2017 NFL Draft Player Profiles: Kent St CB Najee Murray

From now until the 2017 NFL Draft takes place, we hope to showcase as many prospects as possible and examine both their strengths and weaknesses. Most of these profiles will feature individuals that the Pittsburgh Steelers are likely to have an interest in, while a few others will be top-ranked players. If there is a player you would like us to analyze, let us know in the comments below.

Najee Murray/CB Kent State – 5’8/5 182

The Good

– Physical prospect who plays bigger than his size
– Wrap up tackler but reliable in the open field and attacks tackles/run support aggressively
– Does well to play his man downfield on vertical throws, stays in-phase
– Good leaper who times his jumps and shows ability to play the pocket, strong hands to finish
– Shows long speed and a quality athlete overall
– Versatile and played all three cornerback spots
– Gives effort in press and shows physicality, functional strength and does nice job to stay square on his jam
– Man and zone experience, used as a blitzer from the slot too
– High effort player who doesn’t loaf, maximizes talent

The Bad

– Clearly undersized and underweight
– Small frame gave him trouble in man coverage against big receivers, coming downhill to play the ball or in press man
– Size will likely demand a permanent move to the slot
– Too often catches in press and needs to clean up his hands
– Testing at Pro Day was good but not spectacular for undersized guy
– Didn’t play against top flight competition
– Statistically underwhelming career
– Some off the field questions to be answered

Bio

– Two year full-time starter
– Career: 103 tackles, 5.5 TFL, 2 INTs, 1 FF
– 2016: 47 tackles, 4 TFL, 2 INTs
– Originally committed to Ohio State, played for Buckeyes in 2012 before suffering knee injury, made three tackles
– Was indefinitely suspended by team for violation of team rules, asked for scholarship release, was granted, and transferred to Kent State, sitting out 2013 season
– Ran track in high school
– Reportedly ran 4.54 at Pro Day, jumped 34 inches in vert, 4.05/6.83 agility drills

Tape Breakdown

Murray, like so many corners, has a Napolean Complex. Short in statue, but certainly plays big. And it’s hard not to like this kid. He’s a good athlete, lined up everywhere, has ball skills, and a willing/competent tackler in the open field.

In 2015, he played on the outside most of the time. That mean he was constantly challenged by tall receivers, to him, every WR is tall, downfield. And he held his own in the red zone and on vertical shots. Good technique, playing the man, not the ball, to break this throw up. Did it twice in this game. I’ll show you one.

And he’s a great tackler, even if he isn’t going to lay the hurt on anyone. Like his demeanor and ability to wrap up in open space. We’ll show his attitude here, taking on this 220+ pound back and bringing him down in the open field.

But he didn’t win every matchup on the outside. Watched him against Toledo’s Alonzo Russell, weighing in at 6’3, 260, and he gave Murray fits. Man coverage here but Russell bumps him off the top of the route and makes the catch.

Being small doesn’t automatically mean you get moved to the inside. Some guys can still hang on the outside. But Murray is smaller than even the typical corner we look at and his tape says he should go inside. Especially with how he tested, with pretty strong shuttle drills. He was playing there in most of the 2016 snaps I watched so there’s no learning curve for him and he does well against the run and is an apt and experienced blitzer.

Yes, he went to a “small school,” though that stuff is sort of a misnomer because he held his own against teams like Alabama. But there was big time talent considering Ohio State wanted him. He’s in late round consideration and someone I think can make an immediate impact on special teams.

I see some Nickell Roby-Coleman in him. Ditto with Jerraud Powers.

Projection: Late Day Three

Games Watched: at Toledo, vs Marshall, vs NC A&T, at Alabama, vs Western Michigan,

Previous 2017 NFL Draft Player Profiles
Deshaun WatsonHaason ReddickMarshon LattimoreCorey ClementTim Williams
Jourdan LewisTakkarist McKinleyBrad KaayaNathan PetermanO.J. Howard
Charles HarrisAlvin KamaraTyus BowserDavid NjokuDeMarcus Walker
Chidobe AwuzieDeShone KizerMarlon MackCameron SuttonZach Cunningham
Corey DavisCarl LawsonPatrick MahomesKareem HuntEvan Engram
Derek RiversRyan AndersonJoshua DobbsJordan LeggettSamaje Perine
Corn ElderBucky HodgesJames ConnerCooper KuppStanley Williams
Fred RossJamaal WilliamsGeorge KittleEjuan PriceChris Wormley
Jeremy McNicholsJoe MathisDerek BarnettAmba Etta-TawoGareon Conley
Taco Charlton Elijah McGuireRyan SwitzerTanoh KpassagnonTre’Davious White
Brian HillMatthew DayesDonnel PumphreyJosh ReynoldsNazair Jones
De’Veon SmithDavis WebbObi MelifonwuTJ WattJohn Ross
Jerod EvansVince BiegelJosh CarrawayJosh MaloneKevin King
Fadol BrownChris GodwinNate GerryJordan WillisStacy Coley
Zay JonesJimmie GilbertGlen AntoineTarell BashamDuke Riley
Rayshawn JenkinsChad KellyTrey HendricksonJeremy SprinkleJoe Williams
D’Onta ForemanCarlos WatkinsDamontae KazeeWayne GallmanWillie Quinn
Xavier WoodsElijah HoodMalik McDowellDesmond KingSolomon Thomas
Cordrea TankersleyRaekwon McMillanJosh Harvey-ClemonsChristian McCaffreyChris Carson
Montravius AdamsAaron JonesMack HollinsDeatrich Wise JrAdoree’ Jackson
JuJu Smith-SchusterJosh JonesDavon GodchauxLorenzo JeromeQuincy Wilson
Stevie Tu’ikolovatuMike WilliamsAhkello WitherspoonDede WestbrookTedric Thompson
Marcus MayeJoe MixonTaywan TaylorTyson FernandezJarrad Davis
Ishmael ZamoraDaeshon HallCJ BeathardKendell BeckwithJalen Reeves-Maybin
Rasul DouglasMarcus WilliamsDevonte FieldsJustin EvansKenny Golladay
Marquez WhiteChad WilliamsCurtis SamuelD.J. JonesSeth Russell
Amara DarbohNoah BrownMalik HookerCarroll PhillipsIsaiah Ford
Marlon HumphreyT.J. LoganJalen MyrickChad HansenEddie Jackson
Budda BakerJahad ThomasFabian MoreauMatt MilanoTashawn Bower
Jason CroomJamal AgnewHoward WilsonShaquill GriffinKeionta Davis
Shock LinwoodShelton GibsonChanning StriblingMontae Nicholson

About the Author

Alex Kozora

Full-time blogger from mom’s basement. Marrying tape and statistics. Chidi Iwuoma is my favorite Steeler of all-time.

  • Brian Tollini

    I watched a few of his games after someone ( I believe Falconsafety) pointed him out to me. Another one of those short corners that’s easy to root for. He plays much bigger, I like him as a late rounder.

  • Andrew

    If we put a 6th or 7th round pick on him, I’d be down for that

  • falconsaftey43

    It was me. He’s my guy! Love him in the late rounds as a slot option.

  • Boots

    I like your point about being short doesn’t automatically mean you can’t play outside! There are some terrible misconceptions about height and the cb position!

  • Steelers12

    true but i wouldn’t mind having some size out there with today’s prototype WRs

  • Boots

    I get that size and speed are two things you can’t teach, but what I’m getting at is that being 6′ tall or not shouldn’t brand you one way or the other. The other thing I have a real problem with is the notion that 5’10” or 5’11” is dwarfed by 6’2″, but 6′ is a good matchup for 6’4″!

  • Matt Manzo

    Great late round prospect!

  • Yvette Murray

    NAJEE IS POWERFUL IN HIS POSITION, AND HE REMINDS ME OF

    Asante T. Samuel AND HE WAS ONLY 5’10. So size don’t matter.