There is a fairly general consensus that if the New Orleans Saints stay put with the 24th pick of the 2020 NFL Draft that they will draft a linebacker. Former-LSU Tiger Patrick Queen has been mocked to the Saints in almost every single pundit’s attempt at predicting what head coach Sean Payton and General Manager Mickey Loomis will try to do.
Patrick Queen has slowly been climbing up draft boards as the draft has inched closer. With plenty of quarterbacks, wide receivers and even corners becoming more desirable, the linebackers could get pushed further down in the first-round. This leaves a distinct possibility that Oklahoma’s Kenneth Murray could be available when New Orleans takes its turn.
There’s a general consensus that the top linebacker available in the draft is Clemson’s Isaiah Simmons. Behind Simmons it gets a little murky and depends on who you talk to or what the team’s needs are. All that to say that it’s reasonable to think that Queen or Murray will be available at 24. So what does Murray have to offer to any team, including the Saints, who may employ his services?
Murray posses all of the skills needed to develop into an elite linebacker in the NFL. His most noted strength is his speed which allows him to fly across the field and make quick, powerful plays. His “sideline to sideline” ability is mentioned by nearly every evaluator of the position. Murray is also an incredibly physical player, making plays with a sense of purpose and poise allowing him to be one of the best tacklers in the crop.
The Oklahoma product is also universally praised for his work ethic. That type of dedication will arguably translate to and dictate future NFL success far more than raw talent. However, Murray possesses both dedication and raw talent, elevating him in my eyes to the second best linebacker prospect in this draft. Skills can be coached and refined, being a student of the game cannot.
The only real complaints against Murray are his ball carrier tracking skills and making plays between the tackles. Despite his dedication to being a student of the game, he occasionally makes bad decisions and has had trouble covering routes downfield. These weaknesses are coachable and he can develop out of them.
Overall, Murray is an incredibly physical player, and is dedicated to becoming a better and smarter player at his position. Furthermore, Murray’s three years as a starter at Oklahoma provide additional experience that some of the younger options (Queen) have not been afforded.