Kenneth Murray

Minor NFL Transactions: 10/4/21

We’ll keep track of today’s minor moves here:

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

Carolina Panthers

Indianapolis Colts

Los Angeles Chargers

Minnesota Vikings

Seattle Seahawks

Washington Football Team

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Chargers Sign Justin Herbert, Wrap Draft Class

The Chargers have wrapped up their 2020 NFL Draft class, per a club announcement. Quarterback Justin Herbert was the first reported signing, and the rest of the crop followed soon after. The full rundown, per our tracker:

1-6: Justin Herbert, QB (Oregon): Signed
1-23: Kenneth Murray, LB (Oklahoma): Signed
4-112: Joshua Kelley, RB (UCLA): Signed
5-151: Joe Reed, WR (Virginia): Signed
6-186: Alohi Gilman, S (Notre Dame): Signed
7-220: K.J. Hill, WR (Ohio State): Signed

Herbert was a polarizing prospect. Those that are high on the Oregon product believe that his elite arm strength will allow him to succeed as a starter. Others are concerned about his pension for holding on to the ball for too long. The debate between Herbert and Tua Tagovailoa was fierce, but, ultimately, the Dolphins made the decision for the Chargers by selecting the Alabama star No. 5 overall. At No. 6, GM Tom Telesco said that he would have been perfectly happy with either passer.

Herbert will have the unenviable task of eventually stepping into Philip Rivers’ shoes. For now, the 6’6″ rookie will likely begin the year as the QB2 behind Tyrod Taylor.

Broncos Tried To Trade Back Into Round 1

The Broncos were among the clubs trying to get back into the first round, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (on Twitter) hears. Their target, according to Mike Klis of 9News, was LSU linebacker Patrick Queen.

The Broncos got their wish at No. 15, landing Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy, their top-ranked receiver. Had Jeudy not been available, they would have looked to trade back for either Queen or fellow ‘backer Kenneth Murray. After landing Jeudy, they tried to get back into the first round for Queen – instead, he went to the Ravens.

Elway wasn’t so sure that he’d be able to get Jeudy at No. 15, but he was pleasantly surprised with how everything turned out.

It was probably less than 50 percent,” Elway said. “I think that when you look at it he was there a couple of times. We really kind of worked off our mocks with him not being there, and in the situation he wasn’t there, which direction would we go. It was a lot less than 50 percent and that’s why when he was there, we were thrilled that he was there.”

With four picks on Day 2, the Broncos have plenty of ammo if they want to move up for another linebacker. They could also use that artillery to address remaining needs, including cornerback and center. For now, the Broncos’ Day 2 party starts in the second round at No. 46 overall. After that, they have a trio of third-round picks – Nos. 77, 83, and 95.

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Rapoport’s Latest: Becton, Murray, RBs

Here is the latest on the upcoming virtual draft, courtesy of NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport:

  • D’Andre Swift profiles as many teams’ top-graded running back, and some are viewing the No. 26-32 range as the sector where he could land or even multiple running backs could go (Twitter link). Holding the No. 26 pick, the Dolphins are perhaps the most notable running back-seeking team in that range. They have been the team most closely connected to backs thus far. The Seahawks, Ravens, Titans, Packers, 49ers and Chiefs pick behind them.
  • Oklahoma linebacker Kenneth Murray may be one of the highest-floor players in the draft, with Rapoport noting (via Twitter) no team has come through with a black mark against him. This represents obvious good news after Murray suffered a hamstring injury at the Combine. Before the NFL nixed pre-draft workouts and visits, Murray was scheduled to meet with 15 teams. It’s likely he spoke to many via video chat. Scouts Inc. grades Murray as the draft’s No. 25 prospect.
  • On that note, mammoth tackle Mekhi Becton has generated the most excitement from scouts, per RapSheet. The Louisville blocker goes 6-foot-7, 364 pounds. While his frame reminds of Raiders right tackle Trent Brown, the latter was a fifth-round selection. Becton, who somehow ran a 5.1-second 40-yard dash at that size, may well land in the top 10 and probably has the highest ceiling of all the tackle prospects.
  • A less exciting player, but one that might be a safer pick: Georgia tackle Andrew Thomas. Teams are calling the ex-Bulldogs blocker the most overlooked player who will go the highest, per Rapoport. Thomas could wind up in the top five, with Pro Football Network’s Tony Pauline noting he is the favorite to be the Dolphins’ pick if they surprise most by not going quarterback at No. 5.
  • After the top four tackles go off the board, there figures to be a gap until the next one is picked. Houston tackle Josh Jones may be the player with the highest variance, with teams viewing him anywhere from a first- to a third-round choice, Rapoport adds. Jones grades as Scouts Inc.’s No. 50 overall prospect and seventh-ranked tackle — also behind Boise State’s Ezra Cleveland and USC’s Austin Jackson.
  • Going into what’s viewed as a deep draft at wide receiver, at least one GM views it as a historically deep all-around class. Said GM placed first-round grades on more than 32 prospects for the first time in his tenure, RapSheet notes.

LB Kenneth Murray To Meet With 15 Teams

Kenneth Murray is a popular man. The Oklahoma linebacker told NFL.com’s James Palmer that he’s set to meet with 15 teams in the coming weeks (via Charean Williams of ProFootballTalk.com).

Murray revealed that he’ll start his workout circuit with the Texans on March 18th before having visits “back-to-back-to-back.” The Ravens, Raiders, Cowboys and Cardinals are among the teams that the linebacker is expected to meet with.

After earning a second-team All-Big 12 nod in 2018, Murray got first-team recognition following a standout 2019 campaign. The junior finished the season with 102 tackles, four sacks, and four passes defended.

Murray is in contention to be the second linebacker off the board after Clemson’s Isaiah Simmons, and he could be selected as early as midway through the first round. He didn’t participate in Oklahoma’s pro day today after having tweaked his hamstring during the 40-yard dash at the Combine. Fortunately, he told Palmer that he’s almost back to full health.

“The hamstring is doing good,” Murray told Palmer. “I’ll be fully healthy in a couple of days.”

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Draft Notes: Lawrence, Saints, LBs

Carolina may end up losing Luke Kuechly, Greg Olsen, Trai Turner, Dontari Poe, James Bradberry, Mario Addison and perhaps Cam Newton this offseason. Rebuild vibes are certainly coming out of Panthers headquarters, and many around the league expect this to be the team that times its rebuild/tanks for Trevor Lawrence, Matt Miller of Bleacher Report notes. The Clemson phenom has been on NFL radars pretty much since he debuted as a true freshman in 2018, and the much-hyped quarterback will be eligible for the 2021 draft. The Panthers are already believed to be high on Lawrence and Ohio State’s Justin Fields — passers who could go Nos. 1-2 next year — and have Matt Rhule signed to a seven-year contract. This would add up to a rebuild commencing, which will make Carolina’s decision at No. 7 this year overall more interesting.

Here is the latest from the draft world, shifting first to the Saints:

  • Since Michael Thomas has emerged as an All-Pro talent, the Saints have been unable to generate much consistency from any of his supporting-cast receivers. A “strong campaign” has emerged within the organization to find a complementary wideout to pair with Thomas, Miller adds. Considering the Saints’ cap situation — barely $9MM in space before the latest Drew Brees re-up — said addition would likely come in the early rounds of this loaded receiver draft. Miller’s latest mock has the Saints taking Clemson deep threat Tee Higgins, but a number of wideouts could be in play for New Orleans at No. 24.
  • A shaky Combine showing has defensive end A.J. Epenesa‘s stock declining, Vic Tafur of The Athletic tweets. Some teams have expressed concern about the Iowa product’s showing, which included a 5.04-second 40-yard dash — at 275 pounds — and limited athleticism during the drills. Epenesa declared for the draft after his junior year with the Hawkeyes, and he recorded double-digit sacks in back-to-back seasons. ESPN’s Todd McShay still has Epenesa as a late-first-round pick, citing his run-defending ability and potential as a power rusher.
  • Linebackers Kenneth Murray and Patrick Queen suffered injuries at the Combine, but both appear on track to recover fairly soon. Both ‘backers sustained the setbacks during their respective second 40 attempts. Queen suffered merely a tweaked hamstring, while Murray also appears to have dodged a serious hamstring injury (Twitter links via Miller and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com). Queen and Murray are expected to be first- or second-round selections.

Kenneth Murray Declares For Draft

Add another top prospect to the 2020 NFL Draft pool. Oklahoma linebacker Kenneth Murray is leaving school early to enter the draft, he announced in a video posted to Twitter

Murray is widely regarded as a first-round talent and one of the best linebackers in the draft. He was taken 18th overall in Matt Miller of Bleacher Report’s recent mock draft. Miller referred to him as “a linebacker with excellent range and the ability to stay on the field all three downs.” As Miller points out, that’s an essential trait for today’s NFL when inside linebackers like Murray need to be able to hold their own in coverage.

Murray became an immediate contributor as a freshman in 2017, and had an absurd 155 tackles as a sophomore last year. This past season, he had 102 tackles, 17 for a loss, and four sacks to go along with four passes defended. He was a first-team All-Big 12 as well as a consensus All-American selection this year.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.