Could the Pittsburgh Steelers take Byron Murphy, the cornerback from Washington in the 2019 NFL Draft?
If one thing is for sure, the Pittsburgh Steelers have a need at cornerback entering the 2019 offseason. Byron Murphy is a player who has excelled at football every step of his career.
Murphy was an All-American wide receiver and was named the best defensive back in the state in high school. He was named the scout team player of the year in his redshirt season. While Murphy broke his foot in his freshman year, he went onto be named second team All-American last season. How does the skill set meet the accolades?
Byron Murphy is a ball of fire. He plays with intense, quick feet and great route recognition to break on the football. For being an undersized cornerback, his physicality and ability to break on passes in the air is exceptional.
Murphy has great ball skills and does a good job finding the football down the field. In run support, you see the same energy. He is a downhill attacker who will fight off of blocks and chase running backs into the backfield.
Murphy is going to be undersized and height, and is going to have questions with his playing strength in weight. He is quick-footed, but does not have great deep speed. His reach is not be great either, and it can show as he can lose in press without getting his hands on his man.
With his lack of deep speed and recovery from losing in press you can see Murphy start to get grabby. He toes the line between physical and holding.
Without great size and deep speed some have pegged him into a role in the slot. Whatever the case he is likely best served in zone.
Joe Haden is a cornerback who does not have the best size or speed but uses his instincts and understanding to break on routes and make plays on the football. Murphy is more physical and more of a down hill player, but Haden came into the draft with better technique in press and ability to play any scheme.
Still, when it comes to footwork and the ability to read routes and break on the football, the two do present similarities.
Fit for the Pittsburgh Steelers
If a player has similar traits to Joe Haden, the Steelers could certainly find interest playing him across from Haden. The Steelers will most certainly like that he is young, accomplished and has ball skills.
However, they will have to question whether his height, weight and speed combination is worth the 20th overall pick. The team has Mike Hilton in the slot, and Haden does not bring size opposite of Murphy if the Steelers were to draft him.
However, the potential for an instant impact and the ability to add a smart player who makes plays on the football in the backend could be too sweet of a deal for the team to pass up on.