Arizona Cardinals rookie film room: 5 plays that define Byron Murphy

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BERKELEY, CA - OCTOBER 27: Byron Murphy #1 of the Washington Huskies looks on between plays against the California Golden Bears at California Memorial Stadium on October 27, 2018 in Berkeley, California. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
BERKELEY, CA - OCTOBER 27: Byron Murphy #1 of the Washington Huskies looks on between plays against the California Golden Bears at California Memorial Stadium on October 27, 2018 in Berkeley, California. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images) /
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Play 1: @ Oregon, 2nd quarter, 1:26 remaining, 2nd & 8

What the offense is running: Vertical pass, Z-receiver is running a go with the tight end running an out.

What the defense is running: Cover 1 with a robber, man coverage.

What Murphy is tasked to do: Man-cover recently drafted Dillon Mitchell.

What happens: Mitchell initially wins on the release versus a pressing Murphy and gains inside leverage. Murphy fails to recover, as he flips his hips outside, in turn, letting Mitchell run the deep route inside. This doesn’t come as a surprise as the cornerback struggles against bigger, faster receivers, two traits Mitchell possesses.

However, Murphy does just enough with his heavy hands to stay within arms-length of the wide receiver.  He uses his arms to legally restrict Mitchell’s path to the ball, which in turn, forces the quarterback to modify his pass. Herbert then doesn’t throw his best football, and Murphy takes advantage by showing off his ball skills.

Murphy’s ability to finish this play in the fashion in which he did is quite impressive, but not something out of the realm of possibility for the cornerback. He doesn’t have the long-speed, which is shown here, but he’s a twitchy athlete with excellent burst and short area quickness. His body control in air is impressive here, as, ultimately, the ball is played correctly.

Takeaways:

  • Murphy is known as an accomplished press-man coverage cornerback due to his physicality, heavy hands, loose hips, quickness, and burst. But, don’t expect that to translate over to the NFL immediately. His footwork is all over the place, causing him to bail via flipping his hips prematurely. If this clip shows anything, he’ll struggle against bigger, faster, quicker outside receivers at the next level.
  • You got to love his hand usage. He’s got heavy hands that can dissuade wide receivers’ courses, and he knows how to use him. The physicality is there, but the grabbing isn’t.
  • That burst helps him make up for losses in man coverage, and it’s a real asset in zone coverage as well. At the combine, he recorded a 36.5-inch vertical and a 120-inch broad jump; both impressive numbers.
  • You’d like to see him improve his back-pedal.
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