Monday, May 12, 2014

Redskins Make Surprise Draft Choice in Second Round

Washington Redskins general manager Bruce Allen and recently hired head coach Jay Gruden officially completed their first NFL draft together last week.  

So, how did this duo fare with their draft picks? Expert opinions vary, with grades ranging from C to an A. The truth is, there's no reason to grade a team's draft prior to the season. Every year there are the can't-miss players that turn out as busts and the late-round players that surprise everyone with dazzling rookie seasons—Richard Sherman, Alfred Morris, Keenan Allen, to name a few.

Let's focus on who the team felt was top priority on their list.

With their first pick, coming in the second round, Washington decided to trade out of the No. 34 spot—swapping with Dallas' 47th pick. In the process, the Redskins gained another third-round choice.

At No. 47 overall, they chose a player that many fans and analysts considered a reach—Trent Murphy, a linebacker from Stanford.

Murphy, 23, is versatile at the defensive end or outside linebacker positions, much like Ryan Kerrigan and Brian Orakpo.

"I think he's a tough, hard-nosed kid" said former player Charles Davis.

NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock had Murphy rated as the fifth best defensive end in the draft.

Murphy has excellent instincts, toughness, a high motor, and outstanding sack production. He led the NCAA in sacks (15) last year as an outside linebacker. In 2012, he led his team with 10 sacks.

Checking in at 260 pounds, he isn't suited to play the end spot in the 3-4 scheme. The 6-foot-6-inch Murphy is too big to play inside linebacker and is limited in coverage. Kerrigan and Orakpo currently hold the outside linebacker positions. So, where does Murphy fit in exactly?

Gruden addressed this question in a post-draft press conference

"Coach Haslett has a lot of plans for him, but coming in right now, he's going to line up obviously at outside linebacker, back up Ryan [Kerrigan] and Brian [Orakpo] and provide us with some depth at that position. Anybody [who] knows the 3-4 [knows] you need to have depth at linebacker because those guys are working their tail off. They're dropping [into] coverage, they're rushing the passer, so it's very important in this day and age with no huddle that you keep these guys fresh and you're able to filter in guys in and out and make sure you can continue to get after the quarterback."
Insurance may be another reason for adding Murphy to the mix since Orakpo was not happy about being slapped with the franchise tag this offseason. He has made it very clear he would like to stay in Washington on a long-term deal. If the team does not offer him a lucrative contract before the 2015 free agency period begins, he could leave and sign elsewhere for a team that's willing to splurge.

Orakpo could potentially become the highest-paid defensive end in the NFL—or at least one of the highest paid linebackers.

Whether fans believe Murphy was a reach or not, they most likely agree that he is a better choice than Washington selecting Josh LeRibeus with their second pick in the 2012 draft. I'm speaking to you, Mike Shanahan.