NEPD Staff Writer: Mike Gerken
Did you miss me? I know it has been awhile since I have posted a scouting report, but I am back now and hopefully on a regular basis. This nice fall weather has meant less time in front of the TV and more time working. Where are my priorities? I have been watching games however and the notebook is filling up, so now I just have to get it in written form. I took a break from corners to focus on another position I think will be a priority for the Patriots come draft day and that is Offensive Tackle.
The Patriots have taken a hit at Left Tackle because of injuries. Not only has starter Nate Solder gone down for the year, but his unproven backup Marcus Cannon has also missed the last couple of games dealing with a foot injury. The Patriots have used a lot of draft resources reshaping the interior of the offensive line and it may be time to bring in some young talent that can either be an upgrade at the position or someone the team can groom to take over when age, level of play, or contract become an issue for the guys already on the team. Tackles are hard to come by so the good ones typically get scooped up quickly. One player that might be available when the Patriots are on the clock is Kyle Murphy, so I have taken the time to watch several of his games and here are my thoughts.
Name: Kyle Murphy (#78)
School: Stanford (SR.)
Weight: 298 Lbs.
Murphy reminds me a lot of the both starting Tackles the Patriots have right now in Vollmer and Solder. He is a tall, athletic player that moves well and has long arms. His weight is not in his belly or behind like many other Tackles in the league. Murphy has quick feet and bursts out of his stance at the snap. In pass blocking, his upper and lower body work well together. He shuffles his feet well and shows the ability to change direction to mirror his defender. He uses his long arms to keep defenders out of his chest and to redirect them away from the Quarterback. In run blocking he again uses his quickness to either get to the second level or to shove off on blocker and move to a second. Murphy seems to show good football IQ, easily picking up stunts and blitzes.
While Murphy shows the quickness and athleticism to get to the second level, he really struggles to square up his block. Most of the time he leans way too far forward and either loses his balance and misses or falls down before getting to the block. He needs to work on his patients and balance when he is asked to block at the second level. In his pass blocking, he tends to lean too far forward with his head down at times and can get off balance. NFL pass rushers will eat that up. The other thing that stuck out to me is that Murphy struggles with strong, physical pass rushers. Too many times I saw him pushed back into the QB. He needs to add some weight and bulk, escpecially in his lower half. The other concern I had while watching Murphy was his tenacity. I like my lineman to play with a bit of a mean streak and play to the whistle and even a little beyond. I just didn’t see him play with that type of physicality on a consistent basis.
The Tackle position is a tough one to evaluate for the Patriots. In the past a guy like Murphy fit the mold perfectly but there seems to have been a shift in the type of lineman they look for from a physical standpoint. I really like Murphy’s quickness and athleticism. He is a more polished pass blocker than run blocker, but he has all the tools to be good at both. He needs to add strength and bulk to hold up against NFL pass rushers. It is difficult to find guys that big and who can move that well and if the Patriots still are looking for that type of Offensive Tackle, then I think Murphy would be a great option to learn from Vollmer and Solder and has the talent and potential to be a starter in the NFL when their time with the Patriots is up.