|04-24-2007, 07:08 PM||#1|
Join Date: Jul 2006
John Murphy - The New Face of the Draft
John Murphy: The New Face of the Draft
by Sigmund Bloom
As you settle in to watch the draft this weekend, you may reflect on the people who have made the draft into a season unto itself punctuated by a grand finale in Radio City Music Hall. Agents, media pundits, scouts, coaches, and players all play integral roles.
For many fans, names like Kiper or Mayock have also become synonymous with the draft, but for those involved behind the scenes, one man seems omnipresent - John Murphy.
As much as he's a man behind the curtain, Murphy isn't entirely hidden from public view. He gets public exposure online as Yahoo's NFL personnel and college prospect evaluator. His draft guide, NFL Draft Bible, has been running for six years, as well. For those of us on the NFL Draft beat, gathering and disseminating information about prospects keeps one plenty busy for the months of January-April, but Murphy's reports are the by-product of an even more intense involvement in the process.
When it comes to Murphy and the draft season, some numbers get very large. The number of events at which Murphy's present. The number of players whom Murphy has scouted extensively. The number of people who greet Murphy with a familiar smile. The number of people who benefit from Murphy's knowledge and work. Truthfully, there's no way to be involved with the draft without knowing John Murphy.
Agents know him, and have come to count on him. Brian Mackler of Sportstars offered this perspective on Murphy's eye for talent. "I've known John for 10 years. He always seems to be on point in the very early stages on a player's potential. I know he spends a lot of time looking at film. When you read or talk to John, he seems to be six months ahead of the conventional wisdom."
Scouts know him. Just ask C.O. Brocato, the Titans scouting legend on the 2007 list of preliminary nominees for the NFL Hall of Fame. Brocato uses the phrases "good man" and "hard working" to describe Murphy. Brocato also points out that the symbiotic relationship between Murphy and NFL scouts also helps the players involved. "He helps out the scouts," says Brocato. "He gives information to all of the scouts, and helps the players by making sure the scouts have everything they need."
All-Star games know John Murphy, too. Dan Reeves called the East-West Shrine Game "a combine wrapped in a football game", and Murphy helps make sense of the chaos of that action-packed week. "The one thing that's fascinating in this day and age of information is what do you with all that information from 97 sources," said Jack Hart, the Executive Director of the Shrine Game. "John does a good job of pulling together all the loose ends." The character of NFL prospects has become a prominent issue recently, but the Shrine Game has treated it as of utmost importance for some time. Keeping with the theme of the greater good established by the relationship with the Shriners and the millions of dollars the game has raised for their cause, the Shrine Game brings in several players from the military academies and puts a large emphasis on character when deciding who to invite. Murphy plays a large part in that process. Hart explains, "John has a good touch, a good read of the pulse of that (character) aspect of evaluations. He's close to the action. I trust his judgment and his recommendations."
Players definitely know him. Murphy touted Marques Colston long before the mainstream draftniks were aware of the Hofstra product. When Maurice Stovall pulled out of the 2006 Shrine Game to play in the Senior Bowl, Murphy played an integral role in getting Colston in the game. The rest is history. When I talked to Murphy at the Shrine Game practices in 2006, he made no effort to conceal his enthusiasm about Colston's prospects. He shared that Colston was actually training for combine/pro day testing when he got the call to come to San Antonio, hinting that what we would see was just the tip of the iceberg of Colston's potential.
Murphy's fingerprints are on the rosters of almost every all-star game, and but none more than the "Texas Vs. The Nation" game. His "do it yourself" approach was apparent all week in El Paso at this year's inaugural game. In addition to playing his usual role in player evaluation, Murphy took a hands-on approach with the practices and tone of the week. The player's agendas featured several public events at military bases and hospitals. The hard work of scouts was recognized with hospitality and a scout of the year award. Talented players overlooked or shunned by other all-star games found a home at "Texas Vs. The Nation". Texas Vs. The Nation was the only all star game to invite players to be timed in combine tests such as the 40 yard dash and 3 cone drill. Murphy even played QB in the OL/DL drills to get closer to the players and coaches. Allen Barbre (OL-Missouri Southern) and Walter Thomas (DT-NW Mississippi CC) are just two of the players whose fates changed because of their involvement with Murphy and his new game, which was one of the most financially successful all-star game debuts ever. Both have seen their stocks skyrocket after scouts from all 32 teams got to see them up close and personal, an opportunity that would not have existed without the game Murphy worked hard to help create.
Kenny Hansmire, CEO of the Texas Vs. The Nation game and Vice President on the Board of Directors of the American Football Coaches foundation, called Murphy "one of the most focused, knowledgeable, and sincere people in his profession." Hansmire added, "He will always have a job with me for this bowl and any other bowl we start. If I'm starting a new bowl game, John's the first person I'd call."
It's Tuesday before the NFL Draft, and where's Murphy? North of the border, helping a CFL team setup and review their draft board for May 2nd and being involved with their free agent mini-camp, where many of the players invited are ones he dealt with in past years and has continued to help.
While his reputation and sphere of influence grow, Murphy has resisted the urge to become "big time". He makes himself accessible to any agent, scout, player, or writer. He has also resisted the urge to use his influence to dole out preferential treatment -- except of course to the players who have proven themselves to Murphy. Hansmire attested to this. "There's a lot of people out there that use athletes. John's black and white, the kid's got talent and needs to play in the bowl game, or not."
So, when your team finds the next diamond in the rough on their way to a surprise playoff berth, give credit to the scouts, agents, coaches, and mostly, the player himself. But that's not all. Odds are, you may need to thank John Murphy, too.