Evaluations: State's best in action at ASU

Some of Arizona's best talent was in action at Wednesday's Arizona State passing league tournament and big man competition including all three of the state's highest ranked 2016 skill position prospects. Here's evaluations of the top players in attendance.

Byron Murphy -- There's currently a big debate as to whom is the best 2016 prospect out of Murphy, a 6-foot-1 athlete at Saguaro, or one of two Chandler teammates, wide receiver N'Keal Harry or athlete Chase Lucas. So, it was a good opportunity to see all three in action on the same field Wednesday in 7-on-7 play. Murphy is currently my pick as the No. 1 recruit in the class in the state, though I think it's relatively close between Murphy and Harry. A big-framed glider-type player in the mold of the increasingly preferred NFL-style cornerback, Murphy caught a slew of passes all over the field including some acrobatic touchdowns, but it was on defense were he really kept my attention. Murphy isn't an elite quick twitch athlete but has enough initial quickness at the line of scrimmage when coupled with his length to be extremely disruptive in the full range of coverage techniques. He pins well vertically and never appears to lose an ounce of composure with his back to the football or in typically stress-inducing situations. There may have only been one rep in which I saw him lose the appropriate buffer in a man coverage rep over the course of several games. His disposition and poise elevate his athleticism and he has a very high ceiling, the type of cornerback who would typically be among the very best at the position nationally when looking long term.

N'Keal Harry -- A physically imposing 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds, Harry looks like he's ready to play the game at the college level right now. He maximizes his length very effectively by making a lot of extension plays on the football, often doing so in some form of dive or contortion. This gives him a great catch radius and makes him an excellent possession and red zone type target. He had one of the best touchdown catches of the day in the back corner of the end zone, outstretched and holding onto it through heavy contact with the ground. Harry is hard to get a check on or re-route at the line of scrimmage due to not only his heft but how well he gets lateral to the line of scrimmage quickly for his size without being overly wasteful with his feet. He is very economical with his movement for a bigger receiver. There's no question Harry is one of the better receivers in the West, if not in the country. Is he a 5-star or a 4-star. It really comes down to how his separation ability is perceived by evaluators, and how well he can re-direct on NFL routes, like the squared out and in cuts and curls. He's not a burner and not a freakishly quick receiver for his size, though he's a very impressive athlete. Some think he's got Jaelen Strong type potential and others don't think he'll be quite that impacting. But there's little doubt, at least from here, that he's an NFL upside prospect and Top-100 level recruit in the class.

Chase Lucas -- Though he's got a lot of potential in his own right, there's a clear demarcation right now between Lucas and the two aforementioned players here. Focus, consistency and overall skill level are issues with Lucas. Then there's the question as to what his best position really is long term. Usually that is becoming clearer in the better prospects by this stage of their development, but it's still uncertain with Lucas. He has played a lot of running back in high school, but that's not where he'll be long term. He's either a wide receiver, a bigger corner, or a free safety type depending on whom you ask, including people who know him extremely well and have for years. Wednesday, Lucas worked at receiver almost exclusively and had a solid, if unspectacular showing. He's been prone to concentration drops that leave questions about his hands that won't be answered until he stays dialed in consistently. He may be better served to play as a defensive back. He's got more torque to his athletic type than Murphy, which is why he could be better served as a wide receiver, but no mater what he does, he's going to need to fully embrace the skill development side of things. If he does, he could really become a great player in time.

Connor Murphy -- A 6-foot-7, 250 pound Brophy Prep defensive end, Murphy is going to end up bigger than his NFL brother Trent Murphy, who played his college ball at Stanford. While Trent is a hybrid type OLB/end at 6-foot-6 and 260 pounds, Connor Murphy still looks as though he's invariably going to add another 20-30 pounds, at least, and be a hand down player. There's a legitimate question as to whether he's ultimately going to be better served long term remaining on defense or embracing being an offensive tackle. He's got extremely long arms and a frame that will support in excess of 300 pounds if he wants to entertain the idea of playing offensive tackle. If not, he's going to be a 280-290 pound versatile end who'll be able to play effectively in a 3-4 scheme or on the strong/field side in a 4-3 front. His disruptiveness with his arm span is his best attribute as a defensive player. Murphy prevents offensive tackles from being able to manage his attack because they can't locate for a punch when he's executing from a skill standpoint. He's not a speed rusher projecting into college and beyond but can really anchor and close down gaps against the run, be a power attacker through dislodging, and especially if he learns to really play through his hips as a bull rusher with added size and strength. He'll also make it hard or quarterbacks to get the ball through him on quick slants and other throws through his zone. He's a four-star worthy prospect who has a big ceiling long term.

Kayden Lyles -- The only 2017 prospect on this list, Lyles is our No. 2 best offensive line prospect in the 2017 class -- after North Canyon's Austin Jackson, whom I currently believe to be the best prospect in Arizona regardless of class -- and one of the best overall recruits in Arizona among rising juniors. He's leaned out his body some, and really starting to physically look the best he has. Currently he is a 290-300 pound mauler of an offensive guard, but one who has great foot quickness for his size. He played tackle in this setting and showed great lateral range through engagement for a player who projects to offensive guard or center. This is a recruit who doesn't fall into the bad habit a lot of players do of being overly top heavy and prone to reaching too much to stay connected or last just long enough on a play. Lyles will run an offensive player completely off the map on a play and then finish with physicality. He has a strong punch for his age and that will only get better. He's not really tall or long for an interior offensive lineman, so that could be a bit limiting projecting long term, but he should be able to build up the correct way to 315-325 pounds over time and get a lot stronger and with the feet and pretty good flexibility, Lyles should be at minimum a quality multi-year starter for a high end college program.


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