Byron Murphy sounded almost out of breath and admitted he couldn’t stop pacing around his house.
The cornerback from the University of Washington had hoped to be a first-round pick Thursday night, and there was some disappointment when he didn’t. But Friday morning, when a Cardinals scout called Murphy – who went to high school at Scottsdale Saguaro and played with current Cardinal Christian Kirk – he started thinking about playing for his hometown team.
That came as soon as the second round of the draft began Friday afternoon, with the Cardinals taking Murphy with the first choice of the night, 33rd overall.
“I kind of had it in the back of my mind I could be a Cardinal,” Murphy said. “This whole day has been kind of emotional, just thinking about the Cardinals’ part of the Birdgang, knowing I grew up watching the Cardinals my whole life. I’m ready to stay in my hometown.”
General Manager Steve Keim said the Cardinals had Murphy high on the draft board, even with the chance to take a wide receiver or offensive lineman.
"At 33, to me, Byron Murphy was a no-brainer," Keim said.
Murphy, 5-foot-11 and 190 pounds, only played 20 games in two years at Washington. But he had six interceptions and showed he could play inside and outside in the secondary. A Huskies teammate of Cardinals safety Budda Baker, Murphy potentially slides into the nickel role with veterans Patrick Peterson and Robert Alford on the outside and Baker and D.J. Swearinger at safety.
"He'll compete," coach Kliff Kingsbury said. "He has to be in the rotation somewhere. You see the production, the pass breakups. He always seems to get his hands on the football somehow."
Murphy wasn’t thinking that far ahead, simply saying he would embrace any role he got.
He’s got a bevy of new teammates that can help. Baker is in the secondary, along with Peterson, who Murphy just met for the first time last week at a car show. Peterson already was giving him NFL tips, and now Murphy will share the same locker room.
“It’s going to be amazing,” Murphy said. “I watched him growing up, always watched his footwork, technique. Now I have the opportunity to play with him and I’ll pick his brain as much as I can.”
Murphy is the sixth Arizona high school product on the Cardinals’ roster. Three – Murphy, Kirk and running back D.J. Foster – went to Saguaro.
“He was just such an athlete when I watched him at Saguaro,” Foster said. “I can tell he’s worked on his craft at corner so much and he’s developed into such a great DB. I think he’s only getting started, which is scary. He’s still fresh and he’s going to have a great career.”
Kirk, meanwhile, visited Murphy’s house both Thursday and Friday to support his former high school teammate.
“He always gave me motivation,” Murphy said. “He told me to take my steps day by day and stay confident in yourself and your time will come.”