The Cleveland Browns had the league’s 21st-ranked pass defense in 2016, and that’s a statistic UDFA Najee Murray can help improve.
The Cleveland Browns’ secondary wasn’t the worst in the NFL last season, but it wasn’t close to being the best either. On average, the team allowed 249.8 yards passing per game. This is why no one was surprised when the team spent draft picks on a pass-rusher (Myles Garrett), a safety (Jabrill Peppers) and a cornerback (Howard Wilson). Each of these players should help improve the pass defense in 2017.
However, the Browns aren’t going to stop adding to their roster with draft picks. A number of undrafted free agents have either been signed or invited to rookie minicamp, which will run from May 12-14. One player who has been invited could end up helping to improve the Cleveland secondary as well. His name is Najee Murray and he’s a local product who played his college ball at Kent State.
Of course, he’ll have to earn a contract first. According to Robert Metzger of WTOV-TV 9, Murray has earned an invitation only and will have to impress coaches to earn a deal.
There’s plenty to suggest that Murray will be able to impress the Cleveland staff, though. This is why he will be one undrafted rookie worth watching during minicamp. At 5-9 and 180 pounds, the Steubenville, OH native is a bit undersized. However, he’s feisty on the field and excellent in pass coverage. Last season, he produced 47 tackles, two interceptions and 14 passes defended.
According to Pro Football Focus (PFF College), Murray was one of the best slot cornerbacks in the country in 2016:
When lined up in the slot, Kent State CB Najee Murray allowed a 37.8 QB rating, best of all FBS cornerbacks.
Cornerbacks Joe Haden and Jamar Taylor will likely start on the outside in 2017, with Briean Boddy-Calhoun and rookie Wilson providing depth and playing in the slot. It’s in the slot that Murray will likely have to earn a role. Yet, he has shown the skills to earn one.
In addition to what Murray has put on tape, he showed he has NFL speed by running a 4.44-second 40 at Kent State’s pro day. If Murray is able to earn an UDFA contract, expect him to earn an early role on special teams and in dime packages.