When Kyler Murray made the shocking decision to commit to football instead of baseball, the NFL community struggled to figure out where he would rank among the other prospects in this year’s draft. Mock drafts currently have him ranging from the first pick to out of the first round entirely. Questions of his height, durability, and his commitment to football have all been frequently asked questions regarding to Murray’s success in the NFL.
Despite these questions, Murray’s unique skillset should make every NFL team drool. In this new era of the NFL where high powered offenses are revolutionizing the game, a quarterback with Kyler Murray’s talents will thrive. Coaches like Sean McVay and Matt Nagy are creating systems tailored for their quarterbacks instead of forcing them into a system that does not utilize their skills. As a result, average quarterbacks like Jared Goff and Mitchell Trubisky are now lighting up stat sheets and leading their respective teams to the postseason.
After evaluating Murray as a prospect, two key traits will help him succeed. His quick throwing motion and his mobility will allow Murray to develop into one of the NFL’s most exciting players.
Quick Throwing Motion
This difficult throw to CeeDee Lamb against Alabama in the College Football Playoffs is a great example of Murray’s swift release. The window for this throw requires a fast motion due to the limited space available near the sideline. Murray is able to squeeze the throw in this small window while throwing over a defender to an area where only Lamb can make the catch. A slower release would result in the throw being a few inches behind Lamb where the Alabama defender can make a play on the football. These are the kind of throws that have to be made at the NFL level and Murray is more than capable of making them.
This throw against Kansas helped him avoid a hit by the Kansas defender. With Murray’s height, he does not have the luxury to take his time on his throws. He needs to be able to get the ball out of his hands so it won’t be tipped or batted down at the line of scrimmage. Murray’s fast release shortens the time available for pass rushers to sack him and will keep him off the ground and avoid injuries.
This throw against Texas was one of Murray’s most impressive throws. On the play, the Texas linebacker has a free path to Murray. With the defender in his face, Murray quickly gets the ball out of hands and avoids absorbing a major hit by the defender. The play results in a first down and keeps the drive moving.
Game Changing Mobility
This is where Murray is in a league of his own. Against West Virginia, Oklahoma has a screen option set up. Murray has the choice to either throw it to the receiver on a screen route, or keep it himself and run to the weak side of the field. Oklahoma used this play a lot to catch opposing defenses biting on the screen route. On this play, Murray could have easily thrown it to the receiver, and get a first down. Instead, Murray elects to run it and blazes past West Virginia defenders for a touchdown. There are very few players at the quarterback position that have the ability to pull off what Murray did here. The Heisman winner’s potential to produce jaw-dropping plays like this one will keep NFL defensive coordinators up at night figuring out how to contain potential plays like these.
Murray’s ability to avoid defenders inside and outside the pocket allows him to make plays that not many other quarterbacks are capable of making. This play against Oklahoma State would have resulted in a sack for most quarterbacks. However Murray was able to sense the pressure and extend the play. The throw to Marquise Brown was on target and gave Oklahoma a first down near the goaline.
Pro Comparison: Russell Wilson
Murray’s game compares favorably to Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson. For starters, both players are under 6 feet tall and are undersized in comparison to the prototypical quarterback. Their lack of size are big contributors to their respective play styles.
The two also share the ability to extend plays with their mobility however they do not depend on it in order to make plays. Both Wilson and Murray are constantly looking down field and only choose to run only if they are required to do so.
The last similarity is their baseball backgrounds. Wilson was drafted by the Colorado Rockies in the 4th round and later picked up by the Texas Rangers before electing to pursue a career in the NFL. Murray was selected in the first round by the Oakland Athletics and has the opportunity to become the first athlete selected in the first round of two different professional leagues.
It remains to be seen whether or not Murray can achieve the level of success Wilson has had in his career. It is encouraging that the two players have a lot in common with one another.
Team Fit: Arizona Cardinals (1st Pick)
This is a match that needs to happen. With the hiring of former Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury, Murray’s skillset would directly translate to the system Kingsbury ran at Tech. Obviously the Cardinals need to figure out what to do with last year’s first round pick Josh Rosen, but when your team has the opportunity to acquire a player like Murray, you absolutely have to take advantage of it.