Is Rookie Receiver Louis Murphy a Possible Starter For The Oakland Raiders?

Gil BecerraCorrespondent IJuly 14, 2009

The Selection of Louis Murphy:

The Oakland Raiders selected Louis Murphy with the 124th pick (fourth Round) of the 2009 NFL Draft.  The Raiders had already chosen a receiver the day prior as they picked Darrius Heyward-Bey with the seventh overall pick, but could not pass on Murphy.

At that Draft point, the Raiders still needed an offensive lineman, a defensive-tackle, a cornerback, and a blocking tight end.

Murphy is a receiver from a spread offense, which contributed to why the Raiders chose him, rather than Jeremy Maclin and Michael Crabtree.  Things change however, when a team selects at #124 instead of #7 in the Draft, because value is the priority at selection #124.

The Raiders sure added value with this pick, because analysts projected Murphy as a third round pick.  The Raiders now have themselves a two time National Champion with a demeanor on how to win, and what it takes to win through adversity.


Murphy's College Years:

Scouts.com had ranked Murphy as the 37th overall receiver in 2005 as a high school senior.  Murphy decided to enroll with Florida -- good choice.  At Florida, Murphy slowly went from no snaps in and an occasional special team’s player to a starting receiver and leader for the Gators.

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As a freshman and sophomore, Murphy only played special teams with few snaps at receiver, but Murphy caught his first career college TD as a sophomore.

Percy Harvin would get all the attention in 2006, but Murphy finally started with Harvin in the 2007 season.  That year, Murphy had 37 receptions for 548 yards and five touchdowns, but that year ended in disappointment though, as the Gators went 9-4 and would ultimately lose to the Michigan Wolverines in the Capitol One Bowl.

Murphy and the Gators would rebound in 2008 after a loss at home vs. Ole Miss.  The Gators would then run the table and win the National Title.

In that title run, Murphy had 38 receptions for 655 yards and 5 touchdowns, and his YAC (yards after catch) increased from 14.8 (2007) to 17.2 (2008).


Measured Tools:

Height: 6' 2"    

Weight: 203lbs  

40-yard Dash Time: 4.43 (ran 4.25 while at Florida)

Bench Reps: 12    

Vertical Jump: 34.5  

Hand Width: 10"


Wide Receivers on Team

As of now, the Raiders have 12 signed receivers.  You head that, you count 'em – 12 receivers when Training Camp will begin.

They are, Javon Walker, Chaz Schilens, Johnnie Lee Higgins, Arman Shields, Johnathan Holland, Todd Watkins, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Nick Miller, Sammie Parker, Shawn Bayes, Will Franklin and of course, Louis Murphy.  Whew!

Out of everyone mentioned, only Schilens, Heyward-Bey, and Higgins seem assured of a roster spot.

Schilens has cemented the no. 1 spot on this team with his off-season improvement and hard work shown during OTA's.  The Raiders are a run first team that needs a receiver with size and can block, Chaz can do that just fine.

Now, with the no. 2 spot: Higgins should still have a prominent role as a kick-returner with an expanded role at receiver, and that role should become occasional slot duty.

Heyward-Bey and Walker are both nursing injuries and have everyone wondering as to whether they will be ready.

Out of the other guys involved, no one has played enough nor shown anything to break the starting line-up -- not Shields, Holland, Watkins, Miller, Parker, Bayes or Franklin.  The Raiders will likely cut a majority of those receivers throughout the next six weeks.


Coach Approved

Reports have quoted Coach Tom Cable that Murphy has been the most impressive out of the rookies these past OTA's, because he has loved Murphy's meticulousness and hard work.

Urban Meyer loved this kid, and commented that Murphy is very coach-able and liked by both coaches and staff.  Murphy has not had any 'off-field' issues even after winning frequently in college.

Murphy has always has had a team first attitude, and is known for his hard work and film study.  Murphy is a fast receiver that can help immediately as a down field threat.  That set would be nice, would it not?

QB: JaMarcus Russell    

RB: Darren McFadden/Michael Bush  

TE: Zach Miller

WR: Chaz Schilens  

WR: Murphy, Johnnie Lee Higgins or Darrius Heyward-Bey

Murphy has the frame of a sprinter who can add a few pounds to survive the bump and run coverage in the NFL, but as soon as he hits that second gear you must watch out because, he's gone.

There are several knocks about Murphy's game.  Murphy's blocking is not anywhere near NFL ready, but that is something that will eventually develop.  Murphy’s hands have been inconsistent, and Murphy has backed down from going across the middle of the field.  Murphy's route running is still raw, and he is still mastering the timing for snatching balls in the air.

Nevertheless, with the attitude and work ethic that Murphy has, do not be surprised if he makes the starting line-up, because he is what the team needs from a young receiver.  Moreover, due to the injuries bothering both Heyward-Bey and Walker, the door of opportunity has opened.  Will Murphy walk through that door?


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