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Need to Know: What happens to Trent Murphy if the Redskins draft an edge rusher?

Mar 24, 2015, 7:56 AM EDT


Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, March 24, 37 days before the Washington Redskins go on the clock at the NFL draft.

Question of the day

A few days a week I’ll give an in-depth answer to a question submitted by a fan on my Twitter feed, via the Real Redskins Facebook page, or in the comments section here. On Twitter address the questions to me at @Rich_TandlerCSN with the #NTK hashtag. There will be a comment thread set up on the Facebook page and if you’re asking your question here, put “for NTK” at the start of the comment.

Today’s question is from Twitter:

There is plenty of talk that the Redskins will use the fifth overall pick in the draft on an edge rusher. Scot McCloughan has said that the Redskins will take the best player available on the board and if you believe the majority of the draft analysts out there the best player is likely to be an outside linebacker or a college defensive end who will be converted to an OLB. Some might prefer Nebraska’s Randy Gregory, others think that Vic Beasley of Clemson could be the man or perhaps it’s former Florida Gator Dante Fowler or Shane Ray from Mizzou.

But if the Redskins do take an edge defender, not matter who it is, it will affect the playing status of Trent Murphy. He was last year’s top draft pick, taken in the second round. If the Redskins take another edge rusher is he going to be banished to the bench?

The answer is a resounding no. Let me quote Colts GM Ryan Grigson from the NFL Combine, who was merely repeating what countless other GM’s have said through the years:

“I was always brought up with if you have 12 pass-rushers, give me 13. You can never have enough pass-rushers and that’s Scouting 101. The hard part is actually finding them and then finding ones that, the handful of them that are clean and really good…. If there’s a pass-rusher that gets your blood pumping in the draft, then you’re going to have to consider him, no matter where your needs are.”

Right now, the Redskins have three players who could be considered legitimate pass rushers—Murphy, Ryan Kerrigan, and Jason Hatcher. This is likely to be Hatcher’s last year in Washington so that brings it down to two, and Murphy is untested.

In any case, it’s far short of the 12 or 13 that Grigson covets. So the Redskins will have to find a role for Murphy (it’s safe to assume that the 2015 top draft pick would become the starter very early in the season if not immediately) if they do bring in another pass rusher.

He had a defined role last year when Brian Orakpo was healthy, lining up in nickel situations and on earlier downs in occasional relief of Orakpo. In the first six games of the season (Orakpo went out for the year during the seventh game) Murphy played 162 snaps out of 415, or about 39 percent. That’s a fairly substantial workload.

If the Redskins do draft a first-round edge rusher, Murphy’s role could be expanded beyond what he did with Orakpo in the lineup. A rookie outside linebacker would almost certainly be rotated out more often than the sixth-year veteran Orakpo was. And perhaps new defensive coordinator Joe Barry will find some additional situations for Murphy. It’s not out of the question that the could play at least a dozen more snaps per game than he did in the earlier stages of his rookie year. That would put him up around 60 percent of the snaps, a solid role for a second-round draft pick.

And then there is the “you never know” stuff. Injuries happen and Murphy could serve as valuable depth. Not to bring up the unthinkable for many Redskins fans but Ryan Kerrigan is playing on a one-year team option in his contract. Even though there is plenty of talk that an extension in the works, until that talk results in a signed piece of paper there is the possibility that he won’t be around in 2016. Murphy will then likely move into a starting role and the Redskins will be out in search of even more pass rushers.

In any case, Murphy will have a role as long as he remains healthy. It might not say “starter” next to his name but he will have plenty of snaps to try to get to the quarterback.


—It’s been 86 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be about 173 days until they play another one.

Days until: Redskins offseason workouts start 27; 2015 NFL Draft 37; Redskins training camp starts 128

If you have any questions about what’s going on at Redskins Park, hit me up in the comments. And I’m always on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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In case you missed it

  1. abanig - Mar 24, 2015 at 8:04 AM

    I think they’ll have murphy be the run down OLB and have our rookie be the pass rush specialist on 2nd & 3rd and long.

    I also think it would be wise for the redskins to ask Murphy to put on 20-30 pounds so be can play 3-4 DE, a position which I think he’s better suited for anyways, he just needs to add weight over the next yesr or two.

    • Stephfan - Mar 24, 2015 at 8:10 AM

      I. Agree with you. But the think the rookie will start, Murphy will be backup. Don’t Mind him putting on weight either

  2. dcfaninecuador - Mar 24, 2015 at 8:33 AM

    Let’s see: Kerrigan, 6’4″ 260. Murphy,6’5″ 258. I don’t see a weight issue

    • troylok - Mar 24, 2015 at 12:44 PM

      If you take a good look at picture of both on the football field you will see a real difference in how they are built. Murphy is just lanky. His physique at this point reminds of Ted Hendricks (The Mad Stork).

    • ET - Mar 24, 2015 at 12:44 PM

      I think the commenter above was talking about adding pounds if Murphy is moved to DE, not if he remains at linebacker.

    • abanig - Mar 24, 2015 at 3:35 PM

      It’s weight so he can play 3-4 DE better, not so he can be an OLB. I think Murphy needs a position change if we draft an OLB @ 5 overall and that player ends up being a better pass rusher than Murphy, which is most likely.

      Think about having Murphy playe RDE in two years and Beasley, Fowler, Gregory or Ray rushing he passer next to him at ROLB.

  3. kenlinkins - Mar 24, 2015 at 8:39 AM

    Rich, you make a great point about Kerrigan not being under contract for 2016 (which increases the need for Murphy). Murphy has a value in the fact he can play S-OLB, DE, and W-OLB in a 3-4. Rich: Is Murphy known as one of the young guys who stays late to work on his game?

    • Rich Tandler - Mar 24, 2015 at 10:02 AM

      Don’t recall him being talked about one way or the other in regards to film work. I know he has always been among the first on the practice field. He’d come in the first bus to the practice facility at training camp and be out there way before everyone else. Often that carries over to the film room but, again, don’t know for sure.

      > > >

      • kenlinkins - Mar 24, 2015 at 12:06 PM

        And this kind of answer is why I check here daily to read about the Redskins. In this case Rich gives me a great answer. He tells me what he knows for sure, what his years of reporting suggests without calling it fact, let’s me know that there was talk about film room study with some of the Redskins but this player didn’t stand out one way or another on that subject that he can recall and widens his answer to include mornings so I gain a better over all insight to my question. All of this is a few lines, very much to the point and on point. Thanks again Rich, you make following the Redskins much easier!

        • hk2000 - Mar 24, 2015 at 1:43 PM

          Couldn’t agree more. Compare and contrast that to an answer Chris Russel might give you which would sound something like this: ” Ahh,I don’t know, I was told – someone I trust told me- again I don’t know- but, um… I, look I’m not saying he is a lazy person by any means, buuuuuut I think, I have sources that tell me well he can do better, lets just say that………..” That in a nutshell is what DC media is like- sneakily creating controversies, drama,..etc. Again Rich is the only one who does not resort to those tactics. Thank you Rich.

  4. captblood3000 - Mar 24, 2015 at 8:50 AM

    With number 5 pick you should be able to upgrade almost any position on your roster. I want the Best Player Available. This means that the Redskins must get their scouting right.

    • 214hof - Mar 24, 2015 at 9:37 AM

      I agree, if the Skins are forced to pick at 5 (no trade offers) and they end up with a pass rusher not name Fowler I’ll be disappointed to say the least. I don’t see these other guys being good enough with the other players that would still be on the board. You can argue with me until you”re blue in the face, but you are not going to change my opinion that OLB will be BPA at 5. ( too many flaw in the “top” prospects’ games) People are are believing themselves that OLB is a “hole”, when in actuality it is no more a “hole” then WR is. OLBs that get selected in the 1st (let alone the top 10) need to be able to STOP THE RUN first and foremost, being a talented pass rusher is the icing on the cake that gets you selected high. Rak and Kerrigans’ strength coming out of college was that they set the edge and STOPPED THE RUN (something this year’s crop cannot do aside from Fowler). They both were above average pass rushers, that learned better techniques at the NFL level.(mostly just Kerrigan, Rak tried to overpower everyone and tore his pecks in the process)

      • abanig - Mar 24, 2015 at 3:40 PM

        What’s Fowler done that’s so great?

        His production is doubled by Beasley. Gregory & Ray have also had better production than fowler.

        My issue with Fowler is that he seems like Orakpo to me. When you watch him, you see the athleticism, you see the Burt and speed as a rusher, yet you see him miss or just miss on a lot of sacks. He gets pressure, but doesn’t produce a lot of sacks. He doesn’t finish plays.

        • 214hof - Mar 24, 2015 at 4:01 PM

          Fowler is the most complete vs the other four one dimensional pass rushers you mentioned. If I had to choose and OLB at #5 he’s the one in my eyes. Just because OLB in a 3-4 mainly get judged on sacks doesn’t mean they don’t have other responsibilities on defense.

  5. troylok - Mar 24, 2015 at 9:23 AM

    It is a relative unknown how Barry will line his players up. In theory, he could have some plays in his bag of tricks that use more than four linebackers and that could get Murphy on the field at the same time as draftee #1. If Barry is flexible, he will find a way to get his best players on the field at the same time. If Murphy is one of those, then he gets a lot of playing time.

    As for what Murphy needs to do this offseason, I would say he needs to work on building some muscle mass. The guy is lanky and could stand to pack on some pounds. I think the new trainer will be good for Murphy helping him develop more explosiveness as well as some muscle.

    • ET - Mar 24, 2015 at 12:53 PM

      Good point regarding Barry’s potential schemes. We just don’t know how all the pieces will rotate yet.

      Murphy had a respectable season last year, though, and I think he’ll only improve with players like Knighton and Paea in front of him. Picking up another edge rusher is ok by me, but I expect to see continued improvement from Murphy regardless of whether he’s splitting time with a draft pick.

  6. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Mar 24, 2015 at 11:57 AM

    Whether or not we have Kerrigan, Murphy, and our (potential) edge rusher on the field at the same time, it’s pretty clear we need the depth.

    People get hurt, they wear down in the 4th quarter if not subbed in enough (or else if the offense is completely feeble), etc.

  7. bangkokben - Mar 24, 2015 at 1:01 PM

    “it’s pretty clear we need the depth.”

    Don’t tell that to Sean Taylor for Hall of Fame. He’s on record for saying it’s a luxury pick.

    • 214hof - Mar 24, 2015 at 3:50 PM

      Yes, I said…at #5… Also “on record” for saying Washington needs depth at the position, and everywhere else for that matter. I suggested a guy like Lozo Mauldin in the 4th. Washington could use depth everywhere but along the D line. (after F/A)

      • bangkokben - Mar 24, 2015 at 4:35 PM

        But if Leonard Williams somehow drops and is available at #5…

        I think your definition of depth and mine are quite different. DL may be the deepest position but that doesn’t mean that it’s adequate or that there isn’t room for improvement. The only position that you can’t have too much depth is on the o-line. Not because it isn’t important – it is tremendously important – but because of simple logistics. You can only carry eight or nine on your roster and each person has a clearly defined role.

        • 214hof - Mar 24, 2015 at 5:05 PM

          That is a whole different scenario, (that’s highly unlikely) if Williams were to drop in the Skins lap they most definitely pull the trigger (probably fast card turned in the whole draft)… Highly doubt IF it happens that he is viewed as “depth”. He would start and push someone else to a “depth” role.

    • captblood3000 - Mar 24, 2015 at 5:53 PM

      There’s such thing as a luxury pick in BPA unless you have two or more prospects with roughly equal grades at the top of your Board and you don’t use need as your tiebreaker. The case for selecting an edge rusher is mainly based on the number of prospects (4) that scouts can m identify as worthy of that pick. Other positions aren’t so deep. The Redskins might still pick up a wide receiver or Danny Shelton instead, but the numbers of prospects suggest that one of the edge rushers will have the highest grade of the players on the Board at #5.

      • 214hof - Mar 24, 2015 at 6:25 PM

        I agree with what your saying, my own opinion is that if Washington really is drafting for 2016 & 2017 then WR or Shelton would make more sense at 5. If they trade down to say 12, Beasley & Ray might still be there… At the very least Bud Dupree, but then you gotta think other guys might come into play that might still be on the board like the Iowa T, or Trey Waynes. Hard to predict this year more then others, Washington hasn’t been so open with what’s going on and they can literally draft any position.

  8. skinner4life - Mar 24, 2015 at 3:15 PM

    Kerrigan is not going any where I would bet the farm on that

    • bangkokben - Mar 24, 2015 at 4:39 PM

      I know we all felt the same way about Sean Taylor too. Point isn’t that S happens but who is the next man up if it does?

  9. abanig - Mar 24, 2015 at 4:41 PM

    I thjnk Murphy will be a valueable piece f the defense no matter what.

    • Stephfan - Mar 24, 2015 at 5:03 PM

      He will I just he is better suited as a back up

      • abanig - Mar 24, 2015 at 6:33 PM

        I think the only way he remains a starter is if he does what I said before. Puts on 20-30 pounds and plays 3-4 DE

        • Stephfan - Mar 24, 2015 at 6:47 PM

          I agree

  10. greed - Mar 24, 2015 at 6:28 PM

    completely off topic but…… Have you seen chic hernandez blonde hair of fire ! Lol classic fail HTTR

  11. greed - Mar 24, 2015 at 11:10 PM

    think murph will be fine with weight/strength -He a full season under his belt and a full offseason of nfl professional weight training almost like graduating H.S. Then going to play college ball 3months- later youll see more strength and power from him- kerrigan went thru same transition and he did it during the lockout offseason

    • abanig - Mar 25, 2015 at 9:24 AM

      True, and I do know that his father – the body builder – put on 20 to 30 pounds when he got to age 20 so that he weighted 290 pounds. My thought is that it is just going to be natural that Murphy starts adding weight in the next two years and eventually weights 285 or 290 and plays 3-4 DE for the Redskins.

  12. mr.moneylover - Mar 25, 2015 at 8:52 AM

    I still think he will be a starter week 1 because of game experience but I say probably week 4 they might let vic Beasley start his first game…im not sold on the other pass rushers just vic Beasley and dante flower jr

    • abanig - Mar 25, 2015 at 5:29 PM

      Hmm… I’m not Sold on Fowler & Gregory. I want Beasley first, Ray 2nd.

      I think Murphy will start and play first downs and run downs. Beasley or Ray will play OLB on passing downs.

      Murphy will rotate as a DE with our other DEs on passing downs, similar to how he played the first 1/2 of last year when Rak was healthy. Archives

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