CB Byron Murphy saw signs hometown Cardinals could draft him

Apr 26, 2019, 6:08 PM | Updated: Apr 27, 2019, 9:54 am
Byron Murphy #1 of the Washington Huskies looks on between plays against the California Golden Bear...
Byron Murphy #1 of the Washington Huskies looks on between plays against the California Golden Bears at California Memorial Stadium on October 27, 2018 in Berkeley, California. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
(Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

TEMPE, Ariz. — There were signs that Byron Murphy’s football career would land him not far from home, well before the Arizona Cardinals drafted him 33rd overall in the 2019 NFL Draft.

For one, he already had a Cardinals jersey. He got his name stitched on the back of one as a Saguaro High School student who won the Cardinals’ high school player of the year award his senior season.

“Ever since then, I was like, man, I want to play for the Cardinals,” Murphy said Friday, admitting he couldn’t stop pacing with excitement while on the phone with reporters.

Then there was what transpired Friday morning.

An Arizona scout called Murphy to check in with him before the Cardinals led off the second round of the draft. He wasn’t guaranteed to be selected by the hometown team at that point, but it gave him the hope sitting through an emotional first round a day earlier would be worth it.

“That call kind of had it in the back of my mind I could be a Cardinal. This whole day I’ve been emotional thinking about the whole being a part of the Birdgang,” Murphy said.

The Cardinals began expressing interest in Murphy early on in the draft process. As a redshirt sophomore at Washington, the 5-foot-11, 190-pound defensive back recorded 58 tackles, four for loss. He added four picks and 13 passes defensed and a forced fumble, playing bigger than his frame.

It made sense Arizona would be interested. With Budda Baker, a fellow Washington product, presumed to be moving to free safety after playing in the box last season, the slot corner spot looks like an open competition.

Murphy said he will be comfortable contributing at nickel, outside corner and on special teams. Alongside corners Patrick Peterson and the recently-signed Robert Alford, he will challenge David Amerson, Tramaine Brock and others for the third cornerback role.

Outside the team, at least, there’s also wonder whether Murphy could play an even bigger role.

Peterson’s absence from voluntary mini-camp on draft week reportedly was a result of unhappiness from the eight-time Pro Bowl corner, according to 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station’s John Gambadoro. He remains on the roster, however, and not long ago spoke with Murphy, giving the then-draft prospect advice.

“I watched him growing up. Always watched his footwork, always watched his technique,” Murphy said. “Now that I have the opportunity to play with him, I’m going to pick his brain as much as I can.”

Murphy was the second defensive back off the board and his selection by Arizona began a run of DBs taken in the early second round.

His first round expectations didn’t matter so much on Friday.

Based on the video evidence of Murphy’s draft party in Arizona — fellow Saguaro product and current Cardinals receiver Christian Kirk was by his side — it was worth the wait.

“I’m not upset. It was emotional, like I said. I knew my time was coming. Just kept faith. I knew God had a plan for me,” Murphy said, circling back to one of those times he thought about not just dressing, but playing in a Cardinals jersey.

“… I just felt like if I was going to be a Cardinal,”  he said, “it would be the best day of my life. Today — man. Man.”


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