Seahawks Draft Reaction: Top pick Byron Murphy a ‘300-lb ball of muscle’

Apr 25, 2024, 9:20 PM | Updated: Apr 27, 2024, 3:16 pm

The Seattle Seahawks’ first draft pick of the Mike Macdonald era went to the defensive side of the ball.

Seahawks ’24 NFL Draft Breakdown: A look at all 8 Seattle picks

Seattle selected Texas defensive tackle Byron Murphy II at No. 16 overall in the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft on Thursday night. The 6-foot-1, 297-pound Murphy was just the second defensive player off the board, taken one pick after the Indianapolis Colts picked UCLA edge rusher and former UW Huskies defender Laiatu Latu at No. 15.

In picking Murphy, the Seahawks are looking to bolster a struggling defense that ranked 24th in the NFL last season with 23.6 points allowed per game. It’s a fitting first pick for Seattle under Macdonald, who had immense success as Michigan Wolverines defensive coordinator in 2021 and Baltimore Ravens DC in 2022 and 2023.

During Seattle Sports’ NFL Draft coverage Thursday night, former NFL players Brock Huard, Dave Wyman and Michael Bumpus shared their thoughts on the pick.

Seattle Seahawks draft Texas DL Byron Murphy II in first round

“You gotta help address your defense (that was) 31st in the league at stopping the run,” said Huard, who is a FOX college football analyst. “And you listen to anybody that’s covered Michigan over the years – where Mike Macdonald was, where his roots have been cultivated with the Harbaughs – you build a wall. That is the philosophy of Mike Macdonald and this defense: you build a wall, and that means you stop the run.

“This dude right here is a 6-foot, 300-pound ball of freaking muscle. He ran 4.8 (seconds in the 40-yard dash) at the combine. He is a freak. … There wasn’t enough weight in the Texas weight room to handle his power cleans and his squats. He is a dynamic, dynamic, dynamic dude, right in the middle of the defensive line. (Seattle general manager) John Schneider’s gonna get up there and he’s going to say this confidently: ‘We’ve got the number one defensive guy on our board, and we got him at 16 in this draft.'”

Murphy was a second-team Associated Press All-American this past season, totaling five sacks and 8.5 tackles while forming a game-wreaking one-two punch on the interior of Texas’ defensive line with fellow early-round NFL Draft prospect  T’Vondre Sweat. The duo anchored a defense that helped the Longhorns reach the College Football Playoff.

Murphy had a 91.5 Pro Football Focus pass-rush grade, which was the best in the nation among all interior defensive linemen. His overall defensive grade of 91.1 was second among all interior defensive linemen, trailing only Sweat.

How Murphy fits with Seahawks

Murphy will be tasked with helping improve a Seattle defense that allowed 4.6 yards per carry last season (28th in the NFL) and 138.4 rushing yards per game (31st).

“When you are one of the worst teams against the run in the NFL, you’ve gotta find these guys,” Bumpus said. “… They keep you clean so (the linebackers) can make those tackles. They’re taking on the double teams, they’re clogging the gaps. They’re OK with doing a job that isn’t sexy. So what does that do? That allows your (linebackers) Jerome Baker (and) Tyrel Dotson the opportunity to make those plays.”

Murphy has the potential to form a stout defensive line duo in Seattle with 6-foot-5, 300-pound defensive end Leonard Williams, who had four sacks and nine tackles for loss in 10 games last season after the Seahawks acquired him in an October trade with the New York Giants. Seattle re-signed Williams to a three-year, $64.5 million contract in March.

Wyman discussed just how impactful a pairing like that can be.

“It’s so disruptive,” Wyman said. “And if they’re quick off the ball, (like) what you see from Leonard Williams, they can’t move him. And so (now) you have two of those guys.”

Bumpus said that while the pick makes sense, he would’ve preferred Seattle take UW Huskies offensive lineman Troy Fautanu, given the Seahawks’ needs on the interior of their offensive line. Fautanu ended up going to the Pittsburgh Steelers at No. 20.

“It makes complete sense,” Bumpus said. “You’ve got a defensive head coach in here and there’s so much newness to this staff. Which side of the ball are they going to attack? It’s natural to think that because Mike Macdonald’s here – he had one of the best defenses in the land with the Baltimore Ravens – that he’s gonna address that defense and make it exactly what it is. That’s why we’ve seen some of the (defensive free agent) additions (this offseason).

“I thought eventually they’d shift over to the offense when it comes to the draft and protect their quarterback, because I feel like they have the quarterback of the future in (free-agent signing) Sam Howell – they think he’s the quarterback of the future, they’re gonna give him the opportunity if Geno (Smith) doesn’t work out. What can you do to ensure their success? You make sure they’re protected. That offensive line has been shaky, but so has that defensive line and defense as a whole.”

Watch the full video reaction from Seattle Sports’ draft coverage at this link or in the player near the top of this post.

More on the Seattle Seahawks and the NFL Draft

Seattle Seahawks NFL Draft Tracker: Keep up on every pick and trade
Stunner! UW Huskies’ Michael Penix Jr. drafted No. 8 by Atlanta
Rome Odunze drafted No. 9 as UW Huskies go back-to-back
Troy Fautanu to Steelers, giving UW Huskies 3 1st-rounders in draft
Details: Live Seahawks NFL Draft coverage from Seattle Sports

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