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Caleb Murphy Scouting Report | Ferris State DE/OLB | 2023 NFL Draft

Caleb Murphy Scouting Report | Ferris State DE/OLB | 2023 NFL Draft

Caleb Murphy, Ferris State

Before Caleb Murphy was a two-time NCAA Division II National Champion and held the NCAA record for sacks in a single season, he was a 6-foot-4, 215 defensive end/outside linebacker prospect at Dowagiac Union High School in Dowagiac, Michigan. While at Dowagiac Union, Murphy shined as a four-sport athlete, participating in football, basketball, wrestling, and track & field.

As a senior in 2017, Murphy accumulated 92 tackles, 26 tackles for loss, seven sacks, and one interception, earning All-State Honorable Mention honors from the Detroit Free Press. Despite Murphy’s exceptional senior season, he only garnered scholarship offers from five programs – Air Force, Ferris State, Saginaw Valley State, Siena Heights, and Grand Valley State. After the 2017 season, Murphy signed his letter of intent with Grand Valley State, where he would later redshirt as a true freshman in 2018.

In Murphy’s second season at Grand Valley State, the redshirt freshman appeared in eight games, posting 13 tackles and one sack. Although Murphy saw an increase in playing time during the 2019 season, he decided to leave Grand Valley State and transfer to Ferris State, where he would join his younger brother, Cailyn, as a member of the Bulldogs’ football program.

In his first season at Ferris State, the Bulldogs and other members of the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletics Conference (GLIAC) had to cancel their entire seasons due to the Coronavirus Pandemic in 2020.

When Murphy finally made his long-awaited debut at Ferris State during the 2021 season, he made an immediate impact for the Bulldogs, helping lead the team to its first undefeated season and its national championship in program history. On the season, Murphy recorded 63 tackles, 21.5 tackles for loss, 14.5 sacks, and five forced fumbles, earning GLIAC Defensive Lineman of the Year and first-team All-GLIAC honors.

Going into his final year of collegiate eligibility, Murphy found an extra source of motivation to surpass his incredible redshirt junior season in 2021.

Driven by his intentions to break Matthew Judon’s record for the most single-season sacks in Division II history, Murphy would go on to have one of the best defensive seasons in college football history. In another championship-winning season for Ferris State, Murphy racked up 90 tackles, 39 tackles for loss, and 25.5 sacks, shattering Judon’s previous record of 20.5 sacks and setting a new NCAA single-season sack record, which was previously held by Baltimore Ravens legend Terrell Suggs, who recorded 24 sacks for Arizona State in 2002.

After his once-in-a-lifetime senior season, Murphy became the first-ever Division II player to win the Ted Hendricks Award, given to the best defensive end in college football. Murray was named the GLIAC Player of the Year and won the Cliff Harris Award as the nation’s best small college defensive player. To go along with an already-impressive list of individual accolades, Murphy was also a finalist for the Harlon Hill trophy, given the Division II version of the Heisman Trophy.

In a short, three-year career at Ferris State, Murphy became the Bulldogs’ best defensive player in program history, setting single-season records in tackles for loss, sacks, and forced fumbles.

After the 2022 season, Murphy represented Ferris State at the 2023 East-West Shrine Collegiate All-Star Game in Las Vegas, Nevada, where he recorded one sack. Murphy was also invited to the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine, becoming only the third player in Ferris State history to receive an invitation.

Scouting Report

As one of the top defensive players in NCAA Division II history, Caleb Murphy boasts exceptional strength at the point of attack, a unique combination of top-end speed and initial quickness, high effort and pursuit along the line of scrimmage, and proficient use of hands as an edge rusher.

Murphy utilizes his ten ⅛-inch hands, 79.5-inch wingspan, and explosive lower half to gain a physical advantage at the point of attack. Murphy, who already plays with great pad level and hip/knee flexibility, uses his strength and length to impose his will on offensive linemen as an EDGE defender, 3-tech defensive tackle, or outside linebacker.

Murphy displayed impressive speed and athletic ability during his legendary two-year run at Ferris State. With advanced top-end speed and initial quickness at the line of scrimmage, Murphy is a legit sideline-to-sideline defender who uses lateral quickness and high motor to beat ball carriers to the edge and create negative plays with his backside pursuit. 

When you watch Murphy fly around the line of scrimmage, chasing plays from the backside and retracing his steps to limit ball carriers to short yardage, it’s not hard to understand why he was so productive during his college career. With Murphy’s relentless drive and pursuit on full display, he can be a game-changing player at multiple spots on the defensive side of the ball.

With his high-level effort and closing speed, Murphy’s keen instincts enable him to diagnose plays before they develop, making frequent stops in the opponent’s backfield. With roughly 60 tackles for loss in two seasons at Ferris State, Murphy has proven to have the quick trigger and instincts necessary to become one of the most productive defensive weapons in the class.

As a pass rusher, Murphy is a predominant power rusher with a strong bull rush ability and an effective long arm to gain leverage as an EDGE defender. One of Murphy’s weaknesses is his lack of diverse pass rush moves; Murphy will need to develop a few pass rush moves to become a more complete pass rusher at the NFL level.

Another concerning quality in Murphy’s profile is his slightly undersized build. Currently sitting at 6-foot-4, 245 pounds, Murphy still has room to add mass to his frame, which would serve him well if he develops into a permanent EDGE defender.

Draft Grade

Murphy’s college production, overall play strength, athletic ability, and high motor should earn him a draft spot in the 2023 NFL Draft, which would make him the second Ferris State football player to get drafted into the NFL. With the NFL Scouting Combine around the corner, Murphy has the opportunity to improve his draft stock with a stellar performance in Indianapolis. Telling by his high athletic upside, Murphy should perform well enough to warrant a Day 2 or 3 selection.

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