It was barely a week ago that the thinking around the NFL was that this was a weak draft year for QBs without any true elite prospects at the position such that any team looking to upgrade at the position would probably be better off waiting for the 2020 draft which is projected to be a QB-rich affair. However, that was last week. This morning, there’s a palpable buzz around the league that when all is said and done no one should be too shocked if QBs are taking with the first two selections overall this coming April 25th. For starters, as noted yesterday, it appears as if Ohio State redshirt sophomore Dwayne Haskins, who announced earlier in the week that he will be entering the 2019 draft, is grading out with a top 5 grade on draft boards around the league.
Meanwhile, there are multiple reports that Oklahoma junior Kyler Murray, this year’s Heisman Trophy winner, will put his name into the upcoming NFL draft, despite the fact he had been expected to pursue a baseball career after being selected with a top ten pick in last year’s MLB draft. Murray was chosen by the Oakland A’s with the ninth pick of the 2018 MLB draft and signed a deal in June that included a $4.7 million signing bonus. As part of the deal, Murray was permitted to play football for the Sooners for one final season before reporting to spring training with the A’s next month. What changed, of course, is that Murray went out and won the Heisman after throwing for 4,400 yards and 42 TDs, while rushing for another 1,000 yards and 12 scores last fall as he led the Sooners to the college football playoffs. It also appears that Murray simply likes football better.
However, simply declaring for the draft does not necessarily guarantee that Murray will end up in the NFL, but it certainly increases the chances that Oklahoma’s quarterback will decide to go pro in football rather than baseball. In fact, Murray’s big decision will come in mid-February when he has to decide whether to attend the scouting combine in Indianapolis or participate in spring training with the A’s, both of which start around about the same time next month. Of course, Murray will have to refund the bonus he signed with Oakland if he chooses football; however, while $4.7M sounds like a lot of guaranteed money, in fact, its actually less than all 32 first round picks at the 2019 draft received.
And right now most NFL analysts concede that Murray is almost assuredly going to be selected in the the opening round of the upcoming draft. The big question is how early will he go. No question, Murray is a phenomenal athlete with close to world-class speed and quickness, as well as the arm strength to make all the throws at the next level. However, Murray is barely 5-10, 195, which is awfully small by prototype NFL QB standards, although obviously other ‘short’ QBs like Drew Brees, who is a tad over 6-feet even and around 215 pounds, and Russell Wilson, who is around 5-10.5 and 215 pounds, have had tremendous success in the NFL. And there is also draft precedence as Baker Mayfield, whom Murray replaced at Oklahoma this fall, was the top pick at the 2018 draft despite measuring at just 6-0.5, 215. Up until today, the GBN hasn’t ranked Murray, figuring he was unlikely to be in the 2019 draft, but with today’s news he has been introduced as the #2 QB behind Haskins on the positional ranking and the 8th overall prospect on the GBN Big Board.
One person who has gone on the record regarding Murray’s NFL prospects is newly appointed Arizona head coach Kliff Kingsbury who coached against Murray at Oklahoma this fall at Texas Tech. In fact, prior to taking over with the Cardinals, Kingsbury was effusive in his praise for Murray whom he described as a ‘freak!’ whom he’d take him with the first pick of the draft if he could. Said Kingsbury: “I know he’s signed up to play baseball, but he is a dominant football player and I would take him with the first pick.” Well, now Kingsbury has the first so we shall see how it plays. Indeed, one of the hot rumors making the rounds today is that the Cardinals could take Murray with the first pick this year and then shop Josh Rosen, who had an up-and-down rookie season are he was selected with the 10th pick in this past April’s draft. Several Cardinals’ executives have already denied the possibility of such a scenario, but there’s a lot of sorting out to be done between now and April 25th. Stay tuned!