(Editor’s Note: Heading into the upcoming NFL Draft, held May 8-10, DallasCowboys.com will take a closer look at the prospects, including some that could be potential fits with the Cowboys. Today’s featured player is Stanford linebacker Trent Murphy).
Name: Trent Murphy
Position: Outside Linebacker/Defensive End
Honors: As a fifth-year senior with the Cardinal, Murphy grabbed just about every honor there is. He was a consensus All-American, being named first-team by seven different publications. He was also a consensus All-Pac 12 selection, and was a semifinalist for both the Bednarik Award and the Lombardi Award.
Key stat: Murphy made 40 consecutive starts for Stanford, dating back to his junior season in 2011. He finished his career with 32.5 sacks, which is third in school history.
Where He’s Projected: Murphy is another one of the half dozen or so high-end pass rushing products who could project as either a 3-4 rush linebacker or a down defensive end. He doesn’t have the type of jaw-dropping athleticism that stands out at the NFL Combine, but it’s hard to argue with his college production – 15 sacks and 24.5 tackles for loss in 2013 alone. Despite that, he still ranks a bit down the list of pass rushers in this deep class. He’s projected as a likely second or third round pick.
How He Helps the Cowboys: Pass rush, pass rush, pass rush. The expectation is that Murphy will be drafted to play linebacker in a 3-4, but at 6-6, 261, he’s got the size to play defensive end in a 4-3 defense – should the Cowboys decide to try that. He played on the line some in college, so it’s not a totally foreign experience for him. It seems doubtful Murphy would become a Day 1 starter, but he’d bring much-needed depth to the defensive end rotation while he gets used to the position.
Scout’s Take: Like many of these defensive linemen in the draft that line up at end, Trent Murphy would be one of those players that you are going to have to evaluate if he is a better fit player end or as an outside linebacker. There are times during the game where he did play in a two-point stance – that is, standing straight up.
When his hand was on the ground, it was as a weak side end. He’s quick with his hands, gets off blocks quickly and can shed blockers. He will extend to take on blocker and will fire his hands inside and work to control. Murphy is a good wrap-up tackler when he gets in position.
In the Rose Bowl, Murphy had to fight some triple team blocks against Michigan State, but he showed some initial quickness off the snap. He has some bend and flex. He’s good on stunts and games, and he can really dip his shoulder and get around the corner.
I see him as a smooth-moving player, and he can set up tackles with arm-over swim move to be able to free himself. He will struggle with his balance at times. He’s able to yank tackle forward as he is going up the field. He plays with good technique and will fight blocks at point.
Perhaps Murphy’s at his best when he can rush inside – he plays with more quickness in those circumstances. He doesn’t have the power to rush down the middle, and he needs to work off the edges and attack that route. He’ll use pass rush moves.
He has used inside spin and was able to gain pressure – he’s an aware player, nice assignment awareness against the read option. Good job of breaking tackles with his hands down. He will fight down the line and chase the ball. He had a hard time against the double team, just doesn’t have the power to handle that.
But he can use his hands to play off the low block. I would like to see him do a better job in the hole, needs to finish better. He’s got awareness to rush up field then comes back inside, can retrace steps. He hustles to make the play.
Where he makes the mistake is in hopping around blocks, and it puts him and the defense in a bad position. He tries to stay active, and when he sees it, he goes after the ball. Will give ground at times but this is mainly against the double blocks. He’s a hard guy to gauge because he moves all around.
I like the player because of all the scheme things he can do. Could see him play as a weak side linebacker in a 3-4, but I also could see him play as a weak side end in a 4-3. Would not call him explosive but very steady in the way he plays.
He doesn’t make a ton of those “Wow” plays but good enough, he will surprise you how many times that he is in the pile. I believe a team will get a really nice player in him most likely in the 2nd round.