Here’s What Kyler Murray’s Draft Decision Means
In 2018, a Heisman season came with an asterisk.
Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray was this year’s best player in college football and a Big 12 champion, but most importantly, he was the ninth overall pick in the MLB draft by the Oakland Athletics.
One of the most exciting quarterbacks in college football was fully committed to pursuing a career in baseball, until Monday, when Murray declared for the NFL draft.
At first glance, Murray’s decision is puzzling. The former Sooner was guaranteed a $4.66 million signing bonus by the A’s, and jobs in the MLB are overall far more lucrative than those in the NFL. That, along with the much higher injury risk football brings, would make baseball a no-brainer decision for Murray.
Passion is passion, however, and Murray, evidently, is passionate enough about football to test the waters of the NFL.
The 2019 NFL draft class was weak at quarterback before Murray’s decision, so now the Heisman winner has passer-needy teams buzzing.
Teams like the New York Giants, Jacksonville Jaguars and Denver Broncos, who were all originally gunning for Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins, now have a new player under center to evaluate.
An even more interesting situation, however, is down in Arizona.
"Kyler is a freak. I would take him with the first pick of the draft if I could,” Kliff Kingsbury, who was then a coach at Texas Tech, regarding Murray said.
Kingsbury, funny enough, now has that chance, as he has the top pick after being named head coach of the Arizona Cardinals.
A declaration for the draft doesn’t necessarily mean the end for Murray’s baseball career. He has a 72-hour window in which he could pull out of the draft, which gives Oakland a few days to up its offer. However, Murray could be asking for a lot from them for this to happen, perhaps more than the team would be willing to offer a draft pick right out of the gate.
Murray could potentially still remain indecisive until February 15, the start of A’s spring training. Just 11 days after that is the NFL combine—skipping the A’s training to prepare for that could be a tell-tale sign Murray’s eyes are set on the pigskin and attending training instead of draft prep could be a big enough red flag for NFL teams to take the quarterback off of their big boards.
Baseball aside, Murray as an NFL prospect is still an interesting case in itself. The Heisman winner finished this season with 4,361 yards passing and 1,001 yards rushing. Those are some outstanding numbers, but at 5-foot-10, if Murray entered the NFL, he would be the shortest quarterback in the league since Doug Floutie, who retired back in 2005.
There are concerns that Murray’s size would limit his success in the league, making his spectacular last season in college the peak of his football career.
While far from a perfect prospect, it’s hard to believe teams wouldn’t jump on Murray come draft night, which makes the next month very telling for what path he decides to go to.
If Murray doesn’t pull out of the NFL draft in the next few days, February will be the month that decides his future. If he forgoes spring training to take on the NFL combine, Murray’s baseball career could be a thing of the past.
One thing is for certain though— Either the future of the MLB or the NFL is about to change dramatically, and both league’s offseasons just became a lot more interesting.
Francesco de Falco is a freshman majoring in journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.