SEATTLE — The Huskies, as expected, have lost another top defensive back early to the NFL draft.
Washington cornerback Byron Murphy on Monday morning announced he will enter the NFL draft, departing UW with two seasons of eligibility remaining. As a third-year sophomore, Murphy is eligible to enter the 2019 draft.
He is the second Huskies defensive back to leave early since the Rose Bowl, following junior safety Taylor Rapp’s announcement last Wednesday.
Both Murphy and Rapp received second-round grades from the NFL College Advisory Committee. They are the third and fourth defensive backs over the past three drafts to leave Washington early, following Budda Baker and Sidney Jones in 2017. Baker and Jones were both second-round choices two years ago.
ESPN’s Todd McShay ranks Murphy as the No. 3 cornerback prospect entering the 2019 draft.
Murphy, from Scottsdale, Ariz., was an Associated Press second-team All-American in 2018 and a first-team all-Pac-12 selection. He was the MVP of the Pac-12 championship game after he returned an interception 66 yards for the only touchdown of the game, helping the Huskies to a 10-3 victory over Utah last month.
After a redshirt season in 2016, Murphy appeared in 20 games for UW the past two seasons, all starts, and posted 74 career tackles, seven interceptions, 27 pass breakups and two forced fumbles. He missed six games in 2017 because of a broken foot.
Murphy signed with the Huskies in February 2016, and later that year UW co-defensive coordinator Jimmy Lake said Murphy had the best ball skills of any high-school cornerback he’d ever recruited.
The Huskies will have a new-look defense in 2019. Counting graduations and the early departures of Rapp and Murphy, the Huskies will lose nine regular starters off the Pac-12’s top-ranked defense.
Junior defensive back Myles Bryant could be the 10th. He told The Seattle Times last month that he is weighing whether to depart early for the NFL draft as well.