), a 2018 Second Team All-American (AP, SI, USA Today, Sporting News) 2018 Pac 12 Championship Game MVP, 2018 All Pac 12 First Team, and 2018 Bednarik Award semifinalist. The Bednarik award is presented annually by the Maxwell club to the best defensive player in college football.