The Washington Redskins selected Trent Murphy in the second round (pick no. 47) to kick off the six-player Stanford flurry of the 2014 NFL Draft. As The Bootleg goes through the entire list of Cardinal players looking to make their mark on the next level, here is a take on Murphy's potential fit with his new team and a look back at No. 93's Cardinal career.
Murphy's college career can be considered an excellent embodiment of the player development program that has turned Stanford into one of the nation's elite powers. He came to The Farm listed at only 222 pounds, but added about 40 pounds of functional strength during his time under Shannon Turley. The key word there is functional: Murphy physically developed into the Swiss Army knife of the Cardinal front seven. Defensive coordinator Derek Mason often called Murphy his "Joker" as he raved about how he could line the imposing outside linebacker into a multitude of different spots in the front seven.
Murphy's versatility is apparent in a quick look back at his college highlights. Aside from being the active FBS sack leader (32.5 total) throughout his final year on The Farm, he showcased an awesome ability to sniff out short passes and suffocate passing lanes with his excellent instincts and rangy arms. Yes, violent sacks populate Murphy's video (who can forget how he turned Matt Barkley into a rag doll?), but perhaps his most famous plays came in successive years at Seattle's CenturyLink Field, when he returned two interceptions for touchdowns.
Murphy's biggest sacks included the aforementioned takedown of Barkley (it forced a fumble) and one of UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley that helped seal Stanford's 2013 victory over the Bruins. He also made significant progress developing his ability to pursue speedy opponents in space, and that much was clear when he tracked Oregon's Marcus Mariota and forced him out of bounds during a critical 2012 moment at Autzen Stadium.
Speaking of versatility, who can forget Murphy's spectacular Dwight Clark impersonation during the Rose Bowl against Michigan State? After a botched field goal snap, he saved the aborted play by getting open and soaring high into the air to haul in punter/holder Ben Rhyne's floating pass. Stanford was penalized on the play, but Murphy's contribution still gave the Cardinal another shot at the field goal, and it was one final reminder of just how versatile he was.
How He'll Fit in Washington
Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett is a fan of aggressive blitz schemes, and Washington will certainly look to utilize Murphy's skills as a pass rusher off the edge within the defensive system. The Redskins already have a pair of very talented outside linebackers in Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan, but Orakpo may not be around much longer (he will play 2014 under the franchise tag) and Murphy's "hybrid" versatility may allow him to simultaneously see the field with those stars beyond his expected role as a pass rush specialist.
There's already been much talk of Murphy's ability to shift to defensive end in nickel packages. He certainly has seen plenty of success out of the three-point stance: Mason even lined Murphy up over center at one point last season against Arizona State, and his subsequent interior rush pressured Taylor Kelly into Josh Mauro's tone-setting interception.
Some have speculated that Haslett may want to convert Murphy into a full-time defensive end. Such a shift would likely require him to add more bulk to his frame. A quick look at Murphy's father demonstrates that doing so shouldn't be a problem. At the end of the day, the book on no. 93 is simple: He showed a tremendous amount of versatility at Stanford, and it's this versatility that should allow him to deftly adapt to the NFL's demands.
And there shouldn't be any doubts pertaining to Murphy's strength, especially from those who have had the chance to shake his hand (brace yourself, or he'll break yours). Washington executives have certainly gotten the chance to feel the definition of "country strong" themselves, and unfamiliar NFL opponents will also soon be introduced to it.
David Lombardi is the Stanford Insider for The Bootleg. Check him out at www.davidlombardisports.com and follow him on Twitter @DavidMLombardi.
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