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John Schneider & Mike Macdonald On Selecting Byron Murphy II, 'The Best Defensive Player In The Draft'

Seahawks general manager and president of football operations John Schneider & head coach Mike Macdonald select Byron Murphy II in first round of the 2024 NFL Draft.

Seahawks head coach Mike Macdonald and president of football operations/general manager John Schneider in the draft room on day 1 of the 2024 NFL Draft on April 25, 2024.
Seahawks head coach Mike Macdonald and president of football operations/general manager John Schneider in the draft room on day 1 of the 2024 NFL Draft on April 25, 2024.

As the 16th pick of the 2024 NFL Draft approached, John Schneider fielded calls from teams looking to move up. There were multiple offers, "good ones too," he said. But while the Seahawks' general manager and president of football operations was tempted, especially with Seattle not scheduled to pick again until the third round, he ultimately said no to those trade offers.

The reason? Byron Murphy II, a player the Seahawks had graded as the best defensive player in the draft, was still available.

"Obviously everybody's very excited," Schneider said a couple hours after selecting Murphy. We had him graded as the best defensive player in the draft… High motor, high effort, great individual. He's 21-years old, got his degree in three years. Up and down the line of scrimmage, pass rusher, TFLs, you name it. A lot of utility, a lot of variety. To sit here and think when we started that we'd be able to acquire him, we'd be lying to you."

Seattle's interest in Murphy was strong enough that Schneider never talked to the Big 12 Conference Defensive Lineman of the Year, lest he give away the team's intentions. So when Schneider called Murphy to tell him he was going to be a Seahawk, it was their first conversation, though of course plenty of other people in the player personnel department had spent time with Murphy.

"I've never even talked to him," Schneider said. "I totally tried staying away from him. I didn't think he'd be available, but still, trying not to show too much interest."

Murphy was still available at 16 in large part because of an unusual draft in which the first 14 players off the board were all offensive players before UCLA defensive end Laiatu Latu went 15th to the Colts.

"Very rare year," Schneider said. "… We've never, ever seen that. Six quarterbacks, all the offensive linemen. We had a good feeling about the offensive linemen, then the quarterbacks, we kind of mocked it out that way, but that was pretty rare. Latu went right before Byron, and it was coming down. We had four (trade) opportunities, and we were ready, but he just kept coming. We were super blessed, so we just stayed and picked."

For Macdonald, who in March said he wants to "build a wall up the middle" on defense, Thursday night couldn't have played out much better as he sat next to Schneider for his first draft as Seattle's head coach.

"He plays our style of football, and he's so talented," Macdonald said. "Versatility along the front, he's such an aggressive player, plays violently, heavy hands for a guy with a shorter stature, flexible, pass-rush flexibility, you name it. We're just really excited to have him… This is just a great opportunity for our team to get better. He's going to provide great competition and he's our type of guy. He's a Seahawk through and through."

With Murphy joining a defensive line that already includes the likes of Leonard Williams, Dre'Mont Jones and Jarran Reed, among others, Macdonald is excited about what the Seahawks can do up front.

"Leonard can play all across the line, so can Byron," Macdonald said when asked about Williams and Murphy playing the same position. "We have a lot of guys who can, that's one of the reasons I'm so excited about it. You're not going to know where guys necessarily are going to be all the time. We'll have some really sweet ways to move guys around and have them in different spots based on the teams we're going to play. A lot of flexibility, pass-rush opportunities, matchup things we can manipulate, all that's on the table. It'll be fun to see how it shakes out."

As a somewhat undersized but highly athletic defensive tackle, Murphy compares, from a physical and athletic standpoint at least, to one of the best defensive players in league history, a comparison Schneider jokingly chastised himself for making, even as he did it.

"He's not Aaron Donald, but he tested like that," Schneider said. "He's got that compact style about him—slow down John, (Donald) is a Hall of Famer—but the body type, getting off the ball. All these statistics we had, all the analytics, his explosive rate, he gets to the quarterback quicker than anybody. He's got the ability to jump off the ball and get up the field. He can play edges, he can play square, he can rush the passer inside, he gets up and down the line of scrimmage. But the body type, that's the body type comparison."

Schneider made it clear he isn't trying to compare Murphy to one of the best to ever do it, that's not fair to put on any rookie, but what Murphy already is, in the eyes of a Seahawks, is a player who was too good to pass up, even with some tempting trade offers on the table.

"I'd be lying to you if I said we didn't think about it, but the player was too good," Schneider said. "He influences the game a lot."

Go behind the scenes of the Seahawks draft room on Day 1 of the 2024 NFL Draft.

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