NFL Insider Reveals Fast-Rising Prospect Minnesota Vikings ‘Have a Lot of Interest in’

NFL: Minnesota Vikings Training Camp
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings landed one of the top picks in the 2024 NFL Draft thanks to a four-game losing streak to end the season. While the skid ended the 2023 campaign on a low note, it could prove to be beneficial for a Vikings’ front office that is quite high on this year’s draft class.

Sitting just outside the top-10 picks, Minnesota is not in a favorable spot to land one of the three best quarterback prospects in the 2024 class. While that potentially eliminates finding a long-term replacement for Kirk Cousins in Round 1, quarterback-needy teams drafting ahead of Minnesota also means some of the top non-passers will slide down the draft board.

  • Minnesota Vikings draft needs 2024: QB, DT, EDGE, CB, iOL, LB

Related: Minnesota Vikings draft picks 2024

In the 2023 NFL Draft, Minnesota prioritized the passing game with its top picks. Jordan Addison had a breakout year, while defensive backs Mekhi Blackmon and Jay Ward learned the ropes of the position. Months out from the 2024 NFL Draft, general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah seems to be focused on the trenches.

According to Tony Pauline of Sportskeeda, the Vikings have “a lot of interest” in Texas Longhorns defensive tackle Byron Murphy II. One of the most athletic defensive linemen in the 2024 NFL Draft class, Murphy is one of the fastest-rising prospects in the draft right now.

“The Minnesota Vikings, who desperately need a defensive tackle, are said to have a lot of interest in Murphy. The insanely athletic defender, who is expected to test off the charts at the combine, would be a terrific fit for the Vikings defensive scheme.”

Tony Pauline – Sportskeeda

Pauline went on to note that Murphy’s talk has skyrocketed even before the 2024 Senior Bowl. The former Longhorns’ interior defender is now viewed as a player who won’t make it outside the top-20 picks. There is reportedly a chance he doesn’t make it past the 15th pick so Minnesota may not even be able to trade down.

Who will the Minnesota Vikings draft in 2024? Meet potential target Byron Murphy II

NCAA Football: Sugar Bowl-Texas at Washington
John David Mercer-USA TODAY SportsCredit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Byron Murphy, the reigning Big 12 Defensive Lineman of the Year, was dominant this past season for Texas. In the heart of the Longhorns’ defense, the All-Big 12 defensive tackle anchored a unit that allowed the third-fewest rushing yards per game (80.8) and the third-lowest average yards per carry (2.9) among Power 5 teams.

  • Byron Murphy II height and weight: 6-foot-1, 308 pounds

Adding Murphy would be extremely beneficial for the Vikings’ defensive line. In 2023, Minnesota ranked 18th in ESPN’s pass-rush win rate (40 percent) and placed 20th in run-stop win rate (30 percent). With Harrison Phillips (42 percent run-stop win rate) in a contract year, the need for long-term help on the defensive interior is even more pressing.

Byron Murphy II stats

PFF gradeSacksTFLsPressuresPass-Rush Win RateRun-Stop Win Rate
91.1 (2nd in FBS)5845 (5th)19.6% (1st in FBS)9.5%
Statistics via Pro Football Focus. Stats among FBS defensive tackles

Related: Vikings Hesitant to Fully Guarantee Kirk Cousins’ New Contract Beyond 2024

Murphy is rated as one of the best defensive prospects in the 2024 NFL Draft by most analysts. Daniel Jeremiah of NFL Network ranked Murphy as one of the 25 best prospects in this class. While Murphy isn’t playing at the Senior Bowl due to a minor injury, Dane Brugler of The Athletic said the buzz of him being a top-20 pick is legit.

“Murphy is a very explosive, nimble and instinctive defensive tackle. He is a dynamic disruptor against the pass game. He explodes out of his stance and can roll his hips on contact, creating instant push. He consistently gets underneath blockers and prevails in the leverage battle. He has quick hands to win with swipe moves, a push/pull maneuver or a violent club. Once he feels a blocker leaning left or right, he has elite change-of-direction quickness. Against the run, he can utilize his quickness to penetrate and create negative plays. He also has incredible balance to take on blocks while going to one knee before uncoiling and making plays.”

Byron Murphy II scouting report by NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah

In his final season with the Longhorns, Murphy scored two offensive touchdowns. The 300-pound lineman scored a rushing touchdown in the CFP Semifinal against the Washington Huskies and hauled in a receiving touchdown against Wyoming in September. While that likely won’t be replicated at the next level, it helps capture his incredible athleticism at that size.

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