Jake Murphy went to the University of Utah after initially going for a baseball career out of high school, signing with BYU when he came out in 2007. Ultimately, ended up on the Utes football team, redshirting in 2010 and then playing the past three years as a tight end and H-back, who was a decent blocker but a far more dangerous receiving threat. Murphy suffered a broken wrist in the October 3rd game against UCLA, had surgery, missed four weeks and came back ahead of schedule to play in the last three games, which were his most productive of the season, catching 4 touchdowns on 15 catches. In no small part because of his age, he opted to declare after this past season.
For the NFL, Murphy is a primary receiving threat that has the ability to help as a blocker if he commits to it. He has shown terrific hands, can get open and catch the ball in traffic. Additional strength would help him in blocking, but it looks secondary in terms of his focus as a player. Murphy is also 24 and will turn 25 this season, but that should not have a significant impact on his draft status. He warrants a third day pick as an H-back and complementary tight end that can play in a joker role.
Vitals & Build
Murphy measured 6’4” 249lbs at the scouting combine with 31 ¾” arms and 10” hands. He is a fluid athlete with solid straight line speed but better quickness and change of direction skills. His strength is solid but needs to continue improving. His potential is in how much stronger he can get without impacting his fluidity and overall athleticism.
Route Running & Technique
Murphy’s stance is a little unorthodox from a two-point stance, but he is able to fire off of the ball decently. His release from a three-point stance is relatively clean.
Much of the round tree Murphy ran for Utah works off of straight lines and adjustments from a head of steam, whether it is working down the field or laterally into the flat. He has enough speed to cause problems down the field and get into the flat effectively.
Murphy really excels when it comes to planting his foot in the ground and releasing into in and out routes. He shows a good amount of strength in his ability to explode off of that foot, comes off cleanly and is smooth in how he bends around the opponent.
On the other hand, Murphy can be far clunkier when it comes to comebacks and hitch type routes. He tends to turn his head before his body and slide into place, which is backwards as far as selling the route and actually gives the opponent an early indication of what is coming.
From a skillset standpoint, Murphy has the body control, footwork and quickness to be a good route runner and should only get better with experience. He may tends to work from an H-back position, so he may need to prove he can get off of the line of scrimmage and beat opponents off of the line of scrimmage as opposed to getting a free release for teams that want to use him inline.
Murphy has impressive hands and his experience in baseball really has benefited his hand eye coordination. He is able to snatch the ball out of the air pretty effortlessly and does a nice job framing the ball. Where he really stands out though is how he seems able to catch the ball while absorbing contact, showing the ability to concentrate on the football as well as strong hands.
Murphy shows a nice catch radius and is able to get to a lot of passes. His hips are fluid enough where he can contort his body and reach out to catch passes at awkward angles. Murphy also anticipates the ball out of his cuts well and is able to adjust quickly, find the ball and react effectively to make the catch.
Run After Catch
Murphy is a pretty good threat after the catch. A lot of the passes thrown to him are in positions where he is either going down the field or in crossing patterns, so he can plant his foot in the ground and keep going up the field. He is not an overwhelming speed threat and is not likely to make opponents miss but he catches the ball without having to slow down much to make the play.
Murphy is not someone who is likely to make much after the catch when he had to come back to the ball and facing the line of scrimmage.
Murphy can block, but it just looks like something he has to do rather than something he wants to do. He tends to block high, does not do a great job of getting behind his pads and work angles. Mostly, he would do just enough to try to prevent his man from making the play.
From an H-back position, he can have some trouble hitting a moving target and needs to settle in space to avoid overrunning the block. If he can sink his hips better and work the inside shoulder better, then he can work leverage better and get more out of his strength.
It is up to teams to decide how much of this is due to that broken wrist and how much is simply how much he wants to be a good blocker. The fact that he came back this season is notable in itself and in doing so, he may have been somewhat compromised in how much he could do in terms of the wrist. Nevertheless, he does need to prove he can be a better blocker, but if he can, he can be a full service player at the next level and really have a good amount of potential.
Murphy has experience as a blocker on kick returns, but again, he gets out as much as he puts in, which can really vary from play to play.
Murphy’s best fit is as a role player including an H-back and joker in the slot, but he absolutely can be an inline player if he can get stronger and work harder as a blocker. He looks like someone who can come in immediately and contribute as someone who can go out and catch passes and move the chains as well as being a red zone threat.
If he puts in the effort to get stronger and work to get better as a blocker, he has the potential to be a full service tight end, but should at least be a role player right out of the gate.
Murphy has a lot of the same skills that Charles Clay had coming out of Tulsa, which has allowed him to be a terrific sixth round pick for the Miami Dolphins. He had the same type of build and skillset that Murphy has, though the key difference is that Clay has three years of NFL experience and is only 7 months older than Murphy. Nevertheless, a team that wants to use Murphy in that same type of capacity could be extremely helpful to a team.
Jake Murphy has some impressive skills that should allow him to be a nice role player in the NFL. He makes the most of his athleticism, gets open, and catches the ball really well. His blocking is mediocre and needs to get substantially better to fully realize his potential, which may come down to how much teams put on the wrist injury. He can help a team as a player that can be moved around the offense from the backfield to the slot to potentially inline. Murphy warrants a third day pick and could be an immediate contributor for the team that gets him. If he can become a better blocker, he could prove to be a steal in the draft.
Some of the film used in this scouting breakdown was provided by the good folks at draftbreakdown.com