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PFF names Texas star, NFL Combine standout as ‘ideal’ first pick for Seahawks

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By: Mookie Alexander

Photo by Nick Tre. Smith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

This isn’t quite a mock draft, but it is a recommendation to address the trenches.

The Seattle Seahawks have not spent a lot of early-round draft capital on interior defensive linemen over the past couple of decades. They’ve not selected a defensive tackle in the opening round since Marcus Tubbs in 2004 (!!), and their only second-round DTs during that span are Jarran Reed and Malik McDowell.

After another sub-standard performance by Seattle’s defensive line, it’s a possibility that the Seahawks will break a long-standing trend and invest deep in the trenches in the first round of this year’s NFL Draft.

Pro Football Focus has something that isn’t quite a mock draft, but might as well be. Instead, it’s the “ideal” player for every team based on needs and available draft resources. For the Seahawks, the emphasis was on the interior of both sides of the ball, but the “ideal” pick is on defense.

Goal: Add reinforcements inside

Ideal first pick: DT Byron Murphy II, Texas

The Seahawks currently aren’t physical enough in the trenches to compete with the league’s premier contenders. Until they can consistently pass protect on offense and find some semblance of success in run defense, they will be at a disadvantage.

Texas’ Byron Murphy II seems like a perfect fit for Seattle. He’s considered the best all-around defensive tackle in the 2024 class, having led the nation in pass-rush grade in 2023. New head coach Mike Macdonald will aim to bring the same physical nature to his defense as he successfully did in Baltimore.

Interior offensive line help is also desperately needed for a team that finished 2023 in the bottom five in pass-blocking grade. The Seahawks should have their eyes on just about any interior prospect between the second and fifth rounds to shore up their pass protection.

Murphy has met with the Seahawks already at the NFL Combine.

Here’s a look at his Relative Athletic Score for his position.

Unlike T’Vondre Sweat, his former Longhorns teammate who weighs 366 lbs, Murphy is considered undersized at just 6’0 12 and 297 pounds. That didn’t stop him from winning Big XII Defensive Lineman of the Year and first-team honors in his conference for the 2023 season.

Here’s an overview of Murphy as a prospect in Blogging the Boys’ Mike Poland’s scouting report:

There’s absolutely every chance that Byron Murphy goes off the board as the first defensive linemen in this year’s draft. He has the skills and versatility to play anywhere on the line from nose tackle to five-technique and be successful in the NFL. Based on just his explosiveness and strength alone, he should get instant results in his rookie season.

But Murphy does need coaching in order to get an understanding that in the NFL his power and acceleration will only take him so far. He has a solid set of pass rush moves and his swim move is by far his best tool to win now. But he needs to learn when to hold his ground and when to shoot the gaps. His biggest issue will be related to scheme. Due to his size and style of play, Murphy needs to play on an even front to offer him every chance of being hat-on-hat with an offensive lineman. He just lacks the bulk to play as defensive tackle on an odd front where he would lose the parts of his game that makes him special and get bogged down by double-team blocks.

His ability to recognize the play, establish a plan and deconstruct the opposition with his hands and explosiveness makes him an exciting player that all defensive coordinators will want to unleash. Murphy is set to have a productive career in the NFL and make a Pro Bowl early on.


A shorter Larry Ogunjobi, Pittsburgh Steelers


Early second-round/late-first-round grade

My one pause here is the line about Murphy needing to play in an even front. I don’t know if he’ll be a schematic fit under Mike Macdonald. Murphy would most likely have to be a five-technique lined up against offensive tackles in a 3-4 alignment.

Check out some of his highlights below.

Originally posted on Field Gulls