When it comes to the 2014 NFL Draft for the Philadelphia Eagles, OLB is most likely the position at the top of their list. Safety is arguably their biggest need, but my hope is that the Eagles address that via free agency.
Besides safety, getting a pass rusher is easily the next biggest thing to address this offseason. Hell, some (including the Eagles’ brass) may view it as a bigger need than safety.
So, assuming the Eagles are in the market for a pass rusher at pick No. 22, it’s not likely that any of the top rated pass rushers will still be on the board. Players that are projected more as 3-4 OLBs like Anthony Barr, Khalil Mack, and Vic Beasley (if he declares) will most likely be long gone by the time the Eagles are on the clock.
There could be a few guys that look more like 4-3 DEs there, but we know that the Eagles will be looking for guys that fit their version of the 3-4.
When you take into account Chip Kelly’s “big people beat up little people” philosophy as well as perhaps his most greatly desired player attribute in versatility, there is somewhat of an under-the-radar player that the Eagles could consider in Round 1…
His name is Trent Murphy.
Murphy is a 6′ 6″ 261 lbs DE/OLB from Stanford. This past season he posted 15 sacks, 23.5 tackles for a loss, two forced fumbles, six pass break ups, and one interception. If you look at his past two seasons combined, those numbers go to 25, 41.5, 3, 10 and 2 respectively.
That is excellent production.
The draft sites I’ve checked so far have him listed as a defensive end. However, he’s mostly projected as an outside linebacker/hybrid in a 3-4 scheme. He’s also mostly projected as a late first, early second round player at this point.
Here is a great scouting report on him from InsidetheWarRoom -
Agility – A former track star, the 6-6, 260-pound Murphy flashes a unique blend of size, speed, balance and reach. While he may not be the most nimble pass-rusher in the 2014 class, it would be a mistake to dismiss him as simply a ‘try-hard guy’. He’s not flashy and explosive like some of his peers towards the top of the draft, being only adequate in his change-of-direction and lateral movement, but overall is plenty athletic for the next level.
Coverage – For a player his size, Murphy is surprisingly adept in coverage, with Stanford’s defensive scheme in 2013 asking much more of him in this department. He is used as a nickel backer at times and gets into his drops quickly, showing good diagnostic skills and looking comfortable when he is able to keep things in front of him.
He does a good job getting physical and using his hands to reroute receivers who come into his area but where he understandably can get into trouble is when he is forced to change direction quickly and flip his hips. However, his limitations here aren’t so severe that they would prevent him from playing as an outside linebacker in a 3-4.
Pass rush – Murphy is at his best off the edge, where he can use his speed to bend the corner, demonstrating an effective spin move, as well as the quickness and flexibility to dip his shoulder and lean around.
Overall – A durable, hard-working talent, Murphy plays every snap to the finish, continuing to put up impressive numbers while being the focal point of everyone’s pass protection. From a height, weight, speed, athletic perspective, he’s an excellent prospect, who makes up for a lack of top-end explosiveness by being one of the most complete pass-rusher in the 2014 class.
Comfortable playing in space as a 3-4 outside linebacker but more so with his hand on the ground as a defensive end, the dearth in legitimate 4-3 end prospects this year makes Murphy one of the top options at the position, while his versatility should put him in play for consideration from numerous teams needing pass-rush help.
As he has shown at Stanford, Murphy is a smart player, who can be used in multiples positions and roles, and could prove a real weapon for a creative-minded defensive coordinator – there simply aren’t many guys that size who can do what he does. If concerns over where he’ll fit at the next level or the fact he’s not a flashy athlete cause him to drop further than anticipated come draft day, some team will be getting a real steal.
*Check the link for some video and much more detail in their scouting report.
After watching some game film of him courtesy of draftbreakdown.com, the above scouting report seems like a very fair assessment (if you go and read the entire scouting report).
Murphy doesn’t have that “explosive first step” that all draft analysts look for in pass rushers, but he meets all of the criteria that Chip Kelly will be looking for in a player.
Furthermore, he plays in the Pac-12 and played against Kelly while he was at Oregon. Last year, Kelly drafted four players he coached against.
In 2012, Stanford ruined Chip’s bid for a perfect season and Trent Murphy was a factor in that game by posting two sacks and batting down a pass. In that game, Stanford lined Murphy up all over the place to help contain the Ducks’ explosive attack.
Did he make a good enough impression on Chip? If so, he’ll remember and that could become a factor on draft day.
And speaking of Murphy lining up all over the place, that is why he’s viewed as perhaps the most versatile OLB/DE coming out in this year’s draft. Do you think Kelly and Bill Davis would be interested in a player they can put in a variety of positions?
Absolutely! Here’s the key piece from the above scouting report:
“As he has shown at Stanford, Murphy is a smart player, who can be used in multiples positions and roles, and could prove a real weapon for a creative-minded defensive coordinator – there simply aren’t many guys that size who can do what he does.”
The combine will be of huge importance to a guy like Murphy. If he tests well there, his stock could surge enough to where it could be questionable he’d even be on the board at 22. If he bombs, his stock could plummet.
With that said, there’s a decent chance he tests well enough to keep him in the first round conversation but not well enough to make him shoot up into the top 20.
Murphy is the kind of player this regime would draft, plays at a position of need, who should be good value and has a good chance to be on the board at pick No. 22.