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
– 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
– 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
– 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
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,