Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy wanted big guys.
And he got big guys during the NFL draft – two defensive linemen and two offensive linemen, capped by the final pick, Stanford offensive tackle Kyle Murphy in the sixth round.
Murphy (6-6 3/8, 305 pounds), whose brother, Kevin, had a shot with the Vikings, was a two-year starter for the Cardinal. He was an all-Pac-12 second-team selection as a junior, when he played right tackle, and a first-team choice as a senior, when he moved over to left tackle.
Given his track record at a high-powered program, Murphy didn’t expect to be selection No. 200 of the draft. But getting picked by the Packers made the wait worthwhile.
“Obviously, you want to have your name called as soon as possible,” Murphy said. “You always try to be positive about it. Getting the call from the Packers was quite extraordinary, was quite unbelievable – just getting one of the best organizations in the game to call you and say they’re using a draft pick to pick you was just so (great). It was definitely worth the wait. I can’t wait to get to work and start this thing going.”
Where Murphy and second-round pick Jason Spriggs ultimately fit on the Packers’ offensive line will be determined over the next year. Three of Green Bay’s starting offensive linemen – left tackle David Bakhtiari, left guard Josh Sitton and right guard T.J. Lang – are scheduled to become free agents at the end of the 2016 season. Ditto for top backups J.C. Tretter and Don Barclay. So, the need for starting-caliber offensive linemen is obvious. Just who stays and who goes among the veterans, and how Spriggs and Murphy will help fill whatever holes emerge, is anyone’s guess. For the short term, the Packers appear to be in much better position to handle injuries up front compared to late-season losses to Arizona and Minnesota, when Barclay and Sitton were forced to move to left tackle to replace Bakhtiari.
“It’s a big man’s game,” McCarthy said. “When you get into a season, when you look at challenges that you have during the season, you have to make sure you take care of things up front. We have a very good offensive and defensive line. I think just the way the draft board laid out in the numbers of potential prospects there, this was definitely an opportunity to take advantage of that and we were fortunate to get two offensive linemen and two defensive linemen.”
Murphy said “60 to 70 percent” of teams saw him as an offensive tackle, with the rest viewing him as a guard. General manager Ted Thompson, who typically drafts left tackles and then lets the coaches shuffle them around depending on skill and need, said Murphy would start off at tackle.
It was a position at which he was effective. According to STATS via Real Football, Murphy allowed three sacks and 13 additional pressures as a senior. Murphy was our 10th-ranked offensive tackle. Of those 10, he finished eighth in pressures allowed. ProFootballFocus.com said “no one has a higher floor than Murphy” among the top tier of offensive tackle prospects. PFF said Murphy will develop into a starter but needs to get stronger.
And that’s what Murphy’s been working on since his season ended with a bowl game and the Senior Bowl. He was listed at 301 pounds by the Cardinal and was 305 at the Senior Bowl. On Saturday, he said he was up to 308.
“I’ve just been trying to get physically stronger and bigger, just really spending a lot of time in the weight room,” he said. “I really came into Stanford as one of those lighter, more athletic offensive linemen, so I’ve really been spending a lot of time just developing overall power and strength. And then along those same lines, on the flip side, trying to get my foot speed up. I think to the core I have pretty solid fundamentals in both the run game and the pass game, but I think there’s a few things I could polish up that could really skyrocket me to the potential I can achieve.”
Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PackerReport.