Kyler Murray announced Monday that he is to pursue a career in football rather than the baseball one he committed to back in 2018.
In my article on #NinetyNineYards in 27th January I talked about the choices Murray had to make.
Murray’s announcement yesterday ended months of speculation and presumably a period of torture for the Oakland A’s who drafted the Gifted One to play baseball in MLB in the 2018 baseball draft.
But what does this announcement actually mean?
Kyler Murray will give up the signing fee that he already been paid and will forego the contractual monies due to him from the contract with the A’s.
But more importantly Murray joins the hundreds of former student athletes pursuing a career in the NFL.
The combine will commence mid February and NFL scouts, who have been scouring tape for months now will get to see first hand what Murray can do. However, I expect that Murray has already spent time with scouts to find out what his real value in the draft is likely to be.
Money talks and for this Sooner to secure a contract in excess of the $15m already promised by the A’s (negotiated upwards by Murray from $4.3m I hasten to add), he will need to be drafted in the first round. And high in that first round.
So while Murray and his advisers will have done their homework, this remains a gamble.
At 5ft’10 he will be one of the smallest QB’s ever to play the game. We know that this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Doug Flutie is 5’10 and Russell Wilson an inch taller. So height isn’t necessarily the issue.
There are also comparisons with Michael Vick and yes, Murray is quick. Once he takes off I defy the quickest defenders in the league to catch him. Which suggests he comes alive outside the pocket. He does but he’s not outside the pocket as much as you might think. And he is an accurate thrower of the ball. With an NFL arm. So boxes ticked there.
Meaning there is upside to taking Murray in the draft.
The downside? He does not have a large physique. At 195lbs he is 20lbs lighter than Russell Wilson who is at the lighter end of the QB scale. Stick him in an offence with poor offensive coverage and I don’t fancy Murray getting up too often after hits from a Mack, a Suh or a Donald.
So where does he end up and at what pick? I’m sure Kliff Kingsbury is ruing his comment whilst at Texas Tech. But surely the Cards have their QB don’t they? Or do they? Was Josh Rosen such a huge success that he’s a sure fire bet to be gunslinging in Tempe next season? But currently, the Cards tossing away last years first round pick so easily seems a little far fetched although not impossible.
But lets say he isn’t picked #1. Well, the 49ers and the Jets have their QB1. Is John Gruden in the market for a new QB? Now that’s a question only John Gruden can answer. If the Raiders don’t address the hole left by Khalil Mack then Gruden doesn’t deserve to be taking his team to Vegas. So lets assume its not the Raiders. Then it’s the Bucs, and nope. Jameis gets another year but this time with Bruce at the helm.
Really the first QB needy team in the top 10 is the NY Giants. Do they pick Murray or Haskins? Until a few months ago neither of these names were on war room walls. But both have since declared and turned draft boards upside down. As I predicted in our “live” Top Ten Mock on the recent 99 Yards College Podcast, I think Big Blue chooses Haskins here.
But wait. Do the Broncos, in a bid to escape the Case Keenum car crash that is, try to jump the line and trade up? In our podcast my colleague @iamalexchinery is adamant that Elway chases Drew Lock. In fact he thinks that pick is a lock….
So where does this leave Murray?
Well we have to assume Murray and his advisers think he is going high to secure the kind of contract that will beat the numbers he was offered at the A’s. An initial $4.3m appears to have been upped to $15m. To get near that kind of money he would need to go anywhere from #1 (last year Baker Mayfield secured a contract worth $32m all guaranteed) to #5 (in 2018 Quenton Nelson’s contract with the Colts is worth $23.8m all guaranteed).
So this is a gamble for Murray.
It is said the A’s won’t go away. But now, post the “will he, wont he” broo-ha-ha, I see Baseball only as a fall back for Murray.
But one thing is certain. If drafted in the first round of the NFL draft, Kyler Murray will be the first player ever. Yes ever. To be drafted in the first round of two competitive sports. If you needed motivation to keep you up until the wee small hours of April 25th, then surely that’s all the motivation you need.
As I said in my previous article, this story has yet more twists and turns. And it still has. Not for the first time i will say..watch this space.
Photo credit : Kyler Murray Twitter @thekylermurray