Using the familiar formula of proven production at a big-time school crafted with high intensity that has made them one of the most successful NFL draft day teams in the 2020s, the Bengals opted for Clemson junior edge player Myles Murphy with the 28th pick in Thursday night's first round of the draft.
Murphy, who racked up 18.5 sacks and 36 tackles for loss in 35 games, instantly becomes the youngest Bengal. At 21, he's the first defensive lineman taken by the Bengals in the first round since defensive end Justin Smith went No. 4 overall in 2001, a few months before the 6-5, 268-pound Murphy would be born the following January.
He beefs up the rotational edgers backing up one of the NFL's more feared rush tandems in Trey Hendrickson and Sam Hubbard and comes in as the only player in the nation to record at least 10 tackles for loss and at least one forced fumble in each of the last three seasons.
Murphy pulled a hamstring the night before his workout at the NFL scouting combine and couldn't go until two weeks ago.
According to reports, it was worth the wait when he put up a 9.71 relative athletic score (RAS) out of ten with a 4.51-second 40-yard dash and a 7.22 in the 3-cone drill. Kent Lee Platte, creator of the metric, has tweeted it is the 48th highest RSA out of more than 1,600 defensive ends in the last 36 years.
Murphy, a top-five high school recruit out of Marietta, Ga., also seems to fit with defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo's interchangeable looks because the draftnicks say he can also cover.
"Plays as an edge defender normally aligned in a three-point stance anywhere from a four to a wide nine alignment," says Ourlads Scouting Services. "Excellent size and length for the position he plays with as high motor and natural knee bend."
The NFL.com comp to Murphy is Antwan Odom, which hits close to home. Odom shares the Bengals record for sacks in a game when he got to Aaron Rodgers five times in Green Bay in 2009. Before Hendrickson in 2021 and Clemson nose tackle DJ Reader in 2020, Odom was the richest free agent in Bengals history.
See the best photos of DE Myles Murphy of Clemson, the Bengals first pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.