Are you ready? The 2019 NFL Draft has been panned for it’s lack of quarterback talent for months. That perception likely played a huge role in prompting Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins to declare after just one season as a starter in 2018. But it sounds like the pool is going to get a little deeper and a little more intriguing: the 2018 Heisman Trophy winner is reportedly joining the fray. That’s right, Kyler Murray is going to pursue the NFL.
With this revelation and the consistent support from those in connected places that he’s likely a first round pick, there’s enough smoke to concede that there’s actually a fire. Daniel Jeremiah sung the praises of Murray after watching every 3rd down and 6+ yards to go on social media. Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk tweeted out that he’d received a text message suggesting Murray would go in the first round.
Adam Schefter? “NFL execs believe Murray is “magic” and his name would be called Thursday (1st round) or Friday (2nd-3rd round).”
The hype has legs, regardless of whether anyone decides to buy into Murray as a future pro or not. And with that in mind, it’s worth considering which of the quarterback hungry teams may buy into Murray in the first round of this year’s draft. Here are his five most logical destinations.
5. Washington Redskins – No. 15 overall
The Redskins’ season fell off the rails the moment Alex Smith went down in a heap with an ugly leg injury. Here’s the problem: the team just paid Alex Smith handsomely and they won’t have an out for the next two seasons without major cap implications.
That is, of course, unless Alex Smith hangs up the cleats. We don’t know what Smith’s status is and to be quite frank football should be an afterthought for Alex as he recovers. His injury was gruesome and as of early December it was considered potentially career ending. So who knows.
What we do know is that the Redskins are in need of a long-term solution at the quarterback position regardless. Could Murray be “the guy”? Coach Jay Gruden spoke in March about the decision to acquire Alex Smith and said the following:
“His movement skills are very, very underrated…That’s not to say we’ll run the zone read every time but the ability to get on the edge and outside the pocket and do some of the college stuff (is appealing).”
Well shoot, Coach. If you want to open up your offense for college concepts and more RPO action, what better place to start than Kyler Murray?
4. Denver Broncos – No. 10 overall
Perhaps this will be the true litmus test if John Elway has changed his stripes. The decisions Elway has made centered around the quarterback position during his tenure in Denver include:
– Signed Peyton Manning (Excellent)
– Tried to pay Brock Osweiler a ton of money to not leave for Houston (bad)
– Traded up and drafted Paxton Lynch in the first round (very bad)
– Signed Case Keenum to a short-term deal to be a bridge QB (I like it)
Kyler Murray flies in the face of everything that Elway coveted at quarterback prior to the Keenum signing. He liked prototypical passers. Murray has a big time arm, but he also has some variance to his results passing the ball and is grossly undersized for the position.
The Broncos make this list because they need a quarterback and because Elway has shown more flexibility in his efforts to target a passer. And in a dire class of quarterbacks, Denver’s timeline to find one isn’t exactly infinite. It’s hard to say what the scheme fit looks like for Murray, given the uncertainty around the Broncos staff right now. But as a team picking in the top-10 there’s plenty of reason to speculate that this might fit.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars – No. 7 overall
The bad news: the folks atop the Jaguars’ organization…namely Tom Coughlin…have been around football a really, really long time. So it’s hard to envision them being receptive to such a non-traditional passer.
The good news? Goodness, this would be a fun marriage. The Jaguars are a team that designed their offensive identity around pounding the football down your throat. Injuries had other ideas for the Jaguars in 2018, but when healthy this team will line up and hammer you in the ground game.
Such a strong commitment to the run sets the team up favorably for a lot of play action passing…something Murray did a lot of at Oklahoma. The Sooners’ spacing yielded a lot of soft second level targets for Murray, forcing defenders to keep their eyes distracted. Jacksonville’s play action game could accomplish the same and set Murray up favorably.
Add in the Jaguars’ roster has a ton of run after catch threats – including fellow Sooner Dede Westbrook? There’s a few reasons to think this pairing would make some noise.
2. New York Giants – No. 6 overall
Think about the Giants’ personnel. Saquon Barkley, Odell Beckham Jr, Evan Engram. There’s speed all over the field for this team. Now envision Kyler Murray at the helm. If you want to replicate Murray’s conditions from Oklahoma, you’d have a hard time selling me any other set of skill players, especially for QB hungry teams.
Do the Giants’ philosophies mesh with Murray? Well in the 5 games I’ve studied (Alabama, Army, UCLA, West Virginia and Texas), Murray often looks touchdown to check down. There are a lot of vertical reads, but they’re also NFL reads. This was something I noted with Lincoln Riley’s offense last year in my efforts to debunk the myth that Baker Mayfield was “just” a system quarterback. With Odell Beckham pressing down the field for big plays and Saquon Barkley catching balls out of the backfield, this marriage could work.
The question begs to be asked. Is #6 overall too high for Kyler Murray? Just remember: your value is whatever someone is willing to pay for you.
1. Miami Dolphins – No. 13 overall
Here’s what we do know about the Miami Dolphins. Gone is head coach Adam Gase. So, too, is long-term QB Ryan Tannehill. When owner Stephen Ross introduced general manager Chris Grier as his new football czar, Ross talked about how the Dolphins needed to do business differently.
This team is committed to a rebuild. They’re going to have a rookie coach and potentially a rookie quarterback…this team will have time to absorb the growing pains that a player like Murray will need to endure.
Also worth noting? The current favorite to land the Dolphins gig (according to some on the beat) is Dallas Cowboys’ Kris Richard, who comes off of the Pete Carroll coaching tree. Richard, Dallas’ defensive backs coach and passing game coordinator, spent seven years in Seattle prior to arriving in Dallas. That, of course, means he’s spent a lot of time around Russell Wilson, a player that Kyler Murray is going to draw comparisons to by his supporters.
Connect the dots. Miami is a team sorely lacking in star power. It is committed to a long-term build and can absorb the ebbs and flows of a rookie gunslinger. And shoot, owner Stephen Ross even advocated for the Dolphins to draft Lamar Jackson when the team had a trade offer to move back last April…so the top honcho is receptive to mobile Heisman Trophy winners.