Summary: LSU and Florida have a running debate about which university is known as "DB U" but the Washington Huskies belong in that conversation as well. A couple of years ago, the Huskies program produced three second-round picks in a single draft, and that comes after developing many other NFL defensive backs. Murphy is the headliner in this year's group, which could see three or four more Washington defensive backs drafted. Quickly in his NFL career, Murphy could be starting for his pro team, just like his fast development in college.
Despite being a redshirt freshman in 2017, Murphy broke out with three interceptions, seven passes broken up and 16 tackles. He then played really well as a sophomore, recording 58 tackles, four interceptions and 13 passes defended in 2018.
Washington defensive coordinator Jimmy Lake is a former NFL defensive backs coach who has developed the likes of Aqib Talib, and Lake did an excellent job of coaching Murphy. Murphy enters the NFL as a polished cornerback with good technique and intelligence.
The things that stand out most about Murphy are his awareness and instincts. He does an excellent job of reading the offense and getting himself in position to make plays. Murphy is instinctive in his route diagnosis, aware of what the offense is trying to do, and reacts quickly. With his instincts getting him in position, Murphy shows good ball skills to break up passes or pick them off. He is very calm and comfortable with the ball in the air, showing a knack for timing his contact well to avoid penalties while breaking up passes. During is NFL career, Murphy could produce some good interception totals as he has good hands to snatch the ball out of the air, and he plays the ball extremely well.
Through Lake's coaching, Murphy is versatile to play inside or outside, which will help him to contribute quickly as an outside or slot cornerback. Murphy can play zone, off-man or press-man coverages. On the negative side, Murphy is skinny and his playing speed is above average at best. Thus, Murphy's thinner frame and speed would make him not as good of a fit as a press man corner for the NFL.
In speaking to team sources, numerous teams graded Murphy in the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft. However, teams don't have 32 first-round graded players, so some second-round talents will get selected on the opening night of the draft. Murphy is in the running to be one of those players because he plays a premium position and has tools to work with.
Player Comparison: Kyle Fuller. Murphy reminds me of a taller, skinnier version of Fuller. Both have good instincts and ball skills with the versatility to play a variety of techniques or line up at different positions. In the NFL, I could see Murphy being a similar player to Fuller.
NFL Matches: Denver, Washington, Carolina, Cleveland, Tennessee, Pittsburgh, Houston, Oakland, Philadelphia, Indianapolis, Tampa Bay, New York Giants
Cleveland made a great pick in Denzel Ward last year and could use an upgrade to go with him. The Titans also could use an upgrade to go with Adoree' Jackson. Pittsburgh could use more corner talent, and Murphy could be the Steelers' future replacement for Joe Haden.
The Texans badly need cornerback help because their veteran corners were a liability last year and Aaron Colvin was a bust of a free agent signing. Oakland need more corner talent to go with Gareon Conley, so Murphy could interest the Raiders in the 20s.
Philadelphia needs young cornerback talent, especial if Ronald Darby isn't re-signed. The Colts could use more young cornerback talent as well. The Rams could use some long-term help at corner as both Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters are nearing the end of their contracts.
The Giants could move up for Murphy from their second-round pick. That is a need for the defense after trading away Eli Apple, plus Janoris Jenkins could be a cap cut before long.
In the second round, the Bucs need a No. 1 corner as Vernon Hargreaves has disappointed and Brent Grimes is entering free agency. However, Tampa Bay took a few corners early on in the 2018 NFL Draft after selecting Vernon Hargreaves with the 11th-overall pick in 2016, so they not want to draft a corner in the first few rounds.
If the Broncos don't take a corner in the first round, they could move up from their second-round pick in hopes of landing Murphy. Denver needs a true No. 1 cornerback to replace Aqib Talib. If the Redskins cut Josh Norman, they could consider Murphy if they trade down in the first round. Carolina has some quality cornerbacks, but if Murphy is the best player available, he could be a good fit for the Panthers if they move down in Round 1.