Next up for evaluations are two of Stanford's tallest prospects in the 2012 class, five-star stud offensive tackle Kyle Murphy and four-star defensive end Luke Kaumatule. With Stanford's recent recruiting as evidence, it is apparent that the staff puts a premium value on height on the edges of both the defensive and offensive lines, including tight ends. But high elevation is not the end of the story for these two prospects. Both Murphy and Kaumatule bring impressive athleticism and strength along with that towering presence, the combination of which has lead to both of them being very highly touted prospects.
Kyle Murphy OT 6'7" 275 lbs. (San Clemente High School, San Clemente, CA)
Scout Ratings – 5*, #5 OT
Rivals Ratings – 5*, 6.1/6.1, #5 OT, #22 Prospect Nationally, #3 Prospect in California
ESPN Ratings – 4*, 83/100, #5 OT, #4 Regional Prospect, #3 Prospect in California
Rating the Ratings
Kyle Murphy is obviously an elite prospect, and the ratings definitely reflect that fact. Being the consensus #3 prospect in the talent-rich state of California is an extremely impressive distinction. His rankings suggest that he should be a five-star prospect across the board, but ESPN's system says otherwise. That minor slight does not reveal any vast discrepancies in Murphy's ratings, however. Each service has been very consistent in their respective evaluations of this blue-chip prospect.
Murphy is a long, lean athlete who moves very well and can maintain a remarkably low pad level despite his well above-average height. Although he currently has the body of a tall tight end, the low pad-level and his surprising strength at the point of attack make him a devastating run-blocker. There is a lot of video available on Murphy, and in every clip he fires out low on run plays, locks onto his man with great hand placement and drives the opponent out of the play. What also stands out is how Murphy finishes his blocks. He shows flashes of nastiness throughout his videos when he not only takes a defender out of a play, but plays through the whistle and ends the play with a pancake. Those pancakes are made possible by how he uses his strength and athleticism to keep defenders within his frame whether he is firing out at a defensive lineman or seeking out a linebacker or defensive back on the second level. That aspect of his game – being able to move with and control defenders – is most impressive as he manages to bulldoze defenders regardless of his attack angle or the type of block he is executing. His agility also allows for him to pull effectively which is a bonus for a player with prototypical offensive tackle height.
Although he will need more college coaching to refine his pass protection technique and be an elite offensive tackle on the college level, Kyle Murphy possesses the tools to be a great pass-blocker. The same athleticism that allows him to dominate when run blocking may allow him to become an even better pass-protector. He already has the height, arm length and the ability to react quickly and adjust to defenders' movements. Once Murphy is more consistent in his technique against outside pass rushers he can be a dominant player in both phases of the game.
Kyle Murphy is about 30 pounds and a few technique tweaks from being an impact player on the college level. If he were to end up at Stanford, he will likely need a redshirt year and some game experience to bridge that gap. Given his consistently low pad level and pulling ability, he has the physical ability to play guard even at 6'7". But I doubt any staff would be tempted to use such a great tackle prospect on the inside. In college he will be an offensive tackle and a very productive one, barring injury. Ultimately, his career path could end up being similar to that of current Cardinal offensive tackles Jonathan Martin and Cameron Fleming who both made big splashes after a redshirt year.
Luke Kaumatule 6'7" 268 lbs. (Punahou High School, Honolulu, HI)
Scout Ratings – 4*, #34 DE
Rivals Ratings – 4*, 5.8/6.1, #16 DE (Strong Side), No Ranking Nationally, #1 Hawaii
ESPN Ratings – 3*, 79/100, #39 DE, #57 Regional Prospect, #1 Prospect in Hawaii, No Ranking Nationally
Rating the Ratings
Kaumatule's ratings appear pretty fair across the board. The height, size and athleticism justify his four-star ratings from Scout and Rivals. He was injured early in his senior year which could have led to a downgrade, but that does not seem to have happened in this case. Although ESPN rates him as a three- star, his numerical rating of 79/100 is equal with other prospects who are rated as four-star caliber on ESPN. There are no large discrepancies of note with respect to the scouting services' views of Kaumatule.
Luke Kaumatule is a long, athletic defensive end who, like many of Stanford's other tall prospects, has the ability to play with a lower pad level than his height would suggest. Kaumatule's video shows him using that pad level to his advantage while also using his speed and agility to maneuver around pass protectors and run blockers. When rushing the passer, he shows the ability to turn his shoulders to get around offensive tackles and shorten his route to the quarterback. He also brings out a spin move occasionally, which could be more effective once it is perfected, but nevertheless exemplifies his athleticism.
Against the run, Kaumatule uses his long arms to keep offensive linemen away from his body and allow him to disengage when they attack him high. However, he will need to learn to protect his long legs from cut blocks to keep him in plays and prevent injury. His arms also help him to hold his ground against the run which will be a critical skill for him if he ends up as a 3-4 defensive end. Once he clears offensive linemen, Kaumatule's video shows that he has a very good ability to break down and re-direct. He will need to work on finishing of plays, however. That entails being more consistent with wrapping ball carriers up and staying in control while in pursuit to avoid overrunning the ball carrier. Fortunately, those issues are among the few that can be rather easily cured once he arrives on a college campus.
Kaumatule's career path initially will probably be similar to that of current Stanford defensive end Charlie Hopkins. There are many parallels between them. They are both long defensive ends who had similar ratings (Hopkins was a 4* on Scout and Rivals before his injury) and unfortunate knee injuries during their respective senior seasons. Both possess great athleticism and agility for their body type. Much like Hopkins is expected to do next year, Kaumatule should be poised to make his big move at the outset of his third year. Like most other non-offensive tackle prospects who are 6'6" and over, the Hawaii prospect will need time to fill out before he is ready to handle college offensive linemen and the dangers posed to his long legs. After that third year, Kaumatule's ceiling may be even a little bit higher than Hopkins' based on the variety of pass rush moves shown in his available video.
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