How Trent Murphy Fits with Washington Redskins

James DudkoFeatured ColumnistMay 9, 2014

Dec 7, 2013; Tempe, AZ, USA; Stanford Cardinal linebacker Trent Murphy (93) against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Sun Devil Stadium. Stanford defeated Arizona State 38-14. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Redskins needed another flexible pass-rusher for their 3-4 defense, and they got one in the form of ex-Stanford man Trent Murphy.

He is a terrific fit for coordinator Jim Haslett's blitz-happy schemes. Murphy brings a wealth of 3-4 experience, having operated in a hybrid version of the front at Palo Alto.

That word "hybrid" is key to understanding Murphy's value to this team. He has the size, quickness and flexibility to positively impact the pass rush from multiple positions.


The 6'5", 250-pounder can play outside linebacker on the base front, but he can also shift to end in nickel packages. Speaking of nickel packages, Haslett can use Murphy and fellow outside 'backers Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan on the same line and get creative about where he aligns them.

Murphy is also strong enough to be shifted inside to a 3-technique position, while Orakpo and Kerrigan collapse the edges. As a versatile situational pass-rusher, Murphy can give Haslett what he hoped he would get from veteran Darryl Tapp last season.

Haslett has indicated he will unleash his outside pass-rushers more often this season, per reporter John Keim. That'll be good news for Murphy under the tutelage of new outside 'backers coach Brian Baker.

Murphy should develop quickly thanks to his scheme familiarity, as well as his temperament and solid technique, attributes described by draft pundit Nolan Nawrocki:

Naturally big-boned with a good frame to add bulk if desired. Very good instincts. Above-average athlete -- bends fairly well. Massive mitts (11 1/8 inches) measured bigger than any other player at the combine. Good hand use -- can jolt blockers with his punch. Controls the line of scrimmage and consistently outleverages tight ends. Very physical re-routing tight ends at the line. Outstanding motor and sack production -- led the country in sacks (15) as a senior. Tough, smart and hardworking with a throwback personality. Leader vocally and by example. Will hold teammates accountable and represent the program with class.

With new signing Jason Hatcher offering greater explosion from the trenches, Murphy's arrival means Haslett now has enough weapons to make his daring concepts work.

On a wider level, drafting Murphy safeguards the team against losing Orakpo next season. He received the franchise tag this year, but a decision regarding a more permanent arrangement can't be put off forever.

If Orakpo fails to match the lofty standards he set last season, when he tallied 10 sacks, he could be gone by the time the 2015 NFL draft commences.

Dec 22, 2013; Landover, MD, USA; Washington Redskins outside linebacker Brian Orakpo (98) prepares to run onto the field prior to the Redskins' game against the Dallas Cowboys at FedEx Field. The Cowboys won 24-23. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY

But with Murphy around, decision-makers in Washington won't have to worry about reaching a contract impasse with Orakpo.

Many might consider picking a rush linebacker a luxury, especially with obvious issues along the O-line. But this was an obvious need, and one general manager Bruce Allen has clearly planned for.

The team met with four "Joker-style" pass-rushers prior to the draft, per, although Murphy was not among them.

With Murphy now on board, Orakpo has been sent a clear warning not to rest on his laurels in 2014, while a defense that mustered a pitiful 36 sacks last season just got a lot better.