The LA Chargers pulled off an ambitious trade with the Patriots to get back in the first round and picked Kenneth Murray. How does the pick grade?
The LA Chargers got back in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft out of nowhere, as they traded for the New England Patriots’ 23rd overall pick. The compensation was the Chargers’ second and third-round picks, a small price to pay for a big jump in draft position.
The Chargers had options at the 23rd pick, with great players available at different positions of need like linebacker, cornerback and offensive tackle. The pick ended up being Kenneth Murray, inside linebacker from Oklahoma.
The move can be immediately classified as a mastermind from Chargers general manager Tom Telesco, as he secured one of the best players in the draft without giving up much in the process.
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Murray will bolster a linebacker group that had Drue Tranquill, Denzel Perryman and Uchenna Nwosu slated to be starters. With only Kyzir White, Nick Vigil, Emeke Egbule and Malik Jefferson on the roster, Murray plugs one of the biggest holes in the roster.
Murray brings a lot of things to the table. Telesco has selected a lot of uber-athletic linebackers recently, and Murray is no exception. He ran a 4.52 seconds 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, along with a 38-inch vertical jump and a 129-inch broad jump.
Murray is the definition of a sideline-to-sideline linebacker, who is also a great tackler and tends to make plays on the ball. He will be a great asset in the LA Chargers’ run defense, and will also contribute against the pass, as he is a great blitzer. He can shoot up gaps to get sacks and tackles for loss.
He will need to work on his coverage abilities, as he does look uncomfortable on zone coverage, but his upside is tremendous in a defense like the Chargers’.
He profiles best as a strong-side linebacker for the Chargers’ 4-3 scheme, and while he could be a starter in his rookie year, he probably needs to improve in his coverage drops to be a full-time starter.
Murray earned individual accolades during his time at Oklahoma. He was named co-Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year in 2017, as well as being a Freshman All-American. He was also second-team All-Big 12 as a sophomore and third-team All-American as a junior.
Trying to grade the pick, it was hard to resist the recency bias, as I was still thrilled by Telesco’s bold move. However, the price wasn’t too high, the value at the pick was great and the upside is huge. Murray can become one more star in a Chargers’ defense that is full of them.