Kenneth Murray, the Chargers’ starting linebacker is a native of Missouri City, Texas where he starred for Elkins High School where he recorded 104 tackles, four sack, six pass breakups, and a forced fumble as a senior. He left Elkins as a four-star recruit by Rivals and Scout and the 17th-ranked outside linebacker. After his prep career came to a close, Murray chose to join the Sooners of Oklahoma over the likes of Baylor, Michigan, and Texas.
Murray started for the Sooners the very second he stepped on campus in Norman. As a true freshman, Murray started all 14 games en route to earning Co-Defensive Freshman of the Year honors in the Big 12 and Freshman All-American honors by the Football Writer’s Association of America. He ranked second on the team with 78 total tackles to go with one tackle for loss, a forced fumble, and a recovered fumble.
As a second-year starter for the Sooners in 2018, Murray recorded 155 total tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss, four sacks, and two pass breakups to check off his first breakout year at the college level. That tackle amount was the most by a OU defender since 2007 and helped him earn Second-Team All-Big 12 honors by both the coaches and the media.
Murray ended his time with the Sooners by recording 102 tackles, a career-high 17 tackles for loss, four more sack, and four pass breakups as a true junior. He was named a First-Team All-Big 12 selection and a Third-Team All-American by the Associated Press. Following the season, he was also named a semifinalist for the Chuck Bednarik Award, Dick Butkus Award, and Ronnie Lott Impact trophy.
At the 2020 NFL Combine, Murray ran a 4.52 in the 40-yard dash at 6’2.5” and 241 pounds. He also posted great jumps of 38 inches in the vertical and 10’9” in the broad jump. After selecting quarterback Justin Herbert with the sixth-overall pick, the Chargers traded back into the first round to select Murray with the 23rd pick.
In his first season as a pro, Murray set the Chargers rookie record for tackles in a season with 107, previously held by Derwin James (106 in 2018). He also recorded five tackles for loss, three pass breakups, and his first professional sack which went against the Patriots and Cam Newton.
In year two, Murray played in just 11 games with six starts, mainly playing behind Drue Tranquill and Kyzir White while fighting through a nagging lower-body injury. He ended the year with 31 tackles and two for loss.
Murray stepped back into the starting lineup next to Tranquill in 2022 as he started 16 of 17 games. On top of recording his first NFL interception, Murray finished with 76 tackles, a career-high seven for loss, another sack, and three pass breakups.
Years with team: 3
“Kenneth Murray signed a 4 year, $12,974,941 contract with the Los Angeles Chargers, including a $6,996,320 signing bonus, $12,974,941 guaranteed, and an average annual salary of $3,243,735. In 2023, Murray will earn a base salary of $2,379,310, while carrying a cap hit of $4,128,390 and a dead cap value of $4,128,390.” - Spotrac.com
Murray has always been one of the most athletic off-ball linebackers since he was drafted in 2020. His range sideline-to-sideline range is huge and his closing speed also stands out. There are only so many players with comparable physical compositions as Murray and it’s always been up to him to make it all click as a pro.
Murray’s start to his NFL career was so up-and-down that the Chargers actually tried him at edge rusher throughout the 2021 season. That’s a really tough look for a player to almost have to switch positions entirely because his prospects at the time for his original position were that bad. Despite the massive athletic upside, Murray has struggled to keep himself clean in run defense. He has often been far too easy to wash out of the play by opposing offensive linemen and that was a huge part as to why Murray rarely saw the field in his sophomore season.
Odds of making the roster/What to expect in 2023?
Murray will enter the season as a starting middle linebacker alongside veteran free-agent acquisition Eric Kendricks. Entering year four, it’s time to see if Kenneth Murray can put it all together after the Chargers decided not to pick up his fifth-year option. It’s been noted that Murray has had his best training camp with the Chargers by far so if anything, the vibes are trending positive as we inch closer to the regular season.