Byron Murphy NFL Draft profile: Everything to know about measurements, strengths, team fits
Byron Murphy is one of the best cornerbacks in this draft class
Byron Murphy isn't the biggest or fastest but he is our top-rated cornerback in this draft class because of his tenacity at the line of scrimmage, his mirroring ability downfield, and his high football IQ. He's a first-round talent who ran just a 4.55 40-yard dash at the combine but NFL teams were impressed with his drill work -- and even more impressed with his game tape.
Murphy redshirted his freshman season but played six games the following season and had two interceptions, three tackles for loss and seven passes defended. In 2018, as a redshirt sophomore, Murphy had four interceptions, four tackles for loss and 13 passes defended.
Among all FBS cornerback, Murphy ranked 17th in Pro Football Focus' yards-allowed-per-snaps-coverage metric and had a 54.5 passer rating against wide receivers.
Combine/pro day results
30 1/8 inches
8 7/8 inches
Strengths: Murphy has impressive change-of-direction ability and mirroring techniques and shows good anticipation on route progressions. He's also effective when coming off one route to attack another.
Here's an example of Williams' ability to come off one receiver to attack another route:
And he's not just a zone corner -- here he is locking down the receiver in man coverage:
Weaknesses: Murphy needs to do a better job of disengaging from wide receiver blocks on running plays but there's no doubt -- he's an athletic cornerback who plays much bigger than his 5-foot-11 frame. Some NFL teams have concerns about his size -- he also ran a 4.55 40 -- but his tape is among the best in this class.
Casey Hayward. While "zone corner" has a negative connotation to some, it shouldn't. It takes plenty of intelligence and a lot of twitchiness to excel in zone, and Hayward has become an elite player at his position without staying in the pockets of receivers all over the field. Murphy can be that type of high-impact, zone cornerback at the NFL level, and he has the smoothness in his hips and ankles to calmly man the slot if needed.
NFL teams in play to draft Murphy
Raiders: Oakland has needs all over its defense. It's more likely they target the defensive line or edge rusher with the first of their three first-round picks but they could land Murphy at No. 24 or No. 27.
Giants: New York has two first-round picks and edge rusher and quarterback are at the top of the to-do list. But cornerback isn't far behind; the team traded former first-rounder Eli Apple to the Saints during the 2018 season and there isn't much depth at the position heading into the draft.
Texans: Houston desperately needs to upgrade its offensive line but the team cut former first-round pick Kevin Johnson and Johnathan Joseph is 35 years old.
Steelers: 2016 first-round pick Artie Burns was benched last season and Pittsburgh, as seems to be the case every offseason, needs to add depth at the position.
Chiefs: Kansas City had one of the worst defenses in the league last season and a big part of that was due to a suspect secondary.
Rams: Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters both return but Talib is 33 and has one year left on his deal and Peters is coming off a down season.
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