The Los Angeles Chargers made the move of the draft on Thursday night, trading back up into the first for Oklahoma linebacker Kenneth Murray.
The Los Angeles Chargers gave up their 2020 second and third-round picks to move up 14 spots from 37 overall to 23 overall. Oklahoma linebacker Kenneth Murray was the target.
Some have been confused about what Murray brings to the table, while others question if linebacker should’ve been the pick at all.
To clear things up, we’ll take a look at Murray and see where his true value lies.
Kenneth Murray offers the Chargers athleticism and size, something the team has lacked at the linebacker position over the years. At 6-3, 241 lbs, Murray is a naturally big player. From a physical standpoint, Murray is a freak, running a 4.52 at the NFL combine and consistently showing explosiveness on the field.
From a mental standpoint, you’re getting a hard worker. Murray reportedly blew the Chargers away during the interviews portion of the combine, and it’s easy to see why and how. Murray has often been referred to as one of the nicest people out there. When you read stories like this, of Murray using his NFL journey to help children with special needs, you start to understand.
There is also the story of Kenneth Murray saving a woman’s life and then proceeding to keep it to himself. His father didn’t even learn that his son had saved a woman’s life until a couple weeks later. “He’s not a big credit person. He’s not looking for any glory or anything of that nature.” Murray Sr. had told the Daily. The Chargers are getting not only a great linebacker, but an amazing person. I’ll root for this man no matter what.
Now to football. What does Murray bring to the Los Angeles Chargers that they can utilize immediately? There are questions about his coverage ability, and he is indeed in need of development in that area, but what does he bring now? Versatility, athleticism, and the first linebacker the team has had in a long time that will impact the run game in a big way.
Kenneth Murray is out here on a mission – that is serious LB speed pic.twitter.com/ycvWiUohnN
— Connor Rogers (@ConnorJRogers) September 2, 2019
Think back to 2019. Pittsburgh, week six, Benny Snell Jr. and James Conner combined for 116 yards on the ground, picking up a first down every opportunity they were given. James Conner added seven receptions for 78 yards through the air. Think back to how frustrating this game was. Who would be responsible for those two players in 2020? Kenneth Murray.
Think back to October sixth, when the Chargers played the Denver Broncos, and Philip Lindsay paired up with Royce Freeman to run for 175 yards. Lindsay ran for 7.6 yards a carry, Freeman ran for 4.7 yards a carry.
Another extremely frustrating game and the Chargers could do nothing to stop it. So frustrating, yet, some may still want Queen instead of Murray because of what he offers as a coverage linebacker. Moving on to another tough game.
This tackle by Kenneth Murray is one of my favorite plays of 2019.
And a proper breakdown tackle, didn’t use momentum but lowered pads, snapped hips, drove legs on contact.
Beautiful stuff. Textbook stick!! pic.twitter.com/h2PyAHD8J7
— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) October 5, 2019
The Los Angeles Chargers walked into Foxborough against the New England Patriots on January 13th, 2019. Sony Michel ran for 129 yards at 5.4 yards a carry and three touchdowns. The Chargers had no answer, they couldn’t stop it.
Play action then became the team’s worst enemy throughout the game, and Julian Edelman and James White had their way with the team. James White recorded 97 yards on 15 receptions. Who would be responsible for James White and Sony Michel? Kenneth Murray.
#Oklahoma LB Kenneth Murray (6-foot-2, 235) —
The pursuit speed jumps on film. Range to the ball from the 2nd level + some edge rush ability. Three-down traits. Would expect a 40 time at 4.4/4.5 here in Indy. @NFLMatchup pic.twitter.com/LZ7JBaT06f
— Matt Bowen (@MattBowen41) February 26, 2020
Murray has need for some development as a pass coverage backer, but he can do it. He has shown flashes. We’re focusing on what he can bring now though. What Kenneth Murray brings to the Los Angeles Chargers right now, is a cure to the Chargers’ snake bite that is defending the run. When you struggle to defend the run as long as the Chargers have, at some point you need to fix it, and they have.
What else does Murray bring? An extra pass rusher. You stack up Nwosu on the Edge, Ingram at 3-tech, Bosa on the other side, and then add Murray as a blitzing Mike? There is maybe no linebacker in this class that will explode through the offensive line, all the way to the Quarterback, as fast and powerful as Murray does. You want to put Murray on the Edge? He can do that too. I’ll tell you what he also brings, is closing speed. No matter who has the ball, Murray will get there quick.
Now, before I end this, imagine for just a moment, the Chargers walking onto the field in a Big Nickel package, and Derwin James and Kenneth Murray lining up together on the second level of the defense. Imagine the Chargers meeting the Ravens in the playoffs, and having Derwin James and Kenneth Murray lined up across from Lamar Jackson just waiting for him to take off. I’m going to sleep better before a game like that.
Whether you agree with the player choice or not, the Los Angeles Chargers have gotten a good one. A good player, a good run stopper, a good person. That’s the kind of player I want in the Chargers’ locker room, and that’s a jersey I’ll buy.