1. Kyler Murray (RS JR) – Oklahoma
Height: 5’10″ Weight: 195 lbs
Career Stats: 29 GP, 5,406 passing yards, 50 TDs, 14 INTs, 67.4 comp. %
Player Comparison: n/a
Projected Round: 1
The most difficult part of my evaluation of Kyler Murray was finding a modern-day comparison of Murray’s game. The lazy take I think would be comparing him to Michael Vick, but other than his running ability, I don’t see the similarities as a pocket passer. In my opinion, Murray’s a far more polished passer from the pocket than Vick ever was. The other comparison is probably Steve Young, but again, I think Murray’s game is so unique that for me, it’s doing him a disservice comparing his game to anyone else’s. If you could mold together Russell Wilson’s passing ability from the pocket and Tyreek Hill’s speed and quickness, maybe we’re closer to a true comparison.
I think the common narrative around Murray is that he’s too small and, at 5’10″, he’d be the smallest quarterback in the league. Yet, somehow, at that size the problems you’d think a short quarterback might have – like batted balls and poor ability to see over his offensive line – Murray doesn’t seem to have. When you turn on the film, those aren’t issues that come up on any sort of consistent basis. He has an unbelievable ability to extend plays and put the fear of god into defensive coordinators with his breakaway speed. But in most cases, Murray isn’t using that speed to become a runner. Instead, he’s using it to find a better platform from which to make game-changing throws. His 61.4-percent completion percentage on throws of 20+ yards is first among draft-eligible quarterbacks on 48 attempts – an eye-opening number. But he’s not just a long ball thrower; Murray also led all draft-eligible quarterbacks on open throws 10+ yards. So short or long, Murray was consistently one of the most accomplished pocket passers in college football. He also led all college quarterbacks in window throws 10+ yards down the field by a lot. The numbers tell a story of incredible efficiency.
There’s no doubt that his lack of experience will give some of his doubters ammunition, but isn’t that the case for most of the guys in this class? Other than Drew Lock and Daniel Jones, the top guys are all lacking experience. But between Dwayne Haskins and Murray, both of whom only have one year as the starting quarterback, they’ve played in bigger games on bigger stages than Lock and Jones combined.
What They’re Saying:
“Murray is like a complex burgundy with notes of Baker Mayfield, Johnny Manziel and Russell Wilson in his play, but like any quarterback, he’ll need to prove he can recognize disguised coverages and work on-time from the pocket to go from flash talent to playoff winner. Teams drafting him need to have the right coordinator and must be committed to framing their offense specifically to Murray’s strengths and weaknesses, which could require additional roster re-configuration. Murray is an electric talent with a live arm, good mental makeup and the skill-set to produce at a high level in the right offense.”
-Lance Zierlein (NFL.com)
“Far and away PFF’s No.1 prospect in this year’s draft is Oklahoma QB Kyler Murray. He finished the season as the highest-graded quarterback in college football. Questions arise regarding his size, but those should be put on hold as Murray’s pocket presence and athleticism give him great potential to cause chaos for defenses at the NFL level.”
-Pro Football Focus
The Cardinals should confirm the obvious and make the selection they were born to make. Sure, they drafted Josh Rosen 10th overall just last season and spent resources in order to move up to make the pick. Most might think it’s foolish to “waste” picks on multiple quarterbacks, especially after tanking Rosen’s return value in a potential trade.
Having said that, there are very few opportunities to draft first overall and even fewer opportunities to select a quarterback like Kyler Murray. He’s certainly no Andrew Luck; there is no guarantee he turns into a legit franchise quarterback or becomes even as good as Josh Rosen. But with a new head coach who favors the playmaking ability Murray possesses and Arizona’s inability to protect their quarterback with no real additions to their offensive line in free agency, going with a quarterback with the ability to run away from defenders might literally be their only option.
Vs. Oklahoma State
[video src="https://media.giphy.com/media/QAJ1z4RAT2taUSGZJG/giphy.mp4" /]
Are you kidding me, smalls? This throw in most cases would make me spit up my drink. But this is just another throw for Murray – one you’ll see a few times in the coming videos. The ball placement and timing with which this throw was made was NFL-caliber. He has an uncanny ability to make these sideline window throws look easy, and that’ll need to transfer over to the pro game; I have no reason to believe it won’t. Big-time throw from a big-time quarterback.
Vs. Oklahoma State
[video src="https://media.giphy.com/media/S44vPJbecRpI6h3nkq/giphy.mp4" /]
This one is a great example of Murray’s ability to extend plays and make winning throws on the move. Most folks might peg Murray to tuck and run this after escaping the pressure inside the pocket, but that would come from someone who hasn’t watched Murray closely enough. This is the type of play you see time and time again from Murray, and it’s one of the plays I think translates better than any other at the next level.
Vs. Oklahoma State
[video src="https://media.giphy.com/media/Qst1YOBA22ploFQzvb/giphy.mp4" /]
Another absolute dime from Murray to the left sideline – a throw he’s very comfortable making in a window. It looks like a disguised Cover 2 from the defense, and Murray reads and reacts to it perfectly. The hole in this particular defense, though, is damn small. Impressive throw and timing again from Murray.
[video src="https://media.giphy.com/media/JOABIjKmPfdDkgbSY6/giphy.mp4" /]
Another, “are you kidding me” type of throw. Don’t show any Marquise Brown fans this one, but in blanketed coverage over 50 yards down the field, to put it this on the money just for it to be dropped must have been frustrating. Having said that, talk about putting the ball where only your receiver can catch it. I’m thoroughly impressed following this game at Murray’s ability to stretch the field at his size. You wouldn’t peg him as the “arm guy” that you’d peg say a Josh Allen as due to his size, but Murray has the second-most impressive arm in the draft right behind Buffalo’s Tyree Jackson. The ultimate equalizer.
[video src="https://media.giphy.com/media/SttpPZ0CRwFWT1fJ31/giphy.mp4" /]
This throw blows my mind, and I think you had to have played quarterback at some point in your life at a competitive level to fully appreciate the level of difficulty on this throw. It takes a strict combination of timing, trajectory, release point, and touch to put this ball where Murray did. This is a throw quarterbacks practice every single day at practice. It’s a play that is likely in every single playbook at every level of the game. I can firmly say that I don’t know another instance of the red zone fade I’ve seen executed more impressively. Murray is the real deal and can make every throw, including throws 99-percent of guys wouldn’t even attempt to pull off.