Atlanta needs a pass-rushing defensive end/outside linebacker combination. One of the best fits for the Falcons in the draft is Stanford's Trent Murphy.
Atlanta had the pleasure of coaching him at the Senior Bowl and—as ESPN's Vaughn McClure points out—showed special interest in him when he was there. Let's discover how the Stanford talent can help the Falcons in 2014 and beyond.
6'5-3/8", 252 pounds
2013: 14 Games Played, 62 Tackles, 23.5 Tackles for Loss, 15.0 Sacks, 5 QB Hurries, 1 Interception, 2 Fumbles Forced, 6 Pass Deflections, 1 Blocked Kick, 1 Defensive Touchdown
2012: 14 Games Played, 56 Tackles, 18.0 Tackles for Loss, 10.0 Sacks, 6 QB Hurries, 1 Interception, 1 Fumble Forced, 4 Pass Deflections, 1 Defensive Touchdown
2011: 13 Games Played, 40 Tackles, 10.0 Tackles for Loss, 6.5 Sacks, 1 Pass Deflection
2010: 2 Games Played, 2 Tackles, 1.0 Tackles for Loss, 1.0 Sacks
Murphy is a highly productive pass-rusher in the Pac-12 and has shown a varied array of pass-rushing moves. He's also been able to show pass-rush abilities at both outside linebacker in the 3-4 and defensive end in the 4-3.
He's got great length in his frame and shows excellent quickness for someone of his size. He's got top-level hand usage and understands how to read opposing teams' offenses. He's also one of the leaders for the Cardinal. His versatility will be useful for Atlanta.
His biggest weaknesses come both in the running game and due to a lack of high-first-round athleticism. He's not going to run a 4.5 in the 40-yard dash, and he's not going to time well overall. He also isn't the strongest player out there and wins with technique as opposed to winning by overpowering or outmaneuvering an opponent.
How Does He Fit the Comrade Filter?
Murphy is one of the best off-field players in the entire draft. He's a team leader and captain for the Cardinal, and like all Falcons picks from the past six years, he hasn't been arrested or suspended. Atlanta would welcome him into its locker room full of lunch-pail-type guys.
While he does have some deficiencies in his game, Murphy has shown that he's worthy of a mid-late first-round selection. If he happens to fall to their second-round selection, expect them to pull the trigger if they decide to not take a pass-rusher in the first round.
How He Would Fit into the Falcons' Plans
Mike Nolan would have a lot of fun with Murphy. He could align the Cardinal product all over the formations and even use him as a starting defensive end or linebacker depending on the formation. With another versatile weapon like Murphy in the defense, Nolan could finally have the pass rush he's always wanted.