Yes, the Bengals took edge rusher Myles Murphy in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft. However, to think of him as a fix for the lack of sacks by the defense would be a mistake.
Murphy is an excellent, all-around defensive end in the mold of Sam Hubbard. That is to say that, while we should expect some great plays and a few jaw-dropping moments, we should not hold our collective breaths for double-digit sack seasons. Setting your expectations there would be unwise. The closest Murphy got to 10 sacks while at Clemson was in 2021 with eight.
That being said, Cincinnati facing the gauntlet of incredible quarterbacks in their conference, must find a way to get more pressure and to take down the quarterback when the opportunity presents itself. If the defense struggles again in this area in 2023, the pressure will be on to draft a pure, more explosive pass rusher next year.
Furthermore, Trey Hendrickson will be a free agent after the 2024 season. With the selection of Murphy, the Bengals have already set themselves up for his eventual free-agency departure after the 2024 campaign. In addition, the team could save a massive $15M in cap space if they moved on from Hendrickson at the end of next season.
Hopefully, that cap figure will look like a bargain after Hendrickson wrecks shop this season. But if not, you might want to add an edge rusher to your list of potential needs for the Bengals in the 2024 draft.
Either way, with Murphy’s game being more reminiscent of Hubbard than Hendrickson, the Bengals could be in the market for an elite pass rusher as soon as next year.
One of the pass rushers Cincinnati should already have in their plans for next year’s draft is UCLA’s Laiatu Latu.