Byron Murphy, CB, Washington
When Murphy’s name is announced on the podium, somewhere in Houston a single tear rolls down Deshaun Watson’s cheek. “Cornerback,” Roger Goodell had just said. Not tackle, not guard, not center. Cornerback. He sits there, blankly staring at the television, wondering what he did to deserve this abysmal Texans O-Line. His silent cry engulfs the city; he won’t be getting the protection he needs today.
But hear me out, not all hope is lost.
I sat and watched as Cody Ford came off the board at 11 and Andre Dillard went two picks later. Those were my top two targets, as I desperately dreamed one would fall to Houston here at 23. But alas, my choice of linemen was limited to the point of me asking myself, “Is it worth it?” I could’ve gone with Garrett Bradbury (C, NCST) for the Texans, who is my next highest rated offensive lineman. But in this situation the pick just wasn’t right. Bradbury would be just a tad of a reach at 23, a desperation pick as Houston announces to the whole world, “WE NEED AN O-LINE!” Not only that but current Texans center Nick Martin, their second round pick from 2016, is the only player on that line with any sort of job security. Either he or Bradbury would have to shift to guard, which isn’t ideal. Bradbury was a successful center at NC State and a move to guard would not be capitalizing on his ceiling at his natural position.
However even still, the fact that that the Texans won the division with that O-Line creates the exciting question of what that offense is capable of with legitimate starters. But abandoning BPA philosophy would be worse for Houston in the long run. Bradbury is not BPA at 23 when considering what Houston is looking for. Because when you’ve got two cornerbacks at the top of their class available to you, there’s no reason to pass up on a better talent AND simultaneously fill your next biggest roster need. The board falls nicely for Houston in that BPA at 23 still coincides with their roster hole at the second cornerback spot who would join newly acquired FAs Bradley Roby and Tashaun Gipson in a revamped secondary.
This team is going to see a full O-Line rebuild that can’t be accomplished with one pick. I’d expect Houston to take offensive linemen with both of their second round picks, back to back at 54 and 55. That would not surprise me in the least. But there’s no need to force a pick at 23 just for the sake of only drafting for need when they’ll still have a plethora of linemen waiting for them in the second round. At 23rd overall, Garrett Bradbury is just not the optimal selection for the Houston Texans.
And so now that the outcry over not going O-Line is hopefully settled, it’s time to address my pick.
Byron Murphy lacks size, but more than makes up for that in football IQ and instincts. The former UW Huskies corner excels in zone but has also demonstrated remarkable ability to stick to a receiver cleanly without committing unnecessary penalties. This leads to a lot of big plays (7 INTs and 20 PBUs on just 87 career targets) with a lower risk of getting burned like many corners who get too aggressive on the ball. He also is a skilled run-support defender, flashing the ability to get downhill to the ball quickly. Murphy is everything you want in a cornerback except the measurables.
It’s easy to get overly wrapped up in numbers. 5’11’’, 190 lbs with just a 4.55 40 time. Arms and hands both in the lower echelon of CBs. Nothing eye-popping in bench press and the jumps. But with Murphy it’s not about the numbers. The eye test says it all. Watching the Combine he stood out to me more than any other player. His supposed “bumpy backpedal”, a weakness listed on his NFL.com profile, was not evident at all in Indianapolis. In fact, he looked to be the smoothest player amongst the group at his transitions and movement. His balance when moving backwards was superb, keeping his hips straight and properly aligned. One thing you’ll notice about the way he plays is that off the snap he loves to stay turned towards the quarterback, giving him the chance to read the play and position himself accordingly. There are times though where because of this the receiver has been able to beat him on a quick break. However, after watching his vastly improved backpedalling I have no doubt he can balance his game to both keep track with the receiver off the snap and keep view of the QB. One of his weaknesses may end up being one of his biggest strengths if he can consistently win right off the snap.
Murphy has a good ability to keep his eyes on the ball, tracking down every pass thrown his way in the Combine drills. He can track the ball almost like a wide receiver, meaning he knows how to time his pass break ups to disrupt the catch. During the PAC-12 Championship game against Utah he made the game winning pick-6, off what is obviously a lucky bounce but still an impressive play to adjust to the ball popping back up right away. His natural ability to locate the football will lead to a number of interceptions for the Texans.
Not only did he get the game’s only touchdown (10-3 UW victory), but he also made the game winning pass breakup on the Utes’ last drive. His timing is perfect, meeting the receiver at the exact instant to break up the play without getting a PI call against him.
Murphy is a fantastic player, but then again so is Greedy Williams who is still on the board as I make this pick. So why Byron? This comes down to just who is the better fit for Houston right now. Firstly, he is very similar to current starting cornerback Aaron Colvin, Houston’s most expensive free agency acquisition in 2018. That shows that the team is not afraid of cornerbacks who don’t necessarily have a size advantage over receivers.
Here is a sample of Aaron Colvin’s draft profile from Bleacher Report in 2014:
- Excels in off-man coverage.
- Reads the quarterback’s eyes well, rarely allowing the quarterback to direct him away from the target.
- Above average foot speed and clean backpedal show there is an ability to improve.
- Has good spacing technique that can trick a quarterback to think that the receiver is more open than they actually are. Colvin knows his own recovery ability, then gets into a position to defense the pass.
That last one sounds a lot like Murphy’s game winning PBU against Utah, right?
- Doesn’t have elite top end speed, and is vulnerable to losing ground on deep routes when lined up in press coverage.
And now Byron Murphy’s profile on The Draft Network:
- Instinctual, aware and active in zone coverage. Processes routes well and flawlessly passes off to the next zone when necessary.
- Proper spacing and patience necessary to be effective in multiple zone coverages.
- Murphy has smooth, natural athleticism with body control. He’s a flexible, agile mover with above average explosiveness for the position.
- Wouldn’t qualify him as a true burner in a straight line
These very similar traits show why the Texans would love to draft Murphy. If their roster demonstrated a clear preference for taller, speedster corners then no doubt Greedy fits that bill. But Colvin is proof that the Texans value agility and instincts as much as height and size. And that’s where Murphy is the top corner in this class.
Secondly, as good as Greedy is, he plays a more aggressive style that does help him compete with top WRs but also comes with more boom-or-bust playmaking. He is sometimes inconsistent in tackles, and isn’t as good a run defender. Every prospect has their ups and downs, but in this case Houston is going to be looking for a more stable force in a secondary that would be featuring at least 3 new starters come September. Five years from now, I have no idea who the better player will be. Nobody does. Both players have remarkable upside but some limiting weaknesses. But I do believe that Murphy will be a stronger day 1 contributor while Greedy works out some kinks in his game. That’s why I think he’s the right pick for the Texans, a team looking for those final pieces in order to be a legitimate contender this season. While in a perfect world the Texans end up with either Dillard or Ford falling to 23, with the options I had I am confident in this choice.
Do you approve of this pick?
This poll is closed
2019 BGN Mock Draft Order
1) Cardinals (Philliesandthebees): Kyler Murray
2) 49ers (SakPrescott): Nick Bosa
3) Jets (thealien2696): Quinnen Williams
4) Raiders (SisyphusNoMore): Josh Allen
5) Buccaneers (EAGLESBSU): Montez Sweat
6) Giants (ablesser88): Dwayne Haskins
7) Jaguars (20Safety_Hazards): Jawaan Taylor
8) Lions (89Tremaine): Ed Oliver
9) Bills (drc242): Jonah Williams
10) Broncos (ItownBallers22): Devin White
11) Bengals (Phoenix X Maximus): Cody Ford
12) Packers (Palaniappan K M): Brian Burns
13) Dolphins (wildcatlh): Andre Dillard
14) Falcons (Happy24): Rashan Gary
15) Washington (roberticus01): D.K. Metcalf
16) Panthers (JALupowitz): Clelin Ferrell
17) Giants (KevinDont): Devin Bush
19) Titans (Big Schmoopie): Christian Wilkins
20) Steelers (J. Wil): T.J. Hockenson
21) Seahawks (NickfoleonDynamite): Chauncey Gardner-Johnson
22) Ravens (GMinTraining): N’Keal Harry
23) Texans (EaglesRock94): Byron Murphy
24) Raiders (SummersInVA):
25) Eagles (I Need a Username):
26) Colts (Nolo0oo):
27) Raiders (SLC Eagle):
28) Chargers (LBCeaglesFan!):
29) Chiefs (Boxer Madness):
30) Packers (Kephas):
31) Rams (Matthieuck):
32) Patriots (Zett_66):
Now it’s time for you to vote for who YOU think the Texans should pick in the 2019 BGN Community Consensus Mock Draft.
Who should the Texans select at No. 23 overall?
This poll is closed
2019 BGN Community Consensus Mock Draft
1) Cardinals: Kyler Murray
2) 49ers: Nick Bosa
3) Jets: Quinnen Williams
4) Raiders: Josh Allen
5) Buccaneers: Montez Sweat
6) Giants: Dwayne Haskins
7) Jaguars: Jawaan Taylor
8) Lions: Ed Oliver
9) Bills: Jonah Williams
10) Broncos: Devin White
11) Bengals: Devin Bush
12) Packers: T.J. Hockenson
13) Dolphins: Andre Dillard
14) Falcons: Rashan Gary
15) Washington: Drew Lock
16) Panthers: Clelin Ferrell
17) Giants: Brian Burns
18) Vikings: Noah Fant
19) Titans: Christian Wilkins
20) Steelers: D.K. Metcalf
21) Seahawks: Chauncey Gardner-Johnson
22) Ravens: N’Keal Harry