Following Oklahoma's 45-34 loss in the Orange Bowl at the hands of the almighty Alabama machine, it is now decision time for many players. Nowhere is the weight on the shoulders heavier than it is for the Sooners' quarterback and Heisman winner, Kyler Murray.
We all know the debate and the situation by now. Murray was drafted in the first round of the MLB draft this summer to the Oakland Athletics' organization, and he signed a very nice sighing bonus to promise that he would be playing baseball when his football career came to an end as a Sooner.
Well, here we are. Will Murray stick with that decision?
On the surface level, many would tell you he should. Murray's measurables -- as he is listed at 5-foot-11, but really is closer to 5-foot-8 -- don't exactly line up to that of most NFL quarterbacks. That and his style of being a runner and a weapon with his legs leave him open to not only frame concerns but durability concerns in the NFL. None of that exists in the same way in baseball. Murray, as one of the best athletes in the sport of baseball, has the chance to have a long and successful career just based on his athletics alone. For that, many would say baseball is the obvious choice.
But I have also heard people try to argue that point and say baseball is the "right" choice.
The "right" choice is whatever Murray decides for himself, and if he does end up choosing football, that Orange Bowl game to cap off his career told us he could be one of the better quarterbacks in the NFL, if he wants to be.
Murray finished the game against Alabama 19-37 with 417 total yards and three total touchdowns. The only two quarterbacks to ever do something like that against Alabama statistically were Johnny Manziel and Deshaun Watson.
Murray had his misses in that game, most of them accuracy issues on passes going higher than their target was, but to me that is game jitters and perhaps some baseball mechanics, not a sign of true accuracy issues. The reason I say that is because of throws like the one about that Murray just sees and makes without even hesitating or over thinking -- that's him in his natural state, something many NFL quarterbacks can't boast for themselves.
Few times have I ever seen an athlete as naturally gifted as Kyler Murray is, and I'm talking about the whole package. Being able to hit crazy throws like you see above, being able to take off with your legs and outrun just about anyone at any time, the mental clock in the back of your head to move and adjust, the lack of panic in him, natural, quick arm strength. It is remarkable how Murray packs all that talent in his body.
If you asked me to guess, I would guess that Murray is going to decide to play baseball after losing to Alabama in the Orange Bowl -- yes those last few games mean something. But, if he chose the NFL, you better believed he'd be better than some of the starters we have in the league right now.
There are so many guys in the NFL whose coaches are just trying to make it work that are barely even NFL-caliber let alone starting-caliber. Murray would be better starting options than guys like Blake Bortles, Case Keenum, Ryan Tannehill, Jeff Driskel, Eli Manning, and that's not to mention guys who have received multiple shots at gigs like like Nathan Peterman, Paxton Lynch, Trevor Siemian, Mike Glennon, Blaine Gabbert, etc. Plus you now have to throw in whoever the heck is playing backup for teams like the Carolina Panthers and Washington Redskins.
There are a handful of teams that Murray could be the No. 1 quarterback option for in 2019, and even past that, he would certainly be one of the best backups in the NFL.
Do I think that ultimately happens? No, I don't. But I do think it's absolutely ludicrous to say that Murray couldn't play in the NFL. He would be one of the best 32 quarterbacks in the league. I have no doubt in my mind. There are NFL coaches who would kill to have their quarterback be as natural as an athlete and as a ball player as Murray is. And after watching pro coaches be forced to tried to fit round pieces into square holes at the quarterback position for years, I think it's silly to believe Murray couldn't play ball.
Perhaps we have seen the last of Kyler Murray in a football uniform. If that was the case in the Orange Bowl, what a career it's been. And you better believe there are some NFL minds that wish he was in their QB room instead of some of the guys they have.