Rookie Rundown: QB Kyler Murray, Oklahoma

Rookie Rundown: QB Kyler Murray, Oklahoma

NFL Draft

Rookie Rundown: QB Kyler Murray, Oklahoma

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(Jasen Vinlove, USA TODAY Sports)

Kyler Murray is the consensus first pick in the 2019 NFL draft. That carries the expectation of being the biggest difference maker among all rookies and a sure Week 1 starter. Murray was also the ninth-overall selection in the 2018 MLB draft. He declared for the NFL draft after winning the 2018 Heisman Trophy Award.

Murray was a three-year starter at Allen High School in Texas with a student population of 5,000 students. He played home games in a $60 million stadium that houses 18,000 spectators. His team won three straight state championships and 43 games in a row. He never lost a game in high school and was the 2014 Gatorade Football Player of the Year.

He was a five-star recruit that signed with the Texas A&M Aggies to play both football and baseball. Murray started his freshman year as the back-up quarterback occasionally used in the wildcat formation. He won the starting job later in the year and in his first start, he threw for 223 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 156 yards and a second score. He joined Cam Newton as the only SEC quarterbacks to ever gain over 100 yards rushing and passing, with both a rushing and passing touchdown in a game.

At the end of that year, he announced he was transferring to Oklahoma and per NCAA transfer rules, he had to sit out the 2016 season. He was the backup for Baker Mayfield in 2017 before taking over last year.

Height: 5-10
Weight: 205 pounds
40 time: 4.38 seconds (he claims)

Murray threw for over 4,000 yards and 40 touchdowns in the regular season and helped the Sooners win the Big 12 Championship. Against Alabama in the Orange Bowl, he threw for 308 yards with two touchdowns. Murray was a dual-threat with over 1,000 rushing yards while scoring a total of 54 touchdowns last year. He won the Heisman Trophy one year after fellow Sooner Baker Mayfield did.

Year Games Runs Yards TD Pass Complete Yards Avg. TD Int QBR
2015* 8 53 335 1 121 72 686 5.7 5 7 109.2
2017 7 14 142 0 21 18 359 17.1 3 0 276.5
2018 14 140 1001 12 377 260 4361 13.0 42 7 199.2

 *Texas A&M

Murray would have been drafted by the MLB out of high school but opted to play football for the Aggies. He was a star player at Oklahoma for two years as a left fielder and then as a centerfielder. He was drafted by the Oakland Athletics and signed a contract with them that included a $4.66 million signing bonus that he had to return when he declared for the NFL. The A’s retain his MLB rights.

Pros

  • Proven winner at every level
  • Exceptional arm strength
  • Dynamic rusher with elite speed
  • Highly mobile quarterback
  • Gifted at throwing on the run
  • Quickness to extend plays and elude rushers
  • Great work ethic
  •  Poised in pocket, ready to run if needed
  • Playmaker both passing and rushing

Cons

  • Needs work on decision-making skills
  • Inconsistent at reading his progressions
  • Undersized vs. NFL standards
  • Only one full season as starter in college

Fantasy outlook

Murray rocketed up the rankings last year when he was finally given the starting job at Oklahoma. His only full season produced 54 total touchdowns, over 4,000 passing yards, and over 1,000 rushing yards. He elected to not run a 40-yard dash but all game tape clearly shows his elite speed and he claims to have run a 4.38 when he was a freshman in college. There are no concerns about his speed.

He is naturally compared to another dual-threat – Russell Wilson. Murray is one inch shorter and at least ten pounds lighter but also faster with potentially a stronger arm.  His size is a concern to some and Wilson is already the exception to the size rule.

The consensus is that Murray will end up as the first pick in the draft made by the Cardinals. There could always be draft day trades and word is that not everyone in the Arizona Cardinals organization is sold on him, particularly after spending their 1.10 pick on Josh Rosen last year.

Murray has always been a winner and a playmaker. But he hasn’t had the extensive experience in college that any of the other highly ranked quarterbacks carry. His most commonly noted weakness is decision making and locking onto his first read. He is sure to provide ample rushing yardage and scores as a rookie if only from being chased from the pocket by an NFL-quality pass rush – something he rarely had to worry about at Oklahoma.

While he is likely to prove green in the passing game, his first-year stats will contain plenty of rushing production and that will give him fantasy value even as a rookie. If he ends up on a team without any elite receivers (like the Cardinals), it will slow down his progress.

Murray isn’t the biggest quarterback in the draft but he is the fastest and best playmaker. He’ll provide more excitement than any of his fellow rookies.

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