How A’s Kyler Mur­ray mea­sures up as a QB.

San Francisco Chronicle - - FRONT PAGE - Ann Killion is a San Fran­cisco Chron­i­cle colum­nist. Email: akil­[email protected]­i­ Twit­ter: @annkil­lion

What a show­case for quar­ter­backs we have this week­end. If per­haps the least elite of the lot is the reign­ing Su­per Bowl MVP, you know it’s a good group.

An­drew Luck vs. Patrick Ma­homes was the come­back kid against the league’s new­est, bright­est phe­nom. Dak Prescott vs. Jared Goff was a matchup of two young quar­ter­backs who have suf­fered bumps but whose fu­tures seem in­cred­i­bly bright. Philip Rivers vs. Tom Brady is a matchup of two of the great­est vet­eran quar­ter­backs in the game to­day. And Su­per Bowl MVP Nick Foles vs. pos­si­ble league MVP Drew Brees is a matchup of ul­ti­mate win­ners.

Which leads me to won­der, where would Kyler Mur­ray fit into this quar­ter­back-driven NFL world?

Now that Mur­ray, the A’s prized base­ball prospect, is ex­pected to de­clare for the NFL draft (the dead­line is Mon­day), the world is of­fer­ing the 21-year-old plenty of opin­ions.

So, I might as well join in. Mur­ray prob­a­bly doesn’t need any parental ad­vice — he has two lovely par­ents. His dad was a quar­ter­back at Texas A&M and might be en­cour­ag­ing his Heis­man Tro­phy-win­ning son to pur­sue foot­ball. But he also has a mom, and we know how many moms feel about foot­ball: not great.

As a mom, I would say to Mur­ray, “Are you crazy? Take the guar­an­teed con­tract, keep your brain safe, be a ground­break­ing base­ball ath­lete. Those huge de­fen­sive pass rush­ers will be try­ing to kill you.”

Kyler is prob­a­bly not lis­ten­ing to me.

Mur­ray can sling the ball, for sure. But his wheels are what re­ally set him apart — he’s light­ning fast. But he looked small even in the col­lege game, and while he’s listed at 5foot-10, those in the know think he’s much closer to 5-8. That’s re­ally small for a quar­ter­back. That makes Brees (listed at 6 feet), Rus­sell Wil­son (5-11) and Baker May­field (6-1) — all con­sid­ered on the short side among NFL QBs — look like be­he­moths.

If you’re look­ing for a big­name col­lege quar­ter­back who looks like he could fit into the NFL right now, bet on Clem­son’s cham­pi­onship-win­ning Trevor Lawrence. He’s 6-5 with an ex­cel­lent arm and can see over huge of­fen­sive linemen.

Mur­ray didn’t look fan­tas­tic in his fi­nal game, the Col­lege Foot­ball Play­off semi­fi­nal at the Or­ange Bowl. He had an ex­cel­lent sec­ond half but a be­lowa­v­er­age first half. At half­time it looked like a sure thing that the A’s would hold on to their supremely tal­ented prospect, who agreed to a $4.66 mil­lion deal after be­ing se­lected ninth over­all.

If Mur­ray goes to the NFL com­bine next month, he’ll be­gin to learn the harsh­ness of the league. His height will be ques­tioned. He will face un­flat­ter­ing com­par­isons to some past Heis­man Tro­phy win­ners. The 2016 win­ner, Lamar Jack­son, had a ter­ri­ble play­off game against the Charg­ers, when the de­fense seemed to have com­pletely fig­ured out how to con­tain him. Johnny Manziel (2012) never made it in the league. Robert Grif­fin III (2011), an­other du­althreat quar­ter­back, has been in­jured, in­ef­fec­tive and barely ac­tive for the past five years.

Un­fair com­par­isons? Sure. But the NFL is not ex­actly known for cre­ative think­ing. It fol­lows pat­terns and trends. And the cur­rent trend seems to be away from dual-threat, un­der­sized quar­ter­backs. Wil­son is still a great QB, and like Mur­ray was also drafted to play base­ball, but he has al­ways been viewed more as an aber­ra­tion than the pro­to­type of a sure thing.

The A’s are keep­ing it close to the vest, but they must cer­tainly be try­ing to re­work lan­guage in Mur­ray’s con­tract to ac­com­mo­date him. Sure, they could get their money back if Mur­ray goes to the NFL, but they won’t want to burn any bridges. They will re­tain his base­ball rights and will want to keep their and Mur­ray’s op­tions open.

After all, he’s only 21. Yes, the on-ramp to fame and reg­u­lar

play­ing time is shorter in foot­ball. But he could have a longer ca­reer and ul­ti­mately make more money in base­ball.

He’s been known to change his mind be­fore. He orig­i­nally went to his fa­ther’s alma mater, Texas A&M, be­fore he de­cided to trans­fer to Ok­la­homa after los­ing the start­ing job. A bit of a fash­ion­ista, the first thing he did when he was drafted by the A’s was pull up the uni­form to en­vi­sion what he was go­ing to look like in green and yel­low.

Maybe Mur­ray isn’t drafted as high as he ex­pects, and he de­cides to play base­ball in­stead. Or maybe he is drafted by a team with lousy man­age­ment or a lo­ca­tion he doesn’t like. Or even with a uni­form he deems un­flat­ter­ing. Or maybe he plays foot­ball for a year and gets beaten up and de­cides he made the wrong de­ci­sion. He still has base­ball in his back pocket.

Will Mur­ray ever play on a Jan­uary play­off week­end, as a mem­ber of an elite group of quar­ter­backs? My ma­ter­nal in­stincts say “I hope not,” but the NFL re­mains a pow­er­ful lure.

Jae C. Hong / As­so­ci­ated Press

Each of the four elite NFL quar­ter­backs who played Satur­day — (clock­wise) An­drew Luck, Patrick Ma­homes, Jared Goff and Dak Prescott — has some­thing Kyler Mur­ray lacks. They all stand at least 6 feet, 2 inches tall.

Jae C. Hong / As­so­ci­ated Press

Char­lie Neibergall / As­so­ci­ated Press

David Eu­litt / Getty Images


Wilfredo Lee / As­so­ci­ated Press

Ok­la­homa quar­ter­back Kyler Mur­ray won the Heis­man, but his lack of height might make it hard to win over NFL scouts.

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