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2024 NFL Draft

Anonymous Scout Thinks Byron Murphy is Casey Hampton 2.0

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Pittsburgh Steelers Byron Murphy

Offensive tackle, center and wide receiver are the most glaring needs for the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2024 NFL Draft, but defensive line is also a sneaky top priority. With Cam Heyward turning 35 in May and Larry Ogunjobi having a down year last season, it can’t be overlooked.

CBS Sports draft analyst Ryan Wilson thinks Texas defensive lineman Byron Murphy would be a can’t miss selection for the Pittsburgh Steelers if he’s available at 20th overall.

“If he’s there at 20? The Steelers should knock over anyone in their way to take him,” Wilson said during an interview with Joe Starkey on 93.7 The Fan. “Is it a glaring need? No, but Cam Heyward’s not gonna play forever. Keeanu Benton did a really good job as a rookie last year. The thing with Byron is he weighs about 292 and he played next to T’Vondre Sweat, who weighs 360. They had Byron playing over center at times last year at Texas, but he’ll play more likely over the guard or in the A or B gap and be a guy who creates all sorts of problems.

“He can consistently win versus double teams. And to your point, if you’re collapsing the pocket, it makes things a lot easier for guys named T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith. He’s a special player.”

Longtime reporter and draft analyst Bob McGinn thinks Murphy and fellow Longhorn T’Vondre Sweat shows shades of former Steelers nose tackle Casey Hampton and former Detroit Lions defensive tackle Shaun Rogers. Hampton and Rogers were a dynamic defensive tackle du0 for the Texas Longhorns in the late 1990s, early 2000s.

“The combination of Murphy, the hard-charging 3-technique, and the massive, talented, troubled Sweat is reminiscent of a generation ago when Texas produced its last pair of defensive tackles to land in the first two rounds. That was 2001, when Casey Hampton went in the first (No. 19) to the Pittsburgh Steelers before Shaun Rogers was chosen late in the second (No. 61) by the Detroit Lions,” McGinn wrote.

“Hampton would go on to make five Pro Bowls, more than any other UT defensive tackle, and Rogers would make three. Hampton has been on the fringes of making the Hall of Fame for several years. What links the Murphy-Sweat duo with Hampton & Rogers is the similarities in the two relationships.”

McGinn said one anonymous scout told him that Murphy is Casey Hampton 2.0.

“I like Byron [Murphy’s] tape better than Ed Oliver’s,” McGinn wrote in regards to what the scout told him. “He can play 3-[technique] or nose. As good a motor as you’ll see on an interior player…He’s going to be like Casey Hampton. I don’t know if he’s as strong as Casey Hampton, but he sure looks like it. Hampton was a nose tackle, but he had movement skills, too. This kid has unbelievable movement skills.”

McGinn noted that Hampton rubbed some people the wrong way with what scouts suggested was his cocky, overbearing approach. Murphy isn’t said to exhibit those qualities.

Murphy met formally with the Steelers at the NFL Combine, and as a projected top-15 pick, that raises some eyebrows.

Murphy is a 6-foot-1, 308-pound defensive lineman who is thought of by many as either the best defensive lineman in the class or one of the best, but he is a consensus first-round pick. He brings an explosive first step and significant pass rush upside despite questions about his schematic versatility up front and his size. Murphy is expected to be long gone by the time the Steelers pick at 20, but the fact that they are doing diligence on him at least means they are interested.

Derrick Bell of Steelers Now thinks it will come down to a “best player available” scenario if Murphy is still on the board when the Steelers pick at 20th overall.

The last time the Steelers selected a Texas Longhorn in the first round was the aforementioned Hampton in 2001.