Vikings Again Linked to Intriguing Defensive Prospect

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The Minnesota Vikings currently hold the 11th overall pick in the upcoming draft. Because of the potential departure of Kirk Cousins, the QB job is vacant for the upcoming season. Many view the franchise as a wonderful spot for a rookie QB because of the receiving corps and the offensive-minded head coach.

Vikings Again Linked to Intriguing Defensive Prospect

Vikings Again Linked to Intriguing Defensive Prospect
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General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah could encounter the problem that his draft slot is likely out of reach to get one of the three top passers Caleb Williams, Drake Maye, and Jayden Daniels, and even J.J. McCarthy is rising draft boards past that number.

If he can’t acquire one of those guys, finding some help for Brian Flores’ defense is a solid alternative. The defensive coach would perhaps like the addition to his front seven with openings at the edge rushing spots and across the defensive line.

in Particular Rookie
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One name that keeps swirling around is Byron Murphy II, a defensive tackle from Texas. He was an integral part of the defense that helped the Longhorns return to relevancy and even a trip to the postseason.

Analyst Tony Pauline, who has reported from the Senior Bowl that he is hearing Murphy would be a candidate for the Vikings in the first round, repeated that sentiment on X:

Byron Murphy/DT/Texas, was the most physically impressive defender this morning during the NFL Combine media session. I’m told he already has 25 official meetings here in Indy. Still hearing the
Vikings at 11.

Tony Pauline

Murphy is an intriguing player because of his athletic profile, which is expected to turn some heads at the draft combine, and because the Vikings desperately need help in the trenches.

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They employ only three defensive linemen. Besides Harrison Phillips, the other two are 2023 rookie Jaquelin Roy and last year’s free agent signing Dean Lowry. Neither of those two is more than a placeholder at this point. The front needs another difference-maker.

Well, enter Murphy. He was listed at Texas at 6’1″ and 308 lbs. He combines quickness and strength to build a phenomenal player up front in both run stop and pass rush.

Lance Zierlein, a draft analyst for NFL.com, posted a promising summary about the prospect:

Muscular ball of explosiveness with the tools and talent to become a productive three-down defender in the right scheme. Twitchy first-step quickness combined with flexion and power in his lower half create a recipe for disruption as a gap shooter or as a pass rusher. Murphy is powerful and well-schooled at taking on double-teams but lacks ideal mass and length for that role long-term.

He’s successful at bypassing protection with sudden hands and quick feet, while his motor and passion create an activity level coaches will love. Forget the average physical traits and modest production and focus on his competitive spirit and disruptive qualities. Murphy is ascending and could become a successful nose tackle or 3-technique in an even front.

Lance Zierlein
Texas defensive lineman Byron Murphy II (90) defends against Iowa State offensive lineman Jim Bonifas (63) and Iowa State quarterback Rocco Becht (3) in the second half of the Longhorns’ game against the Cyclones at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames, Iowa, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2023. Texas won the game 26-16.

Murphy tabulated 5 sacks in 2023 to go along with 8.5 tackles for loss and 29 total tackles. His production is indeed a little shaky, although it should be noted that there is a massive upside as he is just 21 years old, and linemen need time to grow into their roles. Playing on a dominant team and defensive line also hurt his numbers.

Daniel Jeremiah was the first to send him to Minnesota in a mock draft in January before the defender rocketed up draft boards.

If the Vikings fail to get the quarterback they identify as their guy, adding a potential difference-maker up front is undoubtedly a good approach. Flores needs more talent to work his magic, and Murphy can provide that.


Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt

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