2021 NFL Draft: Marcus Murphy Player Profile

Marcus Murphy NFL Draft Overview

Position: Strong Safety
Height: 5’11”
Weight: 198 lbs.
School: Mississippi State University

2021 NFL Draft: Marcus Murphy Player Profile

Marcus Murphy is an intriguing prospect coming out of Mississipi State University. Perceptions of his play at the collegiate level vary widely, making it nearly impossible to establish a consensus on the young defender.

Murphy accrued nearly 1,900 rushing yards, 31 rushing scores, about 1,100 passing yards, and nine passing scores as a senior quarterback at West Point High School. Despite his athletic success under center, Mississippi State moved the three-star recruit to strong safety. He would play 23 games at his new position over the next three years. As a freshman, he contributed significantly to special teams, especially on the kickoff team. If he was not making the play-killing tackle, he was creating new lanes for teammates to make the tackle.

Murphy opted out of the 2020 season after six games to protect his son, Mason. The pandemic presented unnecessary risk due to Mason’s rare genetic abnormality. As noble a decision as it was, it hindered NFL front offices from adequately scouting him. Nonetheless, after declaring for the 2021 NFL Murphy’s collegiate career was effectively concluded. He finished his three-year tenure with the Bulldogs with 67 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, two interceptions (one of which he took back for six), and between three and five credited deflections, depending on your source. Despite these relatively tame numbers, Murphy had far more of an impact on passing attacks than said numbers suggest.

Pro Day Results and What They Mean

At his pro day, Marcus Murphy scored decently in numerous categories. His best 40-yard dash time was 4.48 seconds, which is comparable to Eric Weddle or Patrick Chung. However, his average 40-yard dash time measured out to 4.54 seconds, which is more comparable to Harrison Smith or Landon Collins. While none of these aforementioned safeties are blazing fast or world-beaters in any capacity, it offers a reasonable expectation for the speed with which Murphy might play at the professional level.

Boasting a 78-inch wingspan, Murphy’s reach is considerable. Considering his otherwise diminutive frame, this wingspan is outstanding and is likely to turn heads in multiple front offices. His 38.5-inch vertical leap was also impressive and should help Murphy defend contestable passes, especially when bearing in mind his sub-six-foot stature. The young safety also notched over 10 feet in his broad jump test, emphasizing his freak athleticism.

While his pro day made clear Murphy is naturally gifted and a physical specimen who might see his draft stock rise as a result of the NFL Combine, his intangibles did not consistently appear on tape. Some argue he lacks effort and technique while tackling or generally playing the run on defense. His special teams endeavors, specifically on the kickoff unit, suggest otherwise, however. The conflicting opinions on Murphy’s tackling ability imply he is best suited for a team with a nuanced defensive backs coach or defensive coordinator.

Strengths

  • Fluid hips;
  • Plays strong despite frame (totaled 11 reps on the bench press at his pro day);
  • Naturally gifted;
  • Beyond willing to contribute on special teams, especially on kickoff;
  • Decent top-end speed and body control.

Weaknesses

  • Inconsistent effort and instincts;
  • Will require extensive coaching on tackling technique and defensive angles;
  • Was suspended from team in 2019 for “violating team rules”;
  • Struggles to use his natural athleticism in conjunction with refined technique;
  • Can find himself out of position; will require an experienced coach at the pro level.

NFL Comparison: Kelcie McCray

Teams With Need at Position: Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, Dallas Cowboys, Denver Broncos, Detroit Lions, Jacksonville Jaguars, Las Vegas Raiders, New York Jets, Philadelphia Eagles, and Washington Football Team

Projection: Sixth-to-Seventh Round, Possible U.D.F.A.

Bottom Line on Marcus Murphy

Only having played in 11 games since the conclusion of the 2018 season, Marcus Murphy does not offer front offices much tape to look at. Unfortunately for Murphy, this will likely cause his draft stock to plummet— possibly even out of the draft entirely. His intrinsic athleticism, however, could certainly intrigue a general manager or a head coach enough to take a flyer on him late in the penultimate or final round. If Murphy can translate the commitment and willingness fans saw in his special teams contributions at MSU to a relentless work ethic as a pro, his draft position might not even matter.

He is at least two-to-three years from having developed enough to even make an argument for a starting role on defense. If a team drafts him or signs him as an undrafted free agent after the draft ends, they will need to commit multiple seasons to coaching him up to the point he is a serviceable rotational player. The more he plays, however, the more likely he is to develop into a respectable contributor on defense.

Considering the instant success Murphy experienced in his first year of playing safety after switching from quarterback, Murphy may shock everyone as a pro. He could prove himself a steal for the team that takes a chance on him. Wherever Murphy lands—if anywhere at all—will require patience. Unfortunately, patience is in short supply when it comes to rookies in the NFL.

Main Photo: Embed from Getty Images


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