Kenneth Murray would be a great fit for the Kansas City Chiefs defense

DALLAS, TEXAS - OCTOBER 12: Kenneth Murray #9 of the Oklahoma Sooners during the 2019 AT&T Red River Showdown at Cotton Bowl on October 12, 2019 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
DALLAS, TEXAS - OCTOBER 12: Kenneth Murray #9 of the Oklahoma Sooners during the 2019 AT&T Red River Showdown at Cotton Bowl on October 12, 2019 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /
2 of 3
Oklahoma linebacker Kenneth Murray
Oklahoma linebacker Kenneth Murray (Photo by Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images) /

Kenneth Murray scouting report

A three-year starter for the Sooners defense, Murray was a versatile weapon and captain of the defense for two seasons. As a freshman in 2017, Murray made the Freshman All-American and co-Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year. He followed that up in 2018 with a Second-Team All-Big 12. In 2019, Murray was awarded First-Team All-Big 12 and third-team All-American.

Standing at 6’2″, 241 pounds, the first thing that jumps off the screen when reviewing Murray is his sideline-to-sideline range. Whether playing against the run or pass, Murray displays the ability to read and react, beating ball carriers to the boundary. It’s rare for a player of his size to possess the explosiveness and lateral agility that he displayed at Oklahoma.

Vs. the Run

Murray displays the physicality and speed needed to fill gaps either between the tackles or scraping across the line of scrimmage (LOS) to the boundary. He shows a good ability to diagnose and close quickly on ball carriers behind or at the LOS. Utilizing that explosiveness and downhill speed, Murray consistently beat blockers to their assignments. He showed good play strength and length to split gaps to create instant havoc in the backfield.

In the play above, Murray does an excellent job of working down the LOS to not allow the running back to get to the boundary. The tight end immediately climbs, looking to perform a reach block on him to create a running lane for the back. Unfortunately for him, Murray was not only too fast to get outside, but he also didn’t allow the tight end to square up against him to fully engage, leaving Murray’s outside arm free. As the running back broke further outside, Murray disengaged from his blocker, beat the running back to the boundary and forced him out of bounds.

Playing to the boundary was often where Murray had the most success. Against runs between the tackles, he would play more of a passive role waiting for the ball carrier to get to him on plays where he’s not asked to blitz. Climbing blockers were often a problem for Murray when playing this role as he was unable to shed and pushed off of his gap consistently. It would also force him to attack with a high pad level leading to missed tackles.

When Murray was tasked with filling gaps in a more aggressive play call, he had no problem bringing the thunder downhill. When coming downhill against the run, he displayed good push against blockers. As a versatile weapon, Murray also lined up on the edge in lighter packages. He showed the ability to set a hard edge using his explosive first step and length, forcing running backs inside toward the rest of the defense.

While the play above was on a passing down, you can see the apparent ability to set the edge and the competitiveness that he brings on every play to chase down the quarterback for a sack. His closing speed is very impressive, which limits extra yardage. Baylor’s offense resulted around rolling the pocket in his direction, and his ability to set a hard edge completely wrecked the entire play.

Vs. the pass

In pass coverage, Murray was rarely tasked with carrying tight ends or receivers vertically. Given his hip fluidity and speed, he proved solid when he was asked to stick with his man. He also was solid carrying in man coverage against slot receivers and tight ends in short to intermediate areas of the field. One area that gives him a significant bump for Chiefs fans is his ability to carry running backs in man coverage out of the backfield.

Playing mostly zone coverage at Oklahoma, Murray utilized his length and range to take away the middle of the field. He displayed a good understanding of route concepts to jump routes. Exceptionally quick at diagnosing screens, he often blew the play up behind the line of scrimmage.

One area that would benefit Murray to improve is his angles to the ball carrier. Without the ability to drop his hips and come to a stop quickly, he often ends up leaning forward, resulting in him flowing too far outside. It happens at times when scrapping across the line of scrimmage against the run as well, leaving cut back lanes for running backs. In this next clip, Murray makes the play thanks to his length, but it’s clear the receiver is coming across the middle, and Murray still takes an angle sending him nearly past the receiver. Great read and react, but he needs to work on this area of his game.

While Murray does a good job of reading the quarterback in zone coverage, he can get caught with his eyes in the backfield for too long. It was very apparent when running backs came out of the backfield running a simple out route, and Murray allowed easy separation for a quick catch for a small gain. His diagnosis in coverage has improved each season at Oklahoma, so it should be an area he can continue to grow. His athleticism made up for it most of the time to limit the back to small gains. Misdirection from jet sweeps and play-action fakes give Murray some trouble as well.

As previously mentioned, Murray does a great job when tasked to blitz from several alignments. While he sets a hard edge, he also gave offensive tackles problems coming around the edge on passing downs. Often beating the tackle to his set points forced blockers off-balance, leading them to reach. Murray does a good job of keeping his frame clean by dipping his shoulder with some slight bend around the edge and close on the quarterback.

With Spagnuolo and defensive line coach Brendan Daly looking to consistently bring pressure from different areas and perform stunts/twists, Murray could benefit there as a pass rusher as well. He shows the athleticism to loop around to the A gap here. His speed mixed with the ability to get skinny create nightmares for offensive linemen when they cannot square up.

Lastly, Murray was often tasked with playing as a quarterback spy against mobile quarterbacks. Against Texas, he made several plays from this role, including this next clip. Slowly walking down toward the line of scrimmage outside of the right tackle, Murray sees Sam Elhinger wanting to extend the play by rolling left. Murray breaks across the field, showing off that sideline-to-sideline range putting a good hit on him before he can get the ball out.