Clemson defensive lineman Myles Murphy has become a polarizing player in this year’s NFL Draft class. While just about every outlet views him as a first-round talent, where he ranks on big boards varies. For example, Murphy is listed as the 22nd player overall for Pro Football Focus and third for Bleacher Report.
Regardless of where he’s drafted, there’s no doubt that the Tiger could give the Las Vegas Raiders’ defensive line a big boost.
Over the last two years at Clemson, Murphy racked up 76 pressures and 14.5 sacks all while playing as a standup outside linebacker, defensive end and even taking a few reps on the inside at defensive tackle. He also recorded 24 defensive stops against the run during that timeframe and was PFF’s second-highest graded run defender (84.1) among ACC edges in 2022.
While the numbers help paint the picture, the film really tells the Clemson product’s story and helps to show how athletic he is at nearly 270 pounds.
An ex of how Myles Murphy’s athletic ability can make him dangerous in line games pic.twitter.com/aSKwuc9bdg— Matt Holder (@MHolder95) March 31, 2023
We’ll start with a clip from the 2021 season to highlight Murphy’s athleticism. Clemson is running a line game where the nose tackle (No. 11) and the other defensive end (No. 3) slant while Murphy wraps around as the looper.
He starts by taking a jab step up the field to help sell the vertical rush and then transitions to looping around his teammates. Watch his path and how not only does he avoid losing ground while working laterally but he also gains ground vertically. That puts pressure on the right guard (No. 50) as the guard will have less time to react and that type of movement skill for a defensive lineman is rare.
Murphy’s athleticism allows him to take as efficient of a path to the quarterback as possible, and his closing speed helps him get an easy sack. Make no mistake about it though, you won’t find many 270-pound guys who can move like this.
Myles Murphy does a perfect job of setting the edge and getting off the block pic.twitter.com/DhNMm2OgEn— Matt Holder (@MHolder95) March 31, 2023
Consider these first two clips the “yin and yang of Myles Murphy”.
He’s lined up as an REO—right defensive end and completely outside shade of the tackle—as Georgia runs outside zone to his side. At the point of contact, he gets his hands inside the offensive tackle’s and right on the tackle’s chest to gain control of the block.
The Tiger has the strength to get extension to set the edge and adds a little cherry on top by immediately shedding the block to be in a position to make the play. That forces the running back to cut upfield and with complete dominance on the play by Clemson, it ends up being a gang tackle for loss.
Myles Murphy closes the gap with the man and makes the play outside of his gap pic.twitter.com/qSHJNMBHtp— Matt Holder (@MHolder95) March 31, 2023
Here we’re going to see an example of how Murphy can combine his athleticism and strength to be a good run defender.
He’s lined up over the C-gap (outside of the left tackle) but will slant into the B-gap (between the tackle and left guard) post-snap. That’s where his quickness comes into play as he’s able to beat the offensive lineman across the lineman’s face a fulfill his gap responsibility.
Also, take a look at his pad level and power at the point of attack to get a leverage advantage and reset the line of scrimmage. That causes the tackle to be off-balance and Murphy is able to use his outside arm to “close the gap with the man” and put himself in a position to get involved in the play outside of his gap.
Love how Myles Murphy keeps his feet moving through contact pic.twitter.com/TVUcRsmjcH— Matt Holder (@MHolder95) March 31, 2023
This is another example of Murphy’s strength and quickness combination.
He starts lined up in a 4i-technique at the bottom of the screen or in the B-gap, and slants into the A-gap. Take a look at what his quickness off the snap does to the guard’s angle. The guard starts working wide on his pass set but Murphy moves so quickly that the lineman has to redirect and can’t get a clean hit on Murphy.
From there, we see the Clemson product’s ability to absorb and keep his feet moving through contact to go join the sack party in the backfield. The ability to win as a pass-rusher from multiple alignments is something Patrick Graham will love and would allow Murphy to be on the field at the same time as Maxx Crosby and Chandler Jones.
Myles Murphy with a beautiful block shed pic.twitter.com/KjfFd7T7vg— Matt Holder (@MHolder95) March 31, 2023
Our next clip isn’t as sexy as the others but I wanted to include it to show off Murphy’s ability to get off blocks.
He’s lined up as a 3-technique over the guard against Wake Forest’s slow mesh, inside zone concept. Notice how he shoots his hands straight up from the ground and that allows him to make the first significant contact with the offensive lineman and gain control of the block.
Murphy’s hand placement is close to perfect again and all of this, combined with some strength and violence, allows him to shed the block and toss the guard on the ground. The result isn’t as pretty as Wake still gets the first down, but these are the types of reps that will lead to big plays for defensive linemen later in the game.
You know it’s a good one-arm stab move when the OT goes ass over teakettle. Well done, Myles Murphy pic.twitter.com/YVAguyj3hQ— Matt Holder (@MHolder95) March 31, 2023
We’ll start to wrap up here with a dominant rep as a pass-rusher.
Murphy is playing a wide technique as the REO to force the tackle to work for width in his pass set. Post-snap, Murphy uses his 33.75-inch arms to perfectly execute a one-arm stab move. You know it’s a good move when the offensive tackle falls on his butt and ends up doing a summersault on the ground.
We also get a glimpse of the Tiger’s bend at the top of the rush. Watch how he transitions from going up the field to flat down the 40-yard line. That’s another example of how he can take an efficient path to the quarterback, which will lead to sacks down the road.
While we saw examples of Muphy keeping his feet moving through contact as a pass-rusher, that doesn’t seem to translate against the run. That tendency, plus the fact he doesn’t have good knee bend when he isn’t slanting, can cause him to concede ground against the run, which could be a bigger issue at the next level.
When working finesse moves, the Clemson product struggles with the accuracy of his initial chops to knock the offensive lineman’s hands down. That limits his pass-rush arsenal which is frustrating given how much athletic potential he has.
However, a lot of Murphy’s issues are fixable, and his combination of size, strength and athleticism is worth betting on. I think there’s a good chance he’ll be the best defensive player available with the seventh overall pick, in my opinion.