Everett: Murray worth a first-round pick in NFL Draft
Joe Everett | Wednesday, January 16, 2019
This Sports Authority is not about whether Kyler Murray should play baseball or football.
Frankly, it is his decision and his career, not mine. I’m not about to write about what I think Kyler Murray should do with his sports career, because he should play the sport he actually wants to play. He can’t play both baseball and football (at least not well), so he should follow his heart (and his growing up in Texas and recently declaring for the NFL Draft tells me his heart is with football).
Instead, this Sports Authority is about why NFL general managers should take a calculated risk and draft Kyler Murray in the first round.
The concerns about Kyler Murray are limited, but warranted. The most obvious concern is that he’s too short and frail to play the position in the NFL. Rumored to be somewhere between 5-foot-8 and 5-foot-10, and at about 195 pounds, Murray is smaller than every quarterback in the league, even more so than prototypical “short” quarterbacks — Drew Brees, Russell Wilson and Baker Mayfield — all of whom are about 6 feet in height.
But it’s exactly that last guy I listed — Baker Mayfield — who leads me to have tremendous confidence in Murray’s ability to warrant a first-round pick and become a franchise quarterback.
Coming off an outstanding season at Oklahoma which culminated in his winning the Heisman Trophy, Baker Mayfield was also knocked by many scouts for his lack of size. How did Mayfield fare this past season? Well, he was drafted with the first pick overall by the Cleveland Browns, won the starting job a couple games in and proceeded to lead Cleveland to an almost-winning record — a tremendous feat considering the Browns didn’t win a game the previous season — and breaking the NFL record for touchdown passes for a rookie (27) in the process.
Well, this season at Oklahoma, Kyler Murray had an even better season than Mayfield did last year — in the same offense and with largely the same personnel. Oh, and like Mayfield, he also won the Heisman.
Let’s compare some stats. In their respective final seasons, Murray amassed 5,362 yards of total offense, while Mayfield totaled 4,938. Murray had 54 total touchdowns, while Mayfield generated 48. While Murray’s completion percentage (69 percent) is slightly behind Mayfield’s (70.5 percent in 2017), his 199.2 passer rating just beats that of Mayfield (198.9).
In short, Murray is more explosive and elusive as a runner than Mayfield, but has also shown he can make the same throws that Mayfield could in the same offense. His arm is legit.
Now Mayfield succeeding in the NFL so far doesn’t mean that Kyler Murray will. However, just because no quarterback at Kyler Murray’s size has ever really succeeded at the quarterback position doesn’t mean anyone can. Kyler Murray is a special, even transcendent athlete. From watching his tape, he appears to be a much smaller Michael Vick, and that has to be exciting for NFL teams — many of which desperately need an upgrade at quarterback.
All I know, is if I am a NFL general manager, I am watching his process and NFL Combine very closely, with the aim of pulling the trigger on the Heisman Trophy winner come April.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.