2020 NFL Draft | Prospect film session with NC State DT Larrell Murchison

04/17/2020
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I sat down for an interview with talented defensive tackle Larrell Murchison from NC State. He is a former JUCO player who excelled at NC State and looked like one of the best defensive tackles at the Senior Bowl this year.

I started this interview by asking Murchison about his JUCO experience and if going through the “JUCO grind” was a good decision for him:

“It was a grind, man. I mean you have nothing, like no resources really. I had to walk up like five flights of stairs just to get to the locker room and then throw on the pads and walk up a hill to get to the field. There’s a lack of resources on the field too. You have coaches there but you don’t really have stuff to do drills with like bags or stuff like that. It was hard but it just motivated me to be like you don’t really need much to play. So when I got to State, I just took everything as a gift. Coming from JUCO, I was just happy to receive anything. I feel like JUCO was everything though. I met some great people and friends and coaches that I still talk to now so I do appreciate JUCO.”

Murchison was named one of the game captains for NC State last season. I asked him what it meant to be a captain at such a great program, especially given that he came from JUCO:

“It meant a lot because I knew come game day, I had to bring my best because I was who the young guys and the whole defense followed and I gotta show them what to do. That was just another reason to bring my best every game to show people what to do and how to approach the game. I had to respect my peers and respect my coaches to show them how to go out there and do it and how when you put everything into it, this is the result. Once I got that figured out, I was honored.”

I noticed on film that Murchison broke out the air guitar every time he made big play or got a sack. I asked him about the origins of that sack celebration and how such a unique move came about:

“I was messing around one day and I saw one of the players — I’m not even gonna name where he’s from — came out and broke that out. I thought ‘Oh man, that’s kind of cool’ so I just wanted to put my own swag on it and add it to my archive. Once I made my first big play, I just threw it out and it kept going. The fans then got going and I just kept it going. Kind of branded myself.”

Clip 1

On this play, Murchison is slanting down to make a tackle for a loss in the backfield. I asked him what his reads are before the snap and how he anticipates this run to the right of the screen:

“So this play was a designed blitz. We were bringing the blitz from the boundary. I’m in the 4-technique so I’m keying this D-gap here on the backside. Since we are blitzing right here, my first move is to step through the guy and bring the rep move so I can beat him up the field. I know going against heavy zone that I have to get my step through quicker because if I don’t I’m going to get cut off. If I get cut off, that’s a touchdown because that’s the D-gap and I got the B-gap so the biggest thing for me was just making sure I created penetration through the B-gap to disrupt the backfield.”

In this game, Murchison did a great job of staying upright against zone blocks and backside cut-offs. I asked him how important it is to stay upright and have great discipline against a zone run offense:

“Exactly, that is how you beat a zone team. If you are out of your gap and doing your own thing, it’s hard to beat a zone team because they’re specifically designed to run through different gaps. What we had to do and what I made sure my teammates did was control our gaps — which wasn’t hard because we were a gap control defense — and stay home and as long as everyone did that, we should be fine.”

NC State moved Murchison around a lot last season as he played anywhere from a 6-tech all the way down to a 0-tech or nose tackle. I asked him what position he feels most comfortable at in the NFL and if he feels like a gap shooting scheme is one that fits him:

“3-technique for sure. I feel like a gap shooting/gap control scheme fits well with my abilities.”

Clip 2

Murchison faces a quick combo block here that he quickly breaks up before getting penetration. I asked him what his plan of attack is when faced with double teams or combo blocks:

“When the game really slowed down for me, I started to realize backfield sets and when I’m most likely to see a double team. So when I see offensive tackles sitting next to tackles or guard splits real close to the tackle, I’m probably getting a double team. I strike my inside hand into his chest plate and get my thumbs up and once I feel that pressure coming from the guard, I sit down to the tackle. Once I sit down to him, the guard or tackle is going to want to come off to get to the backer. If they stay on me, I slip inside with my inside hand placement and try to split them to get to the B-gap.”

Disruption is key for defensive tackles as Murchison forces this play wide with his penetration. I asked him how important that quick penetration and disruption is for defensive tackles:

“It’s huge because you can get inside an offensive lineman’s head doing stuff like that. He may try to switch up his hands or get down on himself even and once you have him thinking, that’s is when you can really take advantage of him.”

Murchison’s effort and energy are obvious on nearly every play. I asked him how important it is to be that energetic player as a defensive tackle:

“It’s huge because I just like to use whatever I got. I’m 6-2, 270 pounds so I need to be around the ball at all times. If I can make the play or I can pursue and run down and make a play, you better believe I’m gonna make that happen and get to the ball.”

Clip 3

This play is a real fun clip from Murchison as he showcases his explosion and quickness on the edge. I asked him to break down what happens on this play:

“So I was in a 4-technique so as a 4-tech you have a two way go– kind of– but you gotta make sure you can’t get pinned. I came off and I tried to jab him a little bit and once I jabbed him, I took it and tried to scissor him inside to get to my B-gap. Once he put all his weight on me, I felt all his weight and saw the quarterback step like he was gonna roll out of the pocket so I knew with those two factors that I had to convert outside because I had outside contain. When I saw that and 73 got really heavy, I spun outside which allowed me to get around the corner. I wish I could have gotten around the corner for the sack but getting him dancing a bit in the pocket was big.”

I then asked Murchison about what move is his favorite and if he has a go-to pass rush move that he relies on:

“I would say my go-to is the jab scissors but to be honest I’m trying to do more in terms of getting off the ball as fast as I can and working to the edge and going from there rather than working the shake. The shake is not always going to work because they may just sit on it. A new go-to move I’m going to is getting wide in that 3-technique and rushing up the scissors and side scissors.”

I then added to that question and asked Murchison how important it is to vary your move set so you aren’t predictable as a pass rusher:

“It’s huge because if an offensive lineman studies you and you are doing the same thing every week then it’s gonna be easy to beat you. You don’t even need to have a ton of moves, just have a couple good ones in your arsenal and counters to each one of them.”

Clip 4

I noticed on film and down at the Senior Bowl that Murchison has a pretty nice spin move in his arsenal. I asked him how he came about adding that move to his game:

“I actually didn’t even have that move already thought about on this play right here. My first move was gonna be getting to his outside and I was gonna work the club or the scissors. He over set me though and once he did that, I knew the spin back inside was gonna work.”

This led to me asking Murchison if the spin move for him is more of a counter to his rush rather than a designed plan and if he likes to use this when tackles over set or are off balance:

“Yes, 100%. If I get caught in my initial move then I’ll try to spin out of it and away from that contact to get free. That’s one of my go-to counters.”

I then asked him about plan of attack and pass rush plan. I asked how he determines pre-play what his move is going to be on a particular rush:

“I think about it a little bit before the snap and I’ll typically have a move in mind at the snap but if I get a different read then I have to switch it up. I would say it mostly comes in that split second between the snap of the ball and contact with the lineman. You really decide how you are going to attack in that second.”

Clip 5

I love the two-hand swipe and quick get around up the shoulder on this play. I asked him if this is another rush that he has been working on throughout his career:

“Yeah that was something that they showed us at State. That’s a move that I perfected and got much better at over the years.”

NC State has produced a ton of defensive line talent for the NFL over the past few years. I asked Murchison what NC State does so well to develop defensive linemen:

“First of all, we have good offensive linemen that we go against every day in practice. You got Garrett Bradbury who went first round, Will Richardson from the Jaguars…We went against all those dudes, so that really helped. Our strength staff too. They are really hard and made sure we were training hard with everything and every workout. We also had defensive line coach Kevin Patrick who was really hard on us. I feel like that tough love gives you an advantage over other people. He’s a hard-nosed coach. The d-line coaches and the strength staff really helped us get better and more mature. You gotta have a nasty attitude when you are out there because being nice just doesn’t work for the defensive line.”

I then asked Murchison about film study and just how vital that aspect of the game is for him to be successful:

“That’s big because if you look at North Carolina, I remembered a tell in their offense. Something I remembered about playing them was that when their offensive tackle Charlie Heck had two hands on his inside leg — no matter what — it was gonna be a pass. We got that indicator and once we saw it, we knew it was a pass. We had a pass call for the defensive line that game that every time we called it, we knew to get after it in the pass rush.”

I then asked Murchison to clarify if every time Heck had his hands on his leg it was a pass play:

“Every time. If he had two hands on the inside leg, it was a pass every single time…100%. Go look it up. It didn’t matter if it was a pass down or a run down. Every single time on that inside leg it was a pass.”

I definitely have to go check out Heck’s film to see if I can catch that. Before I let Murchison go though, I asked him my typical closing question. What is my team getting if they spend a draft pick on Larrell Murchison:

“You are getting a consistent player who is going to follow the rules and respect everything around him. You don’t have to worry about me off the field ever. That isn’t how I live. On the field though, I’m going to do what I’m told. I’m gonna develop. Every year that I’ve played football, I’ve gotten better. You are getting a player who is going to develop each year, get better in the game. You are going to want me on your team for sure.”

 

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