What if I told you that North Carolina State has produced the most NFL Draft picks in the ACC over the last two years? Would you believe me? Surely Clemson with all their success boasts that honor, right? Nope. With 11 players drafted over that span, NC State leads the way.
Looking ahead to the 2020 Draft, the Wolfpack once again features several draft-worthy prospects and one of my personal favorites is senior defensive tackle Larrell Murchison.
A transfer from Louisburg College in 2017, Murchison redshirted the year NC State saw its entire starting defensive line get drafted (Bradley Chubb, BJ Hill, Justin Jones and Kentavius Street). Murchison took over as a starter in 2018, earning the Carey Brewbaker Award that is given to the Wolfpack Defensive Lineman of the Year and the Alpha Rising Award that is presented to NC State’s overall most improved player.
Starting all 13 games at defensive tackle for the Wolfpack in 2018, the 6-foot-3, 291-pound junior registered 33 tackles, 8 tackles for loss, four sacks, two pass breakups and intercepted a pass. I recently studied Murchison’s redshirt junior season and found game tape that is littered with potential as a penetration-style interior defensive linemen in the NFL. Let’s examine.
Murchison’s most dominant outing last season was against Virginia, a contest in which he recorded four tackles for loss and three sacks. Toying with the Cavs' interior offensive linemen, Murchison lived in the backfield and racked up splash plays.
Getting out of his stance in concert with the snap of the ball, Murchison sets up this sack with footwork the complements his hand technique. A hard inside jab step in unison with a hand swipe from his outside hand initially greases the rush angle. Murchison turns the cross-swim combination into a one-arm stab to keep the blockers hands away from his frame and powers through the gap to finish.
Murchison’s best moments come when he is able to penetrate the line of scrimmage and serve as a wrecking ball on the interior. When used in that capacity, Murchison’s athleticism, play strength and motor are maximized. Take this rep for example.
Initially winning this snap with quickness, Murchison shoots the A-gap with a rip move and gets into the backfield. But notice how he controls his speed, finds the football and works back across his frame to finish. From burst, functional strength and hand technique to body control, instincts and effort, there are a lot of traits on display.
You may have noticed in the fourth paragraph that I mentioned Murchison recorded an interception last season and it was a thing of beauty. Selling his initial rush to disguise his drop in coverage, Murchison charges hard and springs back into his pedal. Gaining depth, Murchison is quickly greeted with the football and secures the takeaway. While its easy to say the ball was thrown right at him, don’t be a grinch and appreciate what it took for Murchison to pull this off. We have a near 300-pound man completely changing directions, moving backwards and catching a football thrown with pace less than 10 yards away from him all a matter of roughly 3-4 seconds.
During his first season in Raleigh, Murchison showcased the flashes of a playmaking force for the Wolfpack. Entering 2019, Murchison is expected to be one of the best defensive tackles in the ACC. According to Pro Football Focus, Murchison is the second highest graded returning inside pass rusher.
In an NFL that is placing a premium on interior penetration, Murchison has the juice, play strength, motor and flashes of technique needed to make a name for himself. Get him on your 2020 Draft radar because he has the traits that the NFL is looking for from the defensive tackle position.