In the midst of the Senior Bowl, the Minnesota Vikings are keeping tabs on a bunch of names, but they reportedly have interest in one player in particular. Surprisingly enough, the player in question is not a quarterback.
Tony Pauline — an NFL Draft Analyst and editor for Sportskeeda, recently reported that the Vikings are said to be “very interested” in Byron Murphy II. Not to be confused with Byron Murphy Jr. who is one of the Vikings starting cornerbacks, Byron Murphy II is one of the top defensive tackles in this year’s draft class. Granted, Byron Murphy II was a finalist for the top defensive back in high school football with 7 interceptions, so maybe Byron Murphy Jr. should start worrying about his job security!
Jokes aside, Murphy II was a member of the Texas Longhorns who played in 39 games with 16 starts throughout his three year collegiate career. In his junior season in 2023 Murphy II was named second-team All-American by the Associated Press, and was also named the 2023 Big 12 Defensive Lineman of the Year. This season, Murphy posted a career-best 5 sacks and 29 total tackles, with 8.5 those being tackles for loss.
Muscular ball of explosiveness with the tools and talent to become a productive three-down defender in the right scheme. Twitchy first-step quickness combined with flexion and power in his lower half create a recipe for disruption as a gap shooter or as a pass rusher. Murphy is powerful and well-schooled at taking on double-teams but lacks ideal mass and length for that role long-term. He’s successful at bypassing protection with sudden hands and quick feet, while his motor and passion create an activity level coaches will love. Forget the average physical traits and modest production and focus on his competitive spirit and disruptive qualities. Murphy is ascending and could become a successful nose tackle or 3-technique in an even front.
That’s probably not the biggest ringing endorsement a player could receive, but scouts tend to disagree on a lot of different things and value certain traits above others. It’s possible that Lance isn’t a big fan of interior defensive linemen who aren’t insanely big and athletic, which is understandable.
Yet, the Vikings have had great luck drafting undersized players who are highly energetic. John Randle was an undersized defensive tackle who went undrafted and ended up becoming one of the greatest Vikings players of all-time. Under Mike Zimmer, Minnesota found a stud linebacker in the 2nd round when they selected Eric Kendricks, who fell down draft boards because of his size. Heck, even this year the Vikings picked up Ivan Pace Jr. as an undrafted free agent and he ended up being arguably the best rookie linebacker in the NFL.
The moral of the story is, don’t be quick to underestimate good football players because their measureables aren’t significantly above average. On an unrelated note, the Vikings won 13 games when they had the only two players in the league with the name “Dalvin”. Maybe they can recreate that same magic and reach 13 wins by having both Byron Murphy II and Byron Murphy Jr.