Just a few months ago, Kyler Murray was considered an outstanding college quarterback with a future in Major League Baseball. After all, the top-10 pick by the Oakland A's had previously said 2018 would be his final season in football. But that assessment changed in January when he formally announced that he would play football, and now he's gone from bona fide first-round pick to likely No. 1 overall selection, despite the fact that he stands just 5-foot-10.
Murray benefits from those who came before him, starting nearly two decades ago with Drew Brees and more recently, Russell Wilson, as well as the man who preceded him at the University of Oklahoma, the 2018 first-overall pick, Baker Mayfield. Murray share commonalities with all of them but takes it to the extreme; he's the fastest, has the best arm -- but he's also the shortest. Opinions are mixed on how his height might affect his abilities at the next level, but there's enough interest to overlook the fact that he would become the shortest starting quarterback in the NFL -- in part because quarterbacks are at a premium, but also because he is so unbelievably talented.
Murray began his college career at Texas A&M where he played in eight games as a freshman in 2015 and completed 60 percent of his passes with five touchdowns and seven interceptions. He transferred to Oklahoma after that season and served as Mayfield's backup in 2017, when he attempted just 21 passes. But he earned the starting job ahead of the 2018 campaign and in 14 games Murray completed 69 percent of his throws with 42 touchdowns and just seven interceptions. He also rushed for another 1,001 yards and 12 scores, averaging 7.2 yards per carry.
Among all FBS quarterbacks, Murray ranked first in Pro Football Focus' adjusted-completion-vs.-pressure metric, and was second in both adjusted completion vs. the blitz and overall adjusted completion percentage.
Combine/pro day results
28 1/2 inches
9 1/2 inches
Murray was not measured at his pro day and did not take part in drills but he did take part in the throwing session:
Strengths: Has unparalleled athleticism and mobility, both in the pocket and when he decides to run. Has one of the best arms in this class; the ball explodes out of his hand almost effortlessly. This throw against Alabama in the playoffs embodies all that Murray does well:
First, there's the quickness in stepping up in the pocket to avoid Alabama pass rusher Anfernee Jennings from the blindside, then there's keeping his eyes up downfield, and instead of running he throws a 49-yard laser to Charleston Rambo that hits him in stride, just out of reach of two Alabama defensive backs.
Weaknesses: Murray is 5-foot-10. More than that, however, is that he played the 2018 season at around 190 pounds. Yes, he bulked up to 207 for the combine but he doesn't appear to have Russell Wilson's frame in that he could add another 10-15 pounds. Durability is a concern for some NFL teams though Murray was sacked just 18 times in 2018. He also had just one year as a starter; after transferring from Texas A&M after the 2015 season, Murray sat out 2016, watched Mayfield in 2017 and finally earned the starting job last season.
Steve Young. Here me out on this one. Young was an ultra-efficient, frightening dual-threat quarterback at the collegiate level who could win from inside the pocket and could erupt with his legs thanks to high-level athleticism. That is Murray to a T. Young wasn't the biggest quarterback either at around 6-foot-0 and 210-ish pounds. It wasn't until Young landed with the 49ers that he reached his full potential -- and became a Hall of Fame signal-caller. He sat behind Joe Montana for his first four seasons in San Francisco and didn't become the starter until his age-30 (!) season. Murray's going to be starting for whichever team drafts him just a little earlier than that. Anyway, I'll admit I wasn't scouting Young when he came out of BYU after the 1983 season. In fact, I wasn't alive yet. But I do remember the way he could take over a game with pinpoint accuracy or as a scrambler in the NFL. Murray only showed it for one year in college, but I truly believe he has "take over the game" type skills as a refined passer and runner. Young was pretty unique. So is Murray.
NFL teams in play to draft Murray
Let's start at the top: The Cardinals have the first-overall pick and despite drafting Josh Rosen 10th overall a year ago, it sure feels like they're all in on Murray now. There are the obvious ties with new coach Kliff Kingsbury, who said last fall, while he was the coach at Texas Tech, that "I've never seen him have a poor outing ... I'd take him with the first pick of the draft if I could."
Months later and here we are. Yes, Kingsburgy insisted in February that Rosen "is our guy" but here's what CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora wrote in March, shortly after the NFL combine:
"Something that steadily built and then caught fire at the combine last week refuses to go away. And that is because it is going to happen. Every conversation I have had since getting back from Indianapolis -- including several with people who would have first-hand knowledge of such an arrangement between said player and team -- has led me to believe, thoroughly and completely, that this is going to happen."
"This," of course, is that the Cardinals have every intention of taking Murray.
Other teams that should be interested in Murray but either won't have an opportunity to take him or don't think he's worth it:
Raiders: With four of the first 35 picks, including three first-rounders, there's a case to be made that Jon Gruden could fall in love with Murray and try to package some of those picks to move up and get him. It would be more prudent to rebuild the defense and continue to add offensive weapons for Derek Carr ... but when has Gruden ever been accused of prudence?
Giants: All indications -- from former team executives to former league executives to media reports -- are that the Giants won't take a quarterback with the No. 6 pick and aren't interested in either Murray or Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins. More likely, it seems: New York targets Duke's Daniel Jones with either the No. 17 or No. 37 selection.