The Arizona Cardinals need second-year cornerback Byron Murphy to break out in 2020.
There is no question that the NFL world has high expectations for the Arizona Cardinals‘ offense in the 2020 season.
The Cardinals went from being the 32nd-ranked offense in 2018 all the way up to 16th in 2019 with Kliff Kingsbury and Kyler Murray leading the way. After acquiring DeAndre Hopkins in a trade in 2020, all eyes will be on that side of the ball for Arizona in the 2020 season.
With that said, if the Cardinals are going to compete in the NFC West this season, they are going to need more from their defense, which is going to year two in Vance Joseph’s system.
Joseph asks a lot of his defensive backs playing a lot of press-man coverage, and last year’s second-round pick Byron Murphy certainly got picked on and took his lumps along the way.
Murphy’s rookie season at a glance
With Patrick Peterson missing six games last season and a variety of other shuffling from the Cardinals in the secondary, Murphy was targeted a whopping 112 times in his rookie season.
That figure was second only to the 117 targets for Buccaneers cornerback Carlton Davis.
Murphy had plenty of opportunities to make plays, and plenty of room to make mistakes and learn on the job.
The 33rd overall pick out of Washington allowed 78 completions and a league-leading nine touchdowns on throws into his coverage according to Pro Football Reference, but he also had 10 pass breakups, an interception, and 78 total tackles.
The Cardinals gave Murphy every chance to prove himself out there as a rookie and so did other teams.
Despite the fact that he gave up a league-leading nine touchdowns in 2019, there is something to be said of the coaching staffs confidence in him to go back out there and make plays that could pay dividends in the 2020 season.
The Cardinals felt like Murphy was the fifth-best player in the entire 2019 NFL Draft class. After selecting Kyler Murray first overall, they had to be thrilled to see one of their top overall players on the board at the top of round two.
The offense is not going to be able to win Arizona every game. The defense will need to step up and Murphy is going to have every opportunity to prove that he can make team target him a lot less than 112 times in a season.
The Cardinals’ hope for 2020 is that Murphy will become a player teams want to avoid throwing the ball at, and he showed flashes of that kind of ability in his rookie season. He will be counted on to make a big leap forward in 2020.