Is Kyler Mur­ray tall enough to play QB in the NFL?

Sea­hawks’ Wil­son tops a short list of suc­cess­ful quar­ter­backs un­der 6 feet

Albuquerque Journal - - FOOTBALL - BY SCOTT BELL THE DAL­LAS MORN­ING NEWS

Don’t blink or you’ll miss the next Kyler Mur­ray head­line. Be­tween the Heis­man Tro­phy race, the Col­lege Foot­ball Play­off, the NFL draft early dec­la­ra­tion dead­line and the up­com­ing Ma­jor League Base­ball sea­son, Mur­ray’s name has been at the cen­ter of a num­ber of key sports sto­ry­lines over the past few months.

But while the most pop­u­lar ques­tion sur­round­ing Mur­ray and his fu­ture cen­ters around the up­com­ing de­ci­sion be­tween foot­ball and base­ball, there’s an­other loom­ing ques­tion that has taken a bit of a back­seat. Can Mur­ray, who would be the first QB drafted since 2000 that was 5-foot-10 or shorter, be suc­cess­ful if he ul­ti­mately goes the pro­fes­sional foot­ball route?

Height hasn’t been a hin­drance for Mur­ray so far in his foot­ball career. He earned Ga­torade Na­tional Player of the Year hon­ors while win­ning three straight state ti­tles in high school. And he won the Heis­man Tro­phy dur­ing his only sea­son as Ok­la­homa’s start­ing QB in col­lege. Sub-6-foot QBs have had con­sid­er­able amounts of suc­cess at those lev­els, though. The same can not be said for the NFL.

Not only that, but there has been some dis­agree­ment as to just how short Mur­ray is. Ok­la­homa listed him at 5-foot-11 on his base­ball bio. Then he was listed 5-foot-10 on his foot­ball bio. Some talk­ing heads in the me­dia claim he’s closer to 5-foot-8. Last month, Ok­la­homa as­sis­tant ath­letic di­rec­tor Mike Houck took to Twit­ter to set the record straight, clar­i­fy­ing that Mur­ray of­fi­cially mea­sured in at just un­der 5-foot-10 in socks when the Soon­ers’ strength and con­di­tion­ing staff mea­sured him at the be­gin­ning of the sea­son.

As­sum­ing Mur­ray goes through the NFL draft process, he’ll have his height mea­sured at the NFL scout­ing com­bine, which be­gins on Feb. 26 in In­di­anapo­lis. Bar­ring an un­fore­seen growth spurt, Mur­ray would be look­ing to be­come the first 5-foot-10 QB drafted since the Tampa Bay Buc­ca­neers se­lected Georgia Tech’s Joe Hamil­ton with the 234th over­all pick in the 2000 NFL draft. Hamil­ton went on to ap­pear in one career game, had zero pass­ing at­tempts and his lone career rush­ing at­tempt went for mi­nus-2 yards.

That doesn’t make Hamil­ton unique, though. He was just an­other ca­su­alty in an NFL that’s dom­i­nated by QBs 6 feet or taller.

No­table NFL QBs un­der 6 feet Rus­sell Wil­son (5-foot-11)

In 2018, Wil­son set the NFL record for most touch­downs in a sea­son thrown by a QB less than 6-feet tall (35). He broke the record that was pre­vi­ously held by — you guessed it — him­self. Wil­son threw for 34 touch­downs in both 2015 and 2017, mean­ing he has had the three most pro­lific pass­ing sea­sons in NFL his­tory by a sub-6-foot QB.

Sonny Jur­gensen (5-foot-11)

In 1983, Jur­gensen be­came the first QB un­der 6-feet tall to be in­ducted into the Pro Foot­ball Hall of Fame. The five-time Pro Bowler and 1960 NFL Cham­pion split his pro­fes­sional career play­ing quar­ter­back for the Philadel­phia Ea­gles and Wash­ing­ton Red­skins. He led the league in pass­ing yards five dif­fer­ent times and was tops in TD passes twice.

Jim Finks (5-foot-11)

Finks is the only other sub 6-foot QB in the Pro Foot­ball Hall of Fame. He was en­shrined in 1995, one year after his death. In Finks’ fi­nal NFL sea­son for the Steel­ers, he led the NFL in pass­ing com­ple­tions and yards. After his on-field re­tire­ment, he spent 35 years in var­i­ous front of­fice roles, in­clud­ing play­ing key roles in the build­ing of Su­per Bowl teams for Min­nesota and Chicago.

Sean Pay­ton (5-foot-11)

Pay­ton has one of the most mod­est stat lines in NFL his­tory. After brief stints in the Arena Foot­ball League and Cana­dian Foot­ball league, he played on the Bears’ strike­break­ing team of 1987 for three games. His career line: 8-23 pass­ing for 79 yards, 1 INT and 0 TDs. His coach­ing ac­co­lades are much more im­pres­sive, head­lined by his Su­per Bowl XLIV ti­tle as the Saints’ head coach.

Doug Flu­tie (5-foot-10)

Flu­tie had the most far-reach­ing suc­cess of any sub 6-foot QB. He won the Heis­man Tro­phy for Bos­ton Col­lege in 1984. He then be­came the high­est-paid pro foot­ball player as a rookie in the USFL un­til the league folded. Most of his pro­fes­sional suc­cess came in the CFL, where he was a six-time league MVP. He wrapped up his career with an eight-year run in the NFL, high­lighted by a Pro Bowl berth in 1998.

Ed­die LeBaron (5-foot-9)

LeBaron is a four-time Pro Bowler and won NFL Rookie of the Year hon­ors in 1952 as part of the Red­skins. De­spite spend­ing the ma­jor­ity of his career in Wash­ing­ton (he’s a part of the fran­chise’s Ring of Fame), LeBaron be­came the Cow­boys’ first start­ing QB in fran­chise his­tory when the team con­vinced him to come out of re­tire­ment in 1960. He ended up play­ing four years in Dal­las.

Davey O’Brien (5-foot-7)

The name­sake for the Davey O’Brien Award, awarded to the top col­le­giate QB, was one of the short­est QBs in NFL his­tory. A Woodrow Wil­son and TCU grad­u­ate, Wil­son (Philadel­phia Ea­gles) had just a twoyear NFL career fol­low­ing his Heis­man Tro­phy sea­son in 1938. He had a pro­duc­tive two-year stint, though, earn­ing First-team All-Pro hon­ors in 1939 and Sec­ond-team in 1940.

Non-NFL no­ta­bles: AAFC—Er­mal Allen (5-foot-11)

Allen’s on-field con­tri­bu­tions were lim­ited, but he still had a last­ing im­pact on the lo­cal sports scene. His one-year play­ing career was for the AAFC Cham­pion Cleve­land Browns. Allen later spent 21 years in the Cow­boys or­ga­ni­za­tion as RB/QB coach and later ran the fran­chise’s re­search and de­vel­op­ment de­part­ment. He was a part of the fran­chise for their Su­per Bowl VI and XII wins.

AFL—Mar­lin Briscoe (5-foot-10)

As a rookie with Den­ver in 1968, Briscoe be­came the first black start­ing quar­ter­back in the AFL. After set­ting a Bron­cos rookie record for most touch­down passes by a rookie, he shifted over to wide re­ceiver, where he played for the rest of his nine-year career that in­cluded a Pro Bowl berth and two Su­per Bowl ti­tles with the Mi­ami Dol­phins once the AFL and NFL merged.

SUE OGROCKI/ASSOCIATED PRESS FILE

For­mer Ok­la­homa quar­ter­back Kyler Mur­ray will soon have to choose be­tween a career in foot­ball or one in base­ball. His height, listed some­where around 5-foot-10, will be de­bated if he opts to be­come an NFL quar­ter­back.

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