When I wrote my linebacker big board, I originally had Oklahoma’s Kenneth Murray as the fourth best linebacker entering the draft, behind Isaiah Simmons, Patrick Queen and Troy Dye. After watching some more tape of these backers, I have to say, I think I was wrong on Murray.
If I went back and rearranged the top four, I’d flip flop Queen and Murray. Aside from Simmons, I’m now of the belief that Murray is clearly the second best backer in this draft.
For starters, Murray is a sideline-to-sideline backer who tracks ball carriers very well. At the combine, Murray clocked in with a 4.52 40-yard-dash time and weighed in at a heavier than usual 241 pounds. The fact that Murray still possesses elite speed after putting on some additional muscle is great to see, because most teams are going to want him to keep that weight, or even put on a few extra pounds.
Murray is a tone-setter on defense, something the Eagles haven’t had in quite some time from the linebacker position. He’s relentless in his pursuit of ball carriers, as evidenced by this play against Baylor in the Big 12 Championship.
Although Murray isn’t stellar in man coverage, his speed makes up for it a bit and he’s still fine in zone coverage. Receivers rarely get across the middle of the field cleanly when Murray is roaming the area. He’s very good at giving receivers a chip across the middle and flowing with receivers when they enter his zone.
Murray routinely blew up screen plays during his senior season at Oklahoma. He’s able to diagnose those plays easily and his quickness is usually too much for lineman to handle in the open field.
While Murray’s speed serves him well in most instances, there are moments when his speed gets the best of him. He has a tendency to over pursue plays, simply because he reacts too quickly to the play and overruns it. Now, I’m not about to sit here and say Murray’s ‘too fast’, he just needs to refine his decision making and allow plays to come to him.
Regardless, Murray is exactly the type of linebacker you want in today’s NFL. A rangy, instinctive and athletic backer who can get from sideline to sideline in and instant.
I know the Eagles don’t seem to value backer much, but having someone like Murray in your defense will ultimately make it a better overall unit. At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter if Roseman values the position or not, Murray would still make the Eagles defense better and be a starter from day one.