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Lydon Murtha, Nebraska OT: the first of three picks in the seventh round, huge-framed (6'-7", 315) Lydon Murtha was a significant contributor at right tackle from day one. A massive kid coming out of Minnesota, Lydon was a Rivals four-star, and Tom Lemming at ESPN had him as ranked as his class's #1 overall OT recruit, nationwide. His official bio reveals how hard it is to write bios for players that don't generate statistics, but reading it definitely gives a sense of his career. Murtha was going to play right away at Nebraska, but a smattering of injuries in spring ball and training camp got him a redshirt year. As a redshirt frosh, he saw action in nine games, and was pressed into service for three starts at left tackle, due to an injury to the starter. His sophomore year, he played every game, and again started three games at left tackle. Finally, he got his chance to start in his junior season, starting this time at right tackle for the first eight games, until an injury forced him to the sidelines for the last four games. Still, he made the Honorable Mention All-Big 12 list, and was also named to the Academic All-Big 12 first team. His senior year, unfortunately, was a clone of his junior year. He punished people from the right side for eight games--missing the first two and last two--and got another round of Honorable Mentions for his trouble.
There is no doubt that this kid has an NFL body:
Scott Boehm/Getty Images
Seriously, the guy is 6'-7", 315, and looks like he could add another 30 pounds of weight without even showing it. At the combine, he led all offensive linemen with both his 4.89 40 time, and his 4.34 short shuttle. Allow me to repeat that for emphasis: Lydon Murtha ran a 4.89 40 and 4.34 short shuttle at the combine. These times are nearly identical to James Laurenitis', except Lydon is half a foot taller and 70 pounds heavier. There's absolutely no doubt that physically, Murtha looks like a franchise tackle in the making. He's got all the size, all the speed, all the agility. The problem, of course, was right there in the bio: Murtha's been unable to stay healthy. His senior year it was first a staph infection, then a sprained foot. In 2007 it was a different foot injury. In 2005 it was a bruised calf, a hamstring, and a shoulder . . . everything I've read says the same thing: the kid is a fine tackle when healthy, but there have been just enough nagging injuries to make you worry if he'll stay healthy. The other issue is productivity. He's been quite good when healthy, but not the dominant force you'd expect given his size. You can see it in how he was moved between right and left tackle . . . if he was unreservedly amazing, he'd have been placed at LT and left there.
Nevertheless, what expert analysis I've read says they can't believe he was there for the Lions in the mid-seventh. Here's an absolutely OUTSTANDING video breakdown of Murtha's skill set, as shown in predraft camps, practices, and the combine:
I think that tells you everything you need to know. I truly believe that this kid has the ability to be a quality starter in the NFL--it's up to Murtha himself, as the video says. However, it's also up to the Lions' coaching staff to properly build, groom, and motivate this young man so that he can become the player he was born with the potential to be.