New ‘surprise’ NFL Draft prospect emerges for Falcons top pick


We are now a week away from the NFL Draft, and the consensus theme for the Falcons is an edge rusher, most commonly Dallas Turner in mock drafts.

Atlanta has had struggles sacking opposing quarterbacks, an issue that’s persisted for over a decade. With Turner, Raheem Morris would get an athletic specimen that he could mold into a premier pass rusher.

It’s become like beating a dead horse, though. Every single draft pundit has the Falcons taking Dallas Turner, so here’s some new information for you, courtesy of NFL insider Daniel Jeremiah.

“If you ask me who the surprise top 10 pick, or who is someone that we just didn’t see coming, that’s Byron Murphy,” Jeremiah said in response to a question from D. Orlando Ledbetter about Laiatu Latu’s medical concerns.

Now, that’s a name we haven’t seen too often, and there’s good reason for that. With Grady Jarrett and David Onyemata in the fold, the Falcons certainly don’t have a need for another interior defender, but it would be foolish to pretend it’s an impossibility.

“It’s a league that’s placed an ever more premium on defensive tackle. I was talking to a general manager this morning and I said when you look around the league and we ask ‘Who are the true impact dominant defensive tackles?’ Maybe seven or eight of them. Edge rushers, it goes a lot deeper than that,” DJ added.

Want to know why the league considers interior defenders a premium position? Offensive guards are now being paid like tackles. Look no further than Chris Lindstrom, who the Falcons made the highest-paid player at his position last offseason.

The offensive guard market has exploded, and it’s clear why — it’s more difficult than ever to block interior defenders. The Falcons don’t have a need for one, but that hasn’t stopped Terry Fontenot before.

Atlanta’s GM has talked ad nauseam about the best player available draft strategy, and he’s put his money where his mouth is too. Fontenot turned a lot of heads when he selected Bijan Robinson last year with Jalen Carter still on the board and a record-breaking runner in Tyler Allgeier under contract. We shouldn’t rule Byron Murphy out.

“Even though everyone’s looking, and the sack issues they’ve [Falcons] had, and them needing an edge rusher, I wouldn’t totally just rule out Murphy there they could at least be interested in.”

The Texas product ironically resembles Grady Jarrett in many ways. Murphy makes up for his lack of size (297 pounds, just under 6-foot-1) with elite athleticism and his understanding of leverage, similar to Jarrett.

The Falcons would still need to add to the edge unit, but Jimmy Lake could get quite creative with his packages if Atlanta drafted Murphy to pair with Jarrett and Onyemata. I certainly don’t hate it.

Photographer: Christopher Leduc/Icon Sportswire
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