Bengals’ first-round pick Murphy looks back on NFL Draft, eyes big 2nd season

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

Myles Murphy remembers how nerve-wracking it was last year waiting all night with 150 guests at his draft party to hear his name called by the Cincinnati Bengals. As the 28th overall pick, he was four selections away from having to do it all again the next evening.

Now as many of his friends back at Clemson are preparing to go through that process, he’s not necessarily reminiscing on his big moment, but he is giving a lot of advice and answering questions.

Murphy, who came to Cincinnati with high expectations as a first-round defensive end, is glad to be beyond that stage of his career and focusing on Year 2. However, he looks forward to seeing where his friends land and might attend a couple former teammates’ draft parties this week.

“I do have a lot of teammates that I played with at Clemson that are in the process now, so they have been asking me a lot of questions as far as, ‘What did you do on draft night?’ and so on,” Murphy said. “The biggest thing that I tell them that I was told from vets in the league was just enjoy the night. Don’t be worried about oh, why wasn’t I picked yet? Why is my phone not ringing yet? Just enjoy the night and enjoy the people around you. Enjoy the experience. That’s my biggest message to all of them right now.”

Murphy would love to see some of his former Clemson teammates end up with the Bengals, rattling off the names of “XT (Xavier Thomas), Ruke (Orhorhoro), Tyler Davis, Will Shipley, (Jeremiah) Trotter, Nate (Wiggins),” as ones the organization should consider. Orhorhoro, a defensive tackle projected to be a second-round pick, and Wiggins, a first-round talent cornerback, have showed up in some mock drafts with the Bengals.

While Murphy helped those guys as much as he could in their draft prep, he was wanting to get a jump on his second NFL season. He began his offseason taking a week or so off at home in Atlanta with family, but flew out to Arizona to train at Exos for all of February, including working out with several of his Clemson buddies. He said he spends his offseasons bulking up, to around the 280 pounds he sits now, and then he leans out to around 272 pounds before the season.

One thing he’s enjoyed about this offseason has been his ability to also focus on football and not just testing drills.

“There is a Combine condition, and there is football condition,” Murphy said. “I was in great Combine condition a year ago, but not in good football condition. So, I feel like right now I’m in really good football condition. My endurance is great, the strength is there, so I feel like my preparation for this upcoming season is much better than it was last year.”

Murphy appeared in all 17 games last year, getting reps at both the left end and right end but played just 28 percent of the defensive snaps. He finished with 20 tackles, three tackles for loss, three sacks and three quarterback hits, but most of that production came in the second half of the season.

“I was a lot more comfortable (by the end) to say the least, honestly, because I knew what to expect,” Murphy said. “I feel like the biggest mental difference from college to now is the playbook is a little bit easier, but the on-field, in-game adjustments when the crowd is extremely loud is a lot more difficult. Thats’ the biggest game changer in my opinion. Toward the end of the season, I was not thinking for our linebackers, but I was predicting and knowing what they were already going to say, what defense it was. So I was most definitely moving faster, knowing what to do and what to expect from our side of the ball and the offensive line. And I always had a plan when it came to pass rushing, especially in the second half of the season.”

The Bengals coaching staff told Murphy his best way to get more snaps in Year 2 was to make sure he could replicate all of his skills and moves on the left side as well as he does on the right. Most of his college snaps came on the right side, but Cincinnati needs him to be a rotational guy on both ends behind Sam Hubbard and Trey Hendrickson.

Murphy said he can become more proficient on the left just by repeating the movements until muscle memory kicks in and it becomes habit like on the right.

“Pass rushing is all a rhythm,” Murphy said. “The biggest thing on the left side was literally just my feet are moving, but I gotta have my hands in tune with my feet to where everything just looks smooth, everything is just in sync in my opinion. So really just going out there and repping it to where it becomes almost muscle memory. So I’m like, literally on the right side, just bending in and it’s a piece of cake. Left side, I got to think about it. But I feel like now since I’ve repped it up a lot, it is a lot easier than it was last year.”

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