3. Byron Murphy – CB
Cornerbacks may not carry the same star potential like they used to ten years ago, but, behind edge rushers, they hold their spot along the top of defensive stardom charts (relatively speaking). Just ask Patrick Peterson, a man who hasn’t missed the Pro-Bowl once in his NFL career.
Before the draft, Murphy wasn’t the consensus No. 1 cornerback, but he was mighty close to it. The Cardinals lucked into Murphy at No. 33 overall, and people continue to wonder how he got there. Standing at 5-foot-11 and 190 pounds with a 4.55 second 40-yard-dash in the books, Murphy isn’t a physical specimen, but he’s a ball-hawk with excellent football IQ, awareness, and burst.
Murphy’s game translated well to analytics. Pro Football Focus ranked him as their No. 6 draft-eligible player as he had a 92.0 2018 grade that consists of a coverage grade of 92.1 and run defense grade of 86.7; both elite metrics. In his 20 career college games, Murphy had six interceptions, 11 pass deflections, and allowed a 54.1 passer rating, per PFF.
Murphy projects as a star due to his ball-hawking, physical brand of play, and entering a defense that should play a fair amount of zone. Though Murphy is likely to start the season as a slot defender, he could see himself guarding the second option by seasons end — if Robert Alford doesn’t live up to expectations. If all goes right for Murphy, his style of play and star status could be similar to Bears’ All-Pro cornerback Kyle Fuller.