Murphy on the Move

While Percy Harvin has attracted most of the recent attention among this year's Florida draft prospects for all the wrong reasons, another receiver has quietly been getting looked at as well. Louis Murphy may not go as high as Harvin, but he still has a chance to be a first day draft choice.

Louis Murphy never attracted big attention or individual honors during his time in Gainesville. His first two years were spent largely in Urban Meyer's doghouse, with just two catches to show for it. Even after Murphy changed his attitude and become one of the coach's favorite players, he still never had a 100-yard receiving day or caught more than one TD in a game. Despite the lack of eye popping stats, Murphy's total skill set is so appealing that he may well be a second round possibility.

Murphy is measured at over 6-2 and ran a 4.34 40-yard dash for scouts. His 33 inch long arms are another selling point. Like Harvin, he will have to overcome the negative perception about Gator receivers due to disappointing performances by other high draft picks at his position. He'll face doubts about the NFL readiness of players from Meyer's offense due to not running NFL style routes. Missing the Senior Bowl due to knee surgery was a tough break for Murphy, who might have been able to answer some of those questions in the practices leading up to the game.

Where Murphy may make up for those issues is his character and ability to meet other needs for a team. Serving as a captain for a national championship team and being praised the way Murphy has been by Meyer for his leadership is something teams will look on very favorably. Any receiver that's not a starter in the NFL has to be able to contribute on special teams. While Murphy has returned a few kickoffs, his work as a gunner on special teams is what might stand out over some others with similar grades and help him move up a team's draft board.

Wide receiver has always been a position that sees some quality players last deeper into the draft than anticipated. Who can forget seeing guys like Randy Moss and Andre Rison selected at the 21st and 22nd spots respectively after being billed as top 10 talents? Last year no receiver went in the entire first round. It will be a stunner if Michael Crabtree is not a very high pick, and most believe Missouri's Jeremy Maclin will go early as well.

The key for Murphy will be when the next group of players - guys like Harvin, Maryland's Darrius Heyward-Bay and Kenny Britt of Rutgers - go. The quicker that next wave of receivers comes off the board, the quicker his name will too. Most media draft evaluations list Murphy around the ninth or 10th ranked player at his position. The highly respected Pro Football Weekly guide has him as the 68th best available player in the draft, right on the fringe of the second round.

Several NFL teams have brought Murphy in for private workouts, including the Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers, New York Jets and the Miami Dolphins. Another team which could make sense for him is Chicago, which definitely needs a receiver and makes their first pick at 49 thanks to their deal for Jay Cutler. The Bears have drafted a number of Gator players under Jerry Angelo, possibly stemming from his years as a member of the Tampa Bay front office before getting the Bears GM job. Murphy is from St Petersburg, and Tampa Bay has expressed interest. The Buccaneers traded their second rounder for Kellen Winslow but might jump on Murphy if he lasted to the middle of the third round.


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