Effective offensive linemen in the NFL are always a hot commodity. While guard and center have lower value with teams than tackle, there is little doubt that all positions are the pistons that drive an offensive engine.
The Cincinnati Bengals have built one of the better offensive lines in the league of late, blending a bit of athleticism with a ton of nastiness and strength, which is needed in the tough AFC North. Marvin Lewis' line is in a bit of transition in 2016 with Cedric Ogbuehi seeming to be in line for the starting right tackle job in 2016, while Jake Fisher is chomping at the bit for more playing time. With Kevin Zeitler's future with the club also being cloudy after 2016, versatile players who can play multiple spots up front always grab offensive line coach Paul Alexander's eye.
Enter Stanford's Kyle Murphy, a physical youngster with high character and football IQ. Much of Stanford's success in Jim Harbaugh's days and up to Brian Shaw's tenure reside in the team's physicality up front, and their unending willingness to pound the ball. Sure, the Cardinal can throw it around, but beating an opponent into submission by running the ball has been key, and Murphy was a big part of that dating back to his true freshman days. Depending on where he lands, Murphy should have a bright future in the NFL, but maybe I'm biased because he's my second cousin.
Height/Weight: 6'6", 308 Pounds
Murphy has been nursing a quad injury this offseason, so he only did the bench press at the Combine and drills at his Pro Day. Gil Brandt of NFL.com noted his good work on March 21st in those drills.)
Draft Projection: 3-6
Strengths: Murphy looks and often plays the part of an NFL tackle on his college tape. His overall build and tenacity at the point of attack earns his reputation as a Stanford mauler on the offensive line. He is an intelligent player with solid character and good bloodlines, as his older brother Kevin was with the Vikings recently. Though he's a "pile-mover", he shows great anticipation as a tackle to hold up well in pass protection. While Murphy has played the role of tackle at Stanford, he was also a frequenter in the "jumbo package" early in his college career, making him well-versed in a number of responsibilities.
Weaknesses: While he plays the part of a tackle on college film, some scouts worry if his athleticism at the next level will allow him to be an effective enough player against some of the elite pass-rushing threats--especially on the edge at either tackle position. Most project him as either a right tackle or a guard at the next level, but his arm length and build should serve him well at either spot.
Overview: Aside from mocks and breakdowns, part of the draft season includes contradictions. With Murphy, many believe he isn't athletic to be an NFL left tackle, yet they believe he has the versatility to play right tackle and/or inside. If surrounded by a solid supporting cast, as he was at Stanford in his four years there, Murphy has a shot to be a very good left guard and/or a solid right tackle in the pros. Whoever drafts him will need to work with him a little bit on his footwork technique, but they'll be getting a sound, smart player with a good background.