1. Byron Murphy
2022 Team: Arizona Cardinals
Murphy missed the final eight games last season due to a foot injury. He did not register an interception in his nine games, but he did have four pass breakups, 36 total tackles, two fumble recoveries (one returned for a touchdown) and a top-50 grade (No. 46) among 118 qualified cornerbacks from Pro Football Focus. He’s also No. 43 on PFF’s top-100 2023 free agents list.
"Murphy boosted his stock this season by playing primarily on the outside after splitting reps with a skew toward the slot over his first three seasons, and he earned the highest overall (66.7) and coverage (63.9) grades of his career in the process. Murphy will be 25 through the entire 2023 regular season, and his inside-outside flexibility makes him an intriguing option for a lot of teams in need of help in the secondary."
Murphy’s most broadly productive season thus far was 2021 (four interceptions, 12 pass breakups, 64 total tackles). The Cardinals would surely like to re-sign him, but as they possibly pivot to other cornerback options (James Bradberry?) he will hit the open market.
"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."
Murphy is a combination of young, experienced, versatile and productive, with potential untapped upside. He is also a potential free agent bargain for someone, and his list of suitors should be lengthy. The Lions should not hold back to make him an offer he might not be able to refuse.