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Position switch back in high school pays off for Seahawks’ first-rounder DT Byron Murphy II

Defensive lineman perfect for Seattle’s new head coach

By TIM BOOTH, AP Sports Writer
Published: May 2, 2024, 3:33pm
3 Photos
Seattle Seahawks 2024 first round draft pick, Byron Murphy II, smiles during a news conference at the NFL team&rsquo;s headquarters, Thursday, May 2, 2024, in Renton, Wash.
Seattle Seahawks 2024 first round draft pick, Byron Murphy II, smiles during a news conference at the NFL team’s headquarters, Thursday, May 2, 2024, in Renton, Wash. (AP Photo/John Froschauer) Photo Gallery

RENTON — When Byron Murphy II was presented with the idea of moving from the higher-profile position of linebacker to playing on the defensive line as a high schooler, he was at first a little reluctant but eventually accepted the move and what it could do for his career.

His parents’ reaction when told he was becoming a defensive lineman?

“When I told my parents, my parents, they went off on me. They were mad,” Murphy said with a chuckle on Thursday. “I was telling them it was going to be OK. I’m going to do good at that position.”

Clearly making the position switch ended up being the right move for Murphy after the Texas star was the second defensive player selected in last week’s NFL draft. With a run of offensive talent dominating the first half of the first round, Murphy slid into the hands of the Seattle Seahawks with the No. 16 overall pick.

For new coach Mike Macdonald and his defensive background, landing perhaps the best defensive prospect in the draft in a spot where Seattle had no expectations of getting him ended up being a coup as part of the offseason remodel of the Seahawks’ defense.

“He was a guy that throughout the season we were always watching like ‘do we put ourselves in a position to where we’d be able to draft him or not?’ ” Seattle general manager John Schneider said. “Not having a second-round draft pick really inhibited our ability to move up to take him, so we basically prayed on it and sweated it out the other night.”

Seattle slow-played some of its interest in Murphy during the pre-draft process in part because it didn’t think he’d last until the 16th pick. His interactions with the Seahawks were limited. He wasn’t brought to Seattle for a pre-draft visit. His first time in the city was when he arrived in town for this weekend’s rookie minicamp.

His impact should be immediate, especially with Macdonald intent on rotations along the defensive line. Murphy is likely the final piece to a group that includes Leonard Williams, Dre’Mont Jones and Jarran Reed as the primary contributors.

Getting drafted by Seattle also tied Murphy to his favorite team growing up in the Dallas area. Rather than growing up a fan of the local team, Murphy was drawn to the “Legion of Boom” era of the Seahawks with the likes of Kam Chancellor, Marshawn Lynch, Michael Bennett, Bobby Wagner, Richard Sherman and Russell Wilson.

“Watching those guys go out there and dominate their opponents and win a Super Bowl, it was crazy. That’s one of my goals. I’m trying to win games and bring a Super Bowl here as well,” Murphy said.