Former 2nd Round Pick Cornerback Touted as Strong Fit for Lions

Byron Murphy

Getty Byron Murphy celebrates a win in 2022 over Las Vegas.

The Detroit Lions have established that they possess some major defensive needs heading toward the 2023 offseason, and one spot that has a clear need is cornerback.

Detroit’s defense surrendered 26 touchdowns and over 245 yards per game on average. Worse, they allowed a total of 4,179 yards through the air. That points to the need for plenty of help on the back end. As a result, cornerbacks could be coming into early favor for the team.

With multiple players perhaps needed, the Lions may have to get creative to fill their needs effectively. That could lead to more underrated names coming into the mix for the team when all is said and done. writer Kevin Patra took a look at free agency matchmaking for NFC teams. When it came to the Lions, he matched Detroit with former Arizona Cardinals cornerback Byron Murphy, who is set to be a free agent and could be a fit for the team.

As Patra explained, the Lions need help in the slot, which is where Murphy could fit them the most, and he could be a value given a late-season foot injury.

“They were especially torched from the slot. That’s where Murphy steps in. A versatile corner, Murphy showed he can play on the outside in 2022 after thriving inside his first three seasons. A foot injury that wiped out the end of his season early could dampen Murphy’s free agency value. He’d immediately upgrade Aaron Glenn’s defense in Detroit — and his presence wouldn’t necessarily preclude the Lions from using an early draft pick on another young corner,” Patra wrote in the piece.

The point about signing a cornerback and then drafting one is a fantastic one from Patra. Detroit has been rumored to be potentially in play to snag a top-end cornerback like Jalen Ramsey. Doing that, though, could impact their draft thinking. Detroit has built through the draft, so signing an underrated player like Murphy could be a good way for them to continue building the team responsibly.

Byron Murphy’s Career Stats & Highlights

Perhaps the most intriguing thing about Byron Murphy is his status as a former second-overall pick out of Washington. That points to some overall talent that he does have on his side.

Murphy’s career in college was solid. In just two seasons with the Huskies, he put up 50 tackles, seven interceptions and two forced fumbles in just 20 games. Once he got to the NFL, that production continued.

With Arizona, Murphy has tallied 229 total tackles, three sacks, five interceptions, 34 passes defended, five fumble recoveries and two touchdowns.

While Murphy isn’t a huge name, he is quietly a good player and at age 25, could be a good long-term bet for the Lions given the talent that he has flashed early in his career.

Lions Could Hunt for Free Agency Values

Would an off-the-radar name like Murphy be the best choice for Detroit? In the end, it could be, because Detroit could have so many offseason needs that some tough choices need to be made.

On both sides of the ball, the Lions look to have some early needs, and that’s going to create a situation where the team may want to be careful with their salary commitments rather than spend big on only a few positions and not have wiggle room to work the market in bigger ways elsewhere.

Speaking at the NFL combine on Wednesday, March 1, general manager Brad Holmes confirmed the team will be looking to make upgrades nearly everywhere in free agency on a roster that needs it.

“We said at the start of our free agency meetings, I think last year we were a little bit more pointed, but I think every single position is on the table. There’s not one position that we could think of, offense and defense, that we don’t need to address, whether that’s starting level players or looking at some good quality depth,” Holmes explained.

What does that mean for cornerback, and Murphy specifically? It could mean the player represents a good fit for the Lions, given he could match the profile of the team’s previous free agency expenditures. Murphy could be cheap, and a player with something to prove. To that end, he could be a great player for the team to identify in the process.

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