The Los Angeles Chargers had two first-round picks in this year’s draft. With their initial one, they took a quarterback of the future. With the second they acquired in trade, they selected a potential defensive anchor in Oklahoma linebacker Kenneth Murray. Here are Murray’s odds at Mybookie to win 2020 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year as well as the Chargers’ over/under win total.
Murray was a four-star recruit out of Texas, which recruited him hard by lost out to Oklahoma. In 2017, Murray became first true freshman to start a season opener at inside linebacker for OU since 1975 and finished with three tackles versus UTEP. He would go on to be named co-Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year and All-Big 12 Honorable Mention by the league’s coaches. He started all 14 games and ranked second on team with 78 tackles.
In 2018, Murray was named second-team All-Big 12. He started all 14 games and led team with 155 total tackles (most by a Sooner since 2007). Murray ranked second in Big 12 and 13th in nation by averaging 11.1 tackles per game and had nine games of double-digit tackles. In one game, he had an insane 28 tackles vs. Army to earn national player of the week honors. The 28 tackles were most in FBS since at least 2000 and second most in school history.
Then last year, Murray was first-team All-Big 12 and third-team All-American as well as a semifinalist for Bednarik and Butkus Awards. He started all 14 games and led team with 102 tackles and 17 tackles for loss (tied for 19th nationally). Murray also had 4.0 sacks (for a loss of 32 yards), four pass breakups and five quarterback hurries.
Murray finished his three-year career with 335 tackles and 37.0 tackles for loss. He is tied for 11th in school history in career tackles (ninth among linebackers) and ranks eighth at OU in career sacks by a linebacker (9.5).
The Chargers dealt the Nos. 37 and 71 picks to the Patriots to come up 14 spots for Murray and grab him at No. 23 overall. NFL.com gave Murray a 6.44 rating; a 6.5 is a boom-or-bust prospect while a 6.4 is a player who will be a starter within his first two seasons.
While many linebackers slim down for the NFL Scouting Combine, allowing them to run faster, Murray held his playing weight — 241 pounds — and ran the 40-yard dash in 4.5 seconds to place among the top 10 percent of linebackers in the draft class.
The team believes it got both punishing defender and future leader. Murray (6-foot-2, 241 pounds) was the first linebacker selected in Round 1 by the Chargers since Larry English in 2009. He joins a linebacking corps that includes Drue Tranquill, Denzel Perryman, Kyzir White, Uchenna Nwosu and newly signed Nick Vigil, among others.
“This is a run-hit linebacker,” head coach Anthony Lynn said. “He can do the things we need him to do in coverage and also in the run game. He can play in the box, he can play in space. But this man’s intangibles, his presence when he walks into a room – he’s just a natural-born leader and I love that he’s passionate about this game. It just comes through in the interview process that I had with him.”
Murray believes playing in practice against former OU quarterbacks like Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray (both won the Heisman) and Jalen Hurts can only help him.
“That’s pushed me a lot, playing against the guys at Oklahoma on the offensive end,” Murray said. “It’s definitely made me a better player.”