*Walt taking 2014 and 2018
Charlie Campbell, Senior Draft Analyst
Multiple Sources See Top-10 Potential for Kenneth MurrayUpdated Oct. 24, 2019
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.
In the past few drafts, non-pass rushing linebackers have made a comeback as top-10 picks. For a number of years in the early part and middle of the decade, the linebacker position was downgraded somewhat in the draft, with non-pass-rushing linebackers sliding out of the top 10. But over the past couple of years, inside linebackers have returned as top-10 picks, with the Bears taking Roquan Smith and the Buccaneers selecting Devin White in back-to-back drafts. The streak could extend to three years in a row during the 2020 NFL Draft because multiple team sources Oklahoma linebacker Kenneth Murray with top-10 potential.
Murray has been a consistent tackler for the Sooners since his freshman season, when he had a solid debut with 78 stops. As a sophomore, he exploded with 155 tackles and was all over the field for Oklahoma. Murray is up to 51 tackles with 2.5 sacks and two passes batted thus far this year, and on top of his production and good tape, Murray has a skill set that really impresses scouts.
The 6-foot-2, 243-pounder is a very physical tackler with sideline-to-sideline speed and has some ability to take on blocks at the point of attack. They say Murray can really run and is a versatile linebacker who can play Mike – middle – or outside linebacker. Evaluators like his athleticism and coverage ability, which are vital to be a three-down starter and difference-maker for a non-pass-rushing linebacker in the passing-driven NFL.
On top of his skill set, Murray has good instincts and versatility. Some scouts say that his pass-rush ability is better than some players who do it on an every-down basis. Murray has shown he is a dangerous blitzer this year, displaying speed off the edge with the ability to bend, dip, and turn the corner. If Murray slides lower in the first round, it could be because of the medical evaluation, but that will be determined at the combine and later on in the draft process.
Multiple team sources call Murray a better prospect than other recent first-round linebackers, including Leighton Vander Esch, Haason Reddick, Tremaine Edmunds and Alec Ogletree. Evaluators feel that Murray is more on a par with Roquan Smith and Devin White. Hence, they see Murray having top-10 potential for the 2020 NFL Draft.