How A’s Kyler Murray measures up as a QB.
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.
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.
Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray won the Heisman, but his lack of height might make it hard to win over NFL scouts.