Kyler Murray didn’t participate in any of the physical activities at this past weekend’s NFL combine in Indianapolis. But that didn’t stop the Heisman Trophy winner from creating buzz and headlines regarding his future in pro football.
The dual threat quarterback out of Oklahoma scored a huge victory during measurements at the combine, coming in at 5’10 ⅛”. In today’s NFL, almost every quarterback operates out of the shotgun, which negates the worry that shorter QBs will have trouble seeing over the line of scrimmage. However, if Murray measured below 5’10”, his stock might have taken a slight hit. It helps his case that he’s just a tick shorter than Seattle Seahawks signal caller Russell Wilson. Wilson slid to the third round back in the 2012 draft, at least in part due to his height. Since then he’s grown into a top five NFL quarterback.
Murray and Wilson are also similar since they were both great baseball players at the college level. Murray recently spurned the Oakland Athletics to focus solely on the NFL, even though the A’s took him in the first round of last year’s MLB draft as a center fielder. The throwing strength that made him a great as an outfielder translates very well to the quarterback position–despite being 5’10 and weighing just 207 pounds, he’s got a cannon for an arm.
Now that concerns about his height have diminished to some degree, Murray’s stock is rising and rising fast. He’s dynamic, extremely accurate, and showed incredible maturity and poise in his first year starting at Oklahoma. When asked to fill the quarterback shoes of last year’s number one overall pick, Heisman Trophy winner and offensive rookie of the year runner-up quarterback Baker Mayfield, he did so impressively.
Murray completed 69 percent of his passes for 4,361 yards and 42 touchdowns. He also rushed for 1,001 yards and scored 12 times with his feet. Those videogame-level numbers have all of the offensive guru coaches in today’s NFL drooling over his ability.
That applies specifically to Arizona Cardinals rookie head coach Kliff Kingsbury. Kingsbury is the latest in a pool of innovative offensive minds that NFL teams seek in this passing league that we’re living in 2019. Many questioned Kingsbury’s hiring because he wasn’t very successful as a head coach at the college level at Texas Tech.
Hiring a 39-year-old with no prior success as a head coach does seem risky if not downright gimmicky. But maybe that’s just because Kingsbury is Ryan Gosling’s doppelganger. He’s certainly an unconventional pick for head coach given his resume, but given the current NFL, I say let’s give any good offensive mind a shot to succeed.
Kingsbury’s record there notwithstanding, coaching at Texas Tech this past year gave him a chance to see up close what Kyler Murray can do. And he’d already been following him since his high school days. In an interview a few months back he heaped praise on him, saying he would take him as his first draft pick if he could.
Kliff Kingsbury with some high praise for OU QB Kyler Murray:
"Kyler is a freak…..I would take him with the first pick of the draft if I could." pic.twitter.com/aYYamjMu7o
— Eric Kelly (@EricKellyTV) October 28, 2018
Lo and behold, now Kingsbury actually has the opportunity to do just that, which will position Murray as the future of his new team in the desert. So where does that leave Arizona’s first round draft pick in last year’s draft, former UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen?
Rosen was one of five quarterbacks taken in the first round of 2018 NFL draft. All got an opportunity to start at some point during the year. But unlike the others, Rosen never really got the chance to showcase the ability that earned his top ten selection a year ago.
Obviously Rosen is a young player who needs to adjust his game to the pro level. But playing behind the worst offensive line in football, and a poor team in general in Arizona, deprived Rosen of the chance to thrive and grow in his first year.
Rosen’s skill set is completely different from Murray’s. He’s a traditional, drop-back quarterback who throws a beautiful ball but lacks escapability and therefore the ability to extend plays. With a horrible offensive line in Arizona that’s going to take a while to build back up, wouldn’t Murray be the more sensible option for Arizona?
I certainly think so. And A boat load of draft picks is the easiest way to build up that offensive line and other team weaknesses. Trading on a talent like the 22-year-old Rosen will get you some real compensation in draft picks. Rosen may already be sensing his departure is on the horizon, as he recently deleted all Arizona Cardinal related Instagram posts off of his page. Cardinals general manager Steve Keim also fueled Rosen trade rumors by stating “Is Josh Rosen our quarterback? Yeah, he is, right now, for sure.” Not exactly the most reassuring stance.
As it turns out, my New England Patriots carry twelve picks into this spring’s draft. Six of those are in the first three rounds. New England can certainly put a package of draft picks together and send them across the nation to Arizona, then get their future quarterback in return.
As much as we’d all love to see Tom Brady continue playing forever, he’ll be 42 by the start of next season. I’m of the mindset that Brady has a maximum of two years playing at quarterback. Those final years should be used as a perfect window for one of the greatest leaders in all of team sports history to mold the young Rosen.
Ideally, after two years, the 24-year-old Rosen will be ready to step right in and take the keys of the franchise from Brady. Whether he’ll be operating under Bill Belichick, Josh McDaniels, or someone else entirely is very much up in the air. Regardless, I think all of Patriots Nation should be excited about the prospect of Rosen taking over at quarterback in the near future.