Is former Stanford All-American Trent Murphy a defensive end or an outside linebacker? That’s the question many that predict the draft have stated about the 6-foot-5, 250-pound Murphy. It’s a question any team interested in drafting Murphy this year has to consider as well.
What everyone knows about Murphy is that he’s been an extremely productive three-year starter at one of the country’s elite football factories. Some say Murphy’s stats, like his nation-leading 15 sacks last season, are a product of being surrounded by so many talented players at Stanford. Others will say his relentless motor and hard-nosed attitude are as much a factor in his college success as any. Whether Murphy capitalized on the skill of his teammates or used his natural gifts, what he’s done in college has warranted him a long look by NFL teams and he’ll most likely be selected in the second round of this year’s draft.
Prior to his 15-sack redshirt senior season, Murphy had 10 sacks in 2012 and 6.5 as a first-time starter in 2011. Murphy’s dominant senior season included 23.5 tackles for loss and ended with numerous honors and awards in addition to his consensus First-Team All-American status. But in the NFL, what you project to be in the future is just as important as what you’ve already done and that’s the issue for Murphy.
At Stanford, Murphy was an outside linebacker in the Cardinal’s 3-4 scheme. He excelled at what he was asked to do, but his week at the Senior Bowl, working first as a defensive end and then an OLB under NFL coaches, raised some questions about where he would play at the next level. The scouting report on Murphy says he might not be athletic enough to cover tight ends in pass coverage in the NFL. It also says he’s better at moving forward than backwards or laterally.
The most likely scenario for Murphy is a move to defensive end where his instincts to seek the quarterback and his size can best be used. Murphy said recently his best opportunity in the NFL will most likely be at end. He’s got room to grow and a team that can select Murphy and stay patient with him as he learns the position and develops will most likely end up with a quality player. Some scouts liken him to Jared Allen, who entered the NFL with similar things to prove.
The one thing no team will have to worry about with Murphy is his attitude. The Allen comparisons don’t leave when discussing Murphy’s approach to football. Allen’s competitive spirit is very much alive in Murphy and Stanford head coach David Shaw said the player nicknamed “Yeti” was “the nastiest guy on the team, and it’s not even close.”
Frequently described as “country strong,” an ode to his upbringing on an Arizona farm and the influence of his father, whose motto was “No work, no eat,” Murphy is said to have wrestled a 400-pound steer calf and at 14, skinned a rattlesnake. All of this personality comes across in Murphy’s play on the field. He’s tough, never gives up and will always try to outwork his opponent.
Murphy’s position in the NFL may be an unknown at this point, but the team that drafts him will get a player they know will play wherever they ask and do it with gusto.