CB Eric Murray: Drafted
Round 4, 106th overall
Team: Kansas City Chiefs
Hometown: Milwaukee, Wis.
High School: Riverside University HS
No. 11 cornerback in the draft
No. 126 overall prospect
Minnesota Career: Murray, who never missed a practice or game during his four-year career, played in all 52 games and started 39 of them at corner. The lockdown defender, who was seldom tested by opposing quarterbacks, made 192 career tackles, which included 142 solo stops. Murray also registered 7.0 career tackles-for-loss, 24 pass breakups, two interceptions, three forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and two blocks.
The 5-11, 199-pounder from Milwaukee, Wis., made 66 tackles as a senior, which included 47 solo tackles. Murray, who was a captain during his last season, notched one interception and paced the team with seven pass breakups. He also recorded three forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. Murray was named All-Big Ten Third Team as a senior by both conference coaches and media.
He said it: Lance Zierlein (NFL.com)
Murray's size, durability (started 39 straight games) and physical nature should land him near the top of NFL teams' cornerback wish list. The 2014 second-team and 2015 third-team All-Big Ten selection's experience in press man coverage is extensive, and his ball skills are good enough to make plays (two interceptions, 24 pass break-ups) when given the opportunity. He stepped up his play as a senior, making more plays behind the line (four tackles for loss) and lining up ball carriers for the big hit, forcing three fumbles. He's also a special-teams stalwart who blocked two punts in 2014, which will only increase his impact as a rookie on Sundays.
STRENGTHS Plays with excellent technique when running vertically with wideouts. Maintains good positioning and crowds receiver's chest forcing him against the sideline. Looks to smother any and every route underneath from press man coverage. Talented in trial technique. Uses a quick jab to the shoulder that can be very effective on unsuspecting targets. Not content to ride blocks and battles to get to a tackle in his area. Disciplined in zone coverage. Able to maintain focus on quarterback and wide receiver. Will look to make a play outside his area if he thinks he can jump the throw. Adequate closeout burst to the ball.
BOTTOM LINE Too small to play outside, but has enough cover skills and toughness against the run to make it in the league as a slot cornerback. Murray's instincts and vision serve him well in zone coverage, which might be where he is at his best, but he shouldn?t be considered limited to just zone-based defenses. He will be challenged by quality quarterback play at the Senior Bowl and a good week there could solidify him in the middle rounds.
Prospect Evaluation (CBS Sports)
University of Minnesota was rarely discussed for having one of the top cornerback tandems in the country, but the Gophers belong in the discussion with the talented senior duo of Eric Murray and Briean Boddy-Calhoun and Murray, a three-year starter with a school-best 24 pass breakups during that time.
Murray wasted little time in getting onto the field, logging snaps in all 13 games as a true freshman, albeit mostly on special teams. He emerged as a starter as a true sophomore in 2013 and never looked back, recording 187 tackles, 24 pass breakups, five forced fumbles, two interceptions and two blocked kicks over his career, earning All-Big-Ten accolades after each of his starting seasons.
Perhaps because he doesn't possess the glitzy interception numbers, Murray hasn't often been touted as a top cornerback prospect. His steady tape, however, argues otherwise. It was Murray and not his more heralded teammate Boddy-Calhoun, for example, who was given the Carl Eller Award in 2015 as the team's best overall defender, as well as being named the Gophers' best defensive back of the year.
STRENGTHS: While perhaps lacking top ballskills, Murray, who lines up as the boundary corner, is very well-rounded with good size, speed and physicality for the position. He possesses a well-built, NFL-ready frame with good size, broad shoulders, length and muscular development. Plays with a pro's mentality, showing confidence in coverage as well as in run support. Murray is well-versed in press, off and zone coverages, showing off his versatility as a reliable run defender and blitzer. He seems to enjoy the physicality of the game, lowering his shoulder and bringing his hips to deliver forceful hits to ball-carriers. Murray shows the time he's spent in the film room, diagnosing routes and quickly reacting to pick plays and quick screens. Doesn't panic when the ball is in the air, snaking his hand between those of the would-be receiver to rip the ball free. Voted a team captain in 2015 and was highly touted by the coaching staff and his teammates for his commitment on and off the field.null