Houston Texans: Three cornerbacks to target in the 2019 NFL Draft

Houston Texans assistant head coach and defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel (Photo by Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Houston Texans assistant head coach and defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel (Photo by Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /
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Houston Texans
Washington cornerback Byron Murphy, who should be targeted by the Houston Texans (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images) /

Cornerback #2: Byron Murphy

When you talk about college football players that have been able to burst quickly onto the scene, Byron Murphy should be one of the first guys that you should be thinking about.  Murphy, who’s already declaring for the draft after making his debut as a redshirt freshman with the University of Washington back in 2017, is trying to strike things while they’re hot.

It’s his instinct as a football player at this position that is warranting his value to be high which more than makes up for his lanky, 5-foot-10, 190-pound frame.  Murphy also has 30.13-inch arms and 8.88-inch hands and was able to run a solid 4.55 at the NFL Combine.

PFF had him graded at a sterling 92.0 along with 904 snaps in 2018.  He was ranked 17th among cornerbacks in yards per cover snap (0.66).

He’s regarded as an above-average corner in coverage, run defense, passer rating allowed, cover snaps per target (7.87) and his innate ability to make plays.  Quarterbacks had a terrible 54.5 passer rating when they’d throw the ball toward Murphy’s path.

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Murphy, who started all 14 games at CB last season, was named to the second-team All-America by the Associated Press, SI.com, The Sporting News and USA Today and was obviously a first-team All-Pac-12 selection.  PFF and Athlon Sports named him to their respective first teams as well.

Not necessarily tops among high school recruits nationally, he was in the upper-echelon among talent out of the state of Arizona and was well-regarded in close scout circles.  This is likely because he attended Marcos de Niza High in Tempe, Ariz. and Saguaro High in Scottsdale, Ariz., which are smaller schools that are the equivalent of a 3A — or a fringe 4A-class — school here in Texas.

Despite all of that, he found a way to push his way through the fray of talent, make his mark with Washington all the way earning the MVP in the Pac-12 Championship Game.  He helped the Huskies get to a 10-4 record (7-2 Pac-12) with a narrow 28-23 loss to Ohio State in this past season’s Rose Bowl game.

What are the experts saying?

Lance Zierlein of NFL.com:

"“Ball-hawking man corner who makes up for a lack of physical tools with outstanding instincts, toughness, and short-area quickness. Murphy’s ball production per target is as good as you will find thanks to an innate ability to process the quarterback and route development simultaneously. His long speed is below average and will panic and start grabbing when he ends up in an unexpected trail position. His short-area twitch and run support toughness could make him an early target for teams looking for help at the nickel.”"

Joe Marino of The Draft Network:

"“Murphy’s fluidity, quickness, speed, ability to mirror routes, press technique, zone awareness and ball skills make him a scheme-transcendent talent. He features lockdown coverage skills with the ability to make game-changing plays on the football. He may have only started 20 games in college but his football IQ and athletic ability is good enough to contribute right away. Murphy has the potential to be among the top cornerbacks in the NFL by year three.”"

With that being said, there’s no question that Murphy would be able to make an impact.  There are concerns about his size/frame but those can be corrected with the proper training regimen.  Instincts come naturally and that’s the best thing Murphy has going for him and why he’ll see success in the NFL.  It might as well be with the Houston Texans!

Murphy finished 2018 with 44 tackles (four missed), four interceptions, nine passes defended and 17 run stops through 62 targets with the Huskies.  Receivers had a jaw-dropping 50 percent catch percentage when Murphy was lurking in the wings.