It has been a question asked for many a month now, but we finally have an answer – Kyler Murray wants to play in the NFL. This is despite only last year being selected 9th overall by the Oakland Athletics in the MLB Draft.
A lot has changed since then, with Murray taking over from Heisman winning quarterback Baker Mayfield as the starting QB for the Oklahoma Sooners. Murray excelled, ending the season with 4,361 yards passing and 42 touchdowns. In addition to that, he racked up over 1,000 yards rushing and 12 more touchdowns on the ground. This resulted in a second consecutive Heisman winning quarterback out of OU.
One thing that is for sure, is that Murray is going pro in one sport or the other. If he chooses the NFL, is he making the right choice?
Murray is listed at 5″10 and 195lbs. These may even be a little generous and they are the numbers doubters are using to argue that he would be better off sticking with baseball. There is obviously legitimate concern that Murray does not have the size to withstand the physical demands of the NFL, nor to play the position of quarterback.
Traditionally, the prototype quarterback stands at way over six foot tall and over two hundred pounds in weight. Think of someone like Andrew Luck, who is 6″4 and 240lbs. However, trends do change, as Russell Wilson has proved over the last seven years. Wilson is listed at 5″11 and 215lbs – marginally bigger than Murray yes, but still considered small for an NFL QB. Yet it is undeniable that he is established as an elite signal caller in the NFL. Baker Mayfield is another young QB that is not considered prototypical, but showed hugely promising signs in a debut season that may well win him the Offensive Rookie of the Year award.
One major downside for Murray is that he’d have to give the Oakland A’s a big chunk of change back, approximately $4.66m. But let’s look at this with some context.
Some MLB scouting experts have suggested that his baseball development has been stunted, due to his commitment to play football at Oklahoma for one more year. That means that he is behind his peers and will likely take longer to get to the big leagues, likely two to three years. That would mean that he is then another three years away from arbitration, meaning his first big payday in baseball would not come until 2023 or 2024. If this happened, he would not be able to test free agency until 2026 or 2027, when he would be 29 or 30. At that age, it is highly unlikely that he would get any more than one significant contract.
If he is drafted in the first round in the NFL, he will make his money back and given his rise to prominence over the last few months, the endorsement deals will take him well over the top. If he establishes himself as a franchise quarterback, he’s looking at $100 million. Sceptics will say that this is unlikely, but those sceptics likely doubted Russell Wilson. Last year a number of people doubted Baker Mayfield’s credentials as a number one pick. Lamar Jackson, another undersized QB, has also been handed the keys in Baltimore as they look to move on from Joe Flacco. Even if Murray doesn’t cut it as a franchise QB, the likes of Matt Schaub ($90.6m), Mark Sanchez ($74.2m) and Matt Cassel ($65.5m) – all journeyman QBs – have made significant money in their careers.
Watching Murray play this season, you can see that he is undoubtedly talented. He is accurate (69% completion percentage compared to Mayfield’s 70%), insanely mobile and, perhaps most importantly, possesses incredible touch on his passes. Touch is a skill that can’t be taught, suggesting that he has the natural ability to make it at the pro level.
There is a suggestion that Murray has already got an inkling that he’ll go in the first round, that he would not declare for the Draft if he thought he’d be going in the third or fourth round. Look out for the Jags, Broncos, Giants and Dolphins to take the plunge. A lot of people remain steadfast in their view that Murray is not a first round pick. Russell Wilson was a third round pick, but there is no doubt that in today’s NFL, he’s a guaranteed first rounder. The game is changing, due in large part to the influence of Wilson. Teams have softened their desire for the prototype QB, they want someone who can simply do the job to a high standard. Whether or not Kyler Murray is capable of that remains to be seen, but it is exciting that it won’t be long until we find out.