NAME: Kenneth Murray
WEIGHT: 235 pounds
Linebacker is one of the possible positions that the Kansas City Chiefs could look to improve in entering 2020. It was nice to see the strides the group took this past season. Anthony Hitchens returned to a shut down type of tackler. Whereas, Reggie Ragland and Damien Wilson even exceled in big games in this area. Do not forget about Ben Niemann. The former undrafted free agent has come a long away, and has the trust of the Chiefs coaching staff. However, there is always room for improvement. Here is our first linebacker draft prospect profile, as we dive into the game of Oklahoma middleman Kenneth Murray.
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Murray’s tackle attempts can look like car crashes. Meaning, it may not always look pretty, but he can get the job done. It is not always these smooth, formed tackles either. Murray wraps up opposing ball carriers with a vicious, intense style. Furthermore, he is explosive and powerful, which pairs nicely with his length. He is not afraid to use his upper body to bring down players. Skill players must get tired of how high he comes in on them. But for Murray, it is very effective and consistent.
It took awhile for the Chiefs linebackers to show what kind of sideline to sideline mobility they possessed. Murray may have even more juice in this area. Many times, he will catch running backs or quarterbacks from behind on the outside. This is also due to both calculated angles and the ability to slip in between gaps. Blockers out in space have a difficult time in slowing him down. To boot, speed jumps off the page, given his size. There can be instances where Murray is almost too fast and will run too far up the field. He can get caught by cutback runs. But overall, Murray is a delightful toy for defensive coaches to use when covering every inch of grass.
Murray is just strictly juiced as a defender. He will eat up short spaces quickly. His long strides can be both a benefit and a deterrent. When it is a benefit, Murray flies through ball carriers, rather than just pulling them to the ground. On the other hand, there are times where we see him overcompensate and take too many steps in tight spaces. He will fly through a gap and often defeat blockers to the attack point. Murray’s speed simply blows up plays in these situations.
Taking On Blocks
This is possibly the part of Murray’s game that could use the most development. At times, he forgets to use his arms or is too aggressive here. Nonetheless, he usually has strong resistance for oncoming blockers. There are just awkward moments that are head scratching in these situations. Again, Murray can slip through gaps and blocks with ease. Yet if an opponent gets the upper hand, he can get run over.
In the pass happy Big 12, Murray definitely generated a ton of pass coverage reps as well. He has defended running backs on swing routes or on screens. Meanwhile, opponents have not shied away from using a tight end or inside receiver against him. Murray presents things to like when playing in zone coverage. The aforementioned range, along with his length, go a long way in shutting down throws over the middle of the field. He is smart to flip his hips in both zone and man coverage to work with the opponent. However, trailing those players downfield is shaky.
Murray could mesh well with the likes of Hitchens. He is most effective when working downhill to blitz or blow up a play. His consistency in tackling, shooting gaps, as well as upside in coverage will make him a three down defender in the NFL. Once again, his range and sideline to sideline ability may be better than any of the current Chiefs linebackers. Also, Ragland and Darron Lee are notable Kansas City linebackers entering free agency. Murray would be able to excel in their roles at SAM linebacker or even down near the line of scrimmage.
Be on the lookout for more Chiefs offseason coverage. Included will be draft profiles, free agency talk and we will continue our unsung Super Bowl heroes series. For more great sports and NFL content, stay tuned to Full Press Coverage.
– Braden Holecek is the Kansas City Chiefs managing editor for Full Press Coverage. He covers the NFL. Like and follow on Follow @ebearcat9//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js Follow @FPC_Chiefs//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js and Facebook.