When the Redskins drafted Trent Murphy in the second round this year they did not have an immediate starting job for him. The outside linebacker spots are capably handled by Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan. It appears that Murphy’s role will be that of a role player and super sub.
“Trent's done a great job,” said Jay Gruden. “He's played both sides, he's played in nickel situations, he's played with the three technique, he's stood up and moved around. So Trent's done an outstanding job and I see him all the time in the film room watching practice. He's very aware of what his role is and what it's going to be and he wants to study it and be the best at it.”
Murphy’s ability to move around in the defense shows that he is flexible in that sense of the word. According to outside linebackers coach Brian Baker, he also is flexible in another way.
“For a tall guy, he has a unique ability to bend,” said Baker. “As we look at players through the draft, at least since I’ve been in the league, I think that’s probably the most common denominator, and I’ve been blessed to be around a lot of good players, the ability to bend.
“Height, weight, speed—I’ve seen slow guys hit the quarterback. It’s their ability to bend, to change their angle, their body to adjust to what the offense is giving them in a split second, that ability flex, to be flexible. And that’s what he has for a big man that’s is really unique, more so than we’ve even seen on film. And he knows how to use those things, which is good.”
Murphy certainly is smart enough to learn the particulars of each of the roles he is being asked to fill. He received his degree from Stanford last December. But he still has a lot of work to do.
“So he's got a long way to go, there's no question about it, but the amount of work that he puts into practice and in the games, I think he's going to get there a lot quicker than a normal person,” said Gruden.
The 3-13 Redskins drew fire from some fans and analysts for using their second-round pick on a player who plays a position of relative strength for the team and is unlikely to start in 2014. Even if he doesn’t start it is important for Murphy to make a contribution this season. It looks like he is off to a good start.