Whoa whoa whoa, isn’t it too early for draft talk? It’s never too early for draft talk! Here at FPC Colts we always have the future of the team on our minds as well as the present. We do various mock drafts and scouting reports, and this year is no different. Welcome to the first scouting report of the 2019 Draft, Washington’s cornerback Byron Murphy!
Let’s start with the position. It’s no secret the Colts’ defense is still a work in progress, and much of their resources will be spent there. The Colts are getting great play out of their young front 7 and safeties. The likes of Kemoko Turay and Darius Leonard have especially shined. Corners Kenny Moore and Pierre Desir are playing well so far, but they seem to be the Colts only options. Desir is also a free agent after the season and may not be back. Nate Hairston looks more suited for a nickel or rotational role. Second-round pick Quincy Wilson is still a huge question mark after an underwhelming start. Another body or two would be huge for the team.
Besides pass rush, the Colts most needy position is at corner, and you could argue the opposite as well. At this point of the draft process, the crown jewel seems to be LSU CB Greedy Williams. The tall, lean corner seems to fit the mold of the Jalen Ramsey’s and Xavier Rhodes, but I’d argue Murphy may be a better fit for the Colts.
Byron Murphy, CB Washington
6-0 180 lbs RS Soph.
Matt Eberflus has switched this defense to a classic Tampa 2 scheme that predominantly uses zone coverage over man. This fact does not mean the Colts can’t use an excellent press man corner, but it does mean that zone coverage ability is crucial.
Murphy has an excellent comprehension of route combination in off coverage, allowing him to recognize quickly and break on the throw. A great example of this is in the gif below:
He is lined up on the outside receiver but promptly identifies where the throw is going to go. He breaks on the ball and demolishes the slot receiver to break up the play. This violent but legal hit is a great example of what Murphy brings to a defense as well.
Murphy doesn’t just break up plays with hits; the former high school wideout has excellent ball skills too. Here he takes advantage of a bad throw by the QB for an interception.
Again lined up on the boundary receiver, Byron drops back into an outside zone and then breaks across the middle and plucks the ball out of the air for the pick. Murphy loves to fall back into his area and read the QBs eyes like a book to make plays. The redshirt sophomore excels at it. It could get him in trouble at the next level if he bites too early, but his discipline and patience are good enough to avoid too many of these instances.
Another example of this is again shown in his 2017 matchup against Rutgers; this almost looks like a Malik Hooker play from the safety position.
Byron drops back into a deeper zone, again reading the QB and the play. He then plants his foot and comes downhill to launch into the throwing lane for another interception
What truly makes a great playmaker is instincts, just knowing where to be to blow up a play. We are starting to see it from Hooker and Leonard, and Murphy has the same trait if not greater.
Here he sniffs out a screen before the snap and beats the ball to the receiver. You can’t go through a few plays of his tape without noticing the Huskies’ corners elite instinct. The most important part? He finishes at a high rate, rewarding his instincts.
Although Murphy is a willing tackler, he doesn’t always wrap, and he will need to improve that in the pros. Byron isn’t tied to his zone, as he is always looking to make a play, allowing him to be in on almost every play it seems. Again, he will need to avoid veteran QBs from using his aggressiveness against him, but his instincts are on another level, and I am not sure it will be a problem once he gets some NFL experience. Here he blows up a blow coming off his route, and almost a textbook play if he wrapped.
A familiar trap teams fall into is drafting a guy with great measurables but not enough fluidity. These corners struggle to hang with the equally athletic receivers. Murphy does not have this problem, as the defensive back smooth hips and moves fluidly in pass coverage. This allows him to mirror receivers perfectly, a trait that undersized Colts corner Kenny Moore does exceptionally well.
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Here Murphy displays strength and a weakness at the same time, his mirroring and size. He follows the receiver to begin the route, staying on his hip but is out bodied for the completion. This will happen from time to time, and he will need to add weight to his 180 lb frame, but there are some things you can’t teach, and Murphy has those.
Chris Ballard loves fast, athletic corners with ball skills, Murphy checks off all of those. Matt Eberflus defense thrives on instinct and playmaking abilities to play as quickly as possible, and Murphy checks those off too. He may not be the biggest, and his aggressive plays may get him in trouble at times early on in his career, so he may not go as high as a Greedy Williams. However, Murphy almost fits the Colts system to a T and should be available when the Colts pick early to middle of the first round. Today’s NFL defense should be worried about two things, gaining extra possessions for their offense and turning touchdowns into field goals, and again, Byron Murphy can help do all those things.
Personal note: Murphy is quickly my second favorite prospect in this draft behind Nick Bosa, and if the Colts miss out on the top five type players in the draft, they should run to the podium with the PAC 12 stud. I can almost guarantee I will do a second look at Murphy when more film comes available on him as the draft gets closer, so stay tuned!
Article by: Maxx Hotton
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