Let­ting it fly Is it the right move? Ei­ther way, what a blast it’ll be find­ing out

The Dallas Morning News - - Sportsday - Twit­ter: @Ksh­er­ring­tondmn

Next time Kyler Mur­ray goes on Dan Pa­trick’s show, at least he won’t have to just sit there and smile when the host asks if it’ ll be base­ball or foot­ball.

Mur­ray fi­nally an­swered Mon­day. Right or wrong, this should be fun.

Be­cause we’re about to see what Johnny Foot­ball could have been.

“Foot­ball has been my love and pas­sion my en­tire life,” Mur­ray tweeted. “I was raised to play QB, and I very much look for­ward to ded­i­cat­ing 100 per­cent of my­self to be­ing the best quar­ter­back pos­si­ble and win­ning NFL cham­pi­onships . ...

“I ea­gerly await the op­por­tu­nity to con­tinue to prove to

NFL de­ci­sion mak­ers that I am the fran­chise QB in this draft.” Take that, Billy Beane. You, too, Scott Bo­ras. Base­ball’s loss is foot­ball’s gain, and this is a huge loss for base­ball, make no mis­take about it. The game needs dy­namic ath­letes with broad ap­peal. The gam­ble on whether he’d ever make it big in base­ball would have been con­sid­ered worth it. The NFL doesn’t need any mar­ket­ing help, but changes in the league made the tim­ing per­fect for Mur­ray.

Five years ago ... heck, maybe just last year, Mur­ray’s de­ci­sion would have been made for him. He’d have taken the $4.6 mil­lion that Oak­land gave him as the ninth pick of the draft and em­barked on a promis­ing base­ball ca­reer.

Back then, NFL types would have watched Mur­ray’s film at Ok­la­homa and said he’d make a re­ally good slot re­ceiver. No­body would have wanted to take a chance on a quar­ter­back listed at 5­10, de­pend­ing on how he’s wear­ing his hair. And it’s not just that he’s short for a quar­ter­back. He’s a com­pact pack­age, you might say.

The NFL prefers that its quar­ter­backs look like Cam New­ton: tall enough to see over a wall of de­fen­sive line­men and big enough to ab­sorb the pun­ish­ment.

Frankly, it’s still the way most NFL teams would want to go. Any­one look­ing for a quar­ter­back in April might elect the safer bet of Ohio State’s Dwayne Hask­ins, who’s 6­3, 220.

On the other hand, some teams are not play­ing it safe. Ari­zona just bet on a col­lege coach with a los­ing record.

Kliff Kings­bury said last fall while still em­ployed at Texas Tech that if he had the first pick of the draft, he’d take Mur­ray. He’s got first dibs now. This could get in­ter­est­ing.

Would the Cards re­ally be so bold as to give up on Josh Rosen af­ter only one sea­son? Doesn’t seem likely. Chances are the rea­son they hired Kings­bury in the first place was to see if he could do for Rosen what Sean Mcvay did for Jared Goff in Los An­ge­les.

But what about the Raiders, draft­ing fourth? Jon Gru­den didn’t ex­actly give Derek Carr any props last sea­son. The Giants, Jaguars and Ben­gals draft sixth, sev­enth and 11th. All could be in the mar­ket for quar­ter­backs. Zac Tay­lor, Cincin­nati’s new coach, is fresh off Mcvay’s staff in Los An­ge­les.

No mat­ter what the teams in the top 10 do, here’s bet­ting Mur­ray doesn’t slide past the Dol­phins at 13. Mi­ami needs some buzz. Mur­ray would cer­tainly pro­vide it.

Cleve­land once hoped Johnny Manziel would do the same, only it didn’t work out so hot. The sim­i­lar­i­ties here are no­table be­sides just the size. Both are Texas high school quar­ter­backs who played at Texas A&M, won Heis­mans and demon­strated feet as for­mi­da­ble as their arms.

The dif­fer­ence: Mur­ray is a bet­ter passer than Manziel in ev­ery con­ceiv­able fash­ion, from arm strength to ac­cu­racy. He’s also a far su­pe­rior stu­dent of the game, hav­ing been coached up since birth by his fa­ther, Kevin, a pretty fair quar­ter­back him­self.

Give him the right sys­tem and a play­maker or two and Mur­ray could do for a team what his Soon­ers pre­de­ces­sor, Baker May­field, did for the Browns in his rookie sea­son. May­field may be bet­ter at run­ning through his pro­gres­sions, but Mur­ray proved last sea­son that he’s May­field’s equal in vir­tu­ally any cat­e­gory.

And as it re­lates to com­pa­ra­ble quick­ness and speed for an NFL quar­ter­back, only Michael Vick comes to mind.

As for what Mur­ray’s giv­ing up, base­ball could have pro­vided a longer ca­reer and cer­tainly a safer one. Maybe more money down the road, though NFL quar­ter­backs don’t come cheap. Also pos­si­ble that Mur­ray re­sumes his base­ball ca­reer if the NFL doesn’t work out.

Just the same, I wouldn’t bet against him. Mur­ray’s made up his mind. In the words of a leg­endary pro­moter, get your pop­corn ready.

2018 File Photo/ Tom Fox

Kyler Mur­ray holds his Most Out­stand­ing Player tro­phy af­ter quar­ter­back­ing Ok­la­homa to vic­tory over Texas in the Big 12 ti­tle game at AT&T Sta­dium. The two­sport stand­out from Allen said Mon­day that he’s all­in on foot­ball.

Ksh­er­ring­[email protected]­las­news.com

KEVIN SHER­RING­TON

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