Best Fits for Kyler Murray After Heisman Winner Fully Commits to NFL
Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray announced that he will focus on football—bypassing a contract with the Oakland A's as a top-10 pick of the MLB draft. Now that his decision is officially known, which team the QB will play for in the NFL will be one of the most discussed topics of the next few months.
Murray is an electric quarterback who captured the nation with his incredible play, but there are still some lingering questions. From his size (officially listed at 5'10", 195 pounds by Oklahoma), to the scheme he played in (a wide open, run-pass option attack) to his dedication to the game of football (he has an MLB career waiting for him if he ever wants it)—all weigh heavily on the minds of NFL teams and evaluators.
So where are the best fits for Murray and why? NFL scouts dish on that and the overall evaluation of the Oklahoma quarterback with the NFL combine coming up and his pro day set for March 13.
"Here's the thing—we don't know what Kliff Kingsbury is going to want or how much control he'll have. But he didn't draft Josh Rosen [last year] and he isn't tied to him. If he wants Kyler, he can get him." — AFC personnel director
The Arizona Cardinals have been rumored as a potential landing spot for Kyler Murray since he hinted at giving up baseball for the NFL. He's a fit for the Kingsbury offense, he's an exciting playmaker who can cover up other offensive struggles, and he could give Kingsbury a clean slate to start with.
Logic would suggest the Cardinals go another direction with the No. 1 overall selection since they did trade up last year to draft Rosen at No. 10 overall, but if the front office isn't sold on Rosen after an unimpressive start to his career, moving him for draft picks and selecting Murray is a possibility.
"Do you believe in Andy Dalton? Because I don't, and I don't know if they do either. You bring in a new head coach (Zac Taylor) who is supposed to be a quarterback guru. You might want to get him a quarterback." — AFC head coach
The Cincinnati Bengals made a change at the head coaching position after a 16-year run with Marvin Lewis at the helm. Now Taylor comes in—a hotshot former Nebraska quarterback who worked under Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay. Taylor was hired to fix the Bengals offense, that's no secret, but will he and the front office agree on Dalton as the answer to their issues?
If Kyler Murray happens to be on the board when the Bengals select at No. 11 overall, it will be a hard decision to bypass a top-tier quarterback prospect for the known commodity that is Dalton. He might have been able to pull off a few postseason runs, but every NFL team now is focused on winning with quarterbacks either in the top tier (i.e., Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers) or on a rookie contract. And Dalton is neither.
"John Elway is going to look at Kyler Murray and see himself all over again. Two-sport star. Great athlete. Big arm. If he's there for them, Murray might just be his dude." — NFC area scout
John Elway has to get it right at quarterback. He missed on Brock Osweiler. He missed on Paxton Lynch. He settled when signing Case Keenum. The pressure is on for Elway to find a younger version of himself to pair with a very good defense and a skill position group in Denver that's young and exciting.
The biggest question is more so if Murray will be there for Denver. The Broncos have been connected to the San Francisco 49ers and New York Jets as a team that might trade up for a quarterback, but most often the team is connected to Missouri quarterback Drew Lock. That could change once Elway sees Murray at the NFL Scouting Combine or his Oklahoma pro day.
"They have to get a quarterback this offseason, so of course Murray is going to get talked about [internally]. If they don't get [Nick] Foles in a trade, could totally see them move up for him in the draft." — AFC general manager
The most interesting part of this quote is that the Jaguars might have to move up to get Kyler Murray. The team currently sits at No. 7 overall with the Cardinals, Oakland Raiders, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New York Giants ahead of them in the order with potential quarterback needs. If the Jaguars don't land a Nick Foles before the draft, trading up to No. 2 (San Francisco) or No. 3 (NY Jets) could become a reality.
The Jaguars have talent and an ownership that would understand how to use Murray. They wouldn't force him into a conventional offense, but would instead task head coach Doug Marrone with building a system that plays into his athletic strengths. If Leonard Fournette is back and healthy, the two could make the Jacksonville offense terrifying to defend.
"If Chris Grier wants to make a splash now that the team is his—and maybe sell some tickets—this is the way to do it." — NFC personnel director
Like most teams on this list, the Miami Dolphins are desperate to make a move at quarterback after missing on Ryan Tannehill as a draft pick and then giving him a $100 million contract extension. Now the front office has been restructured with Chris Grier replacing Mike Tannenbaum, with a new coaching staff coming in, too.
Brian Flores is a defensive specialist, but that doesn't mean he can't notice or appreciate what a game-changing offensive player can do. As someone who is tasked with stopping quarterbacks, he'll see what Murray brings to the table as a threat both as a runner and a passer.
When the Dolphins come on the clock at No. 13 overall, Murray could be too tempting to pass on if they haven't addressed quarterback in free agency.
New England Patriots
"Last year the rumors around teams was that they loved Baker [Mayfield], so it makes sense that they'd want Kyler too if he's somehow there for them. And they do have two picks in the second round if trading up becomes an option." — AFC personnel director
This might be unfair. The New England Patriots do have a need for a quarterback of the future, though; and if NFL teams decide that Murray needs more time to sit after being a one-year starter at Oklahoma, it could potentially push him into the range of a trade up the board for the Patriots.
In New England, Murray could sit and learn behind Tom Brady, which is an ideal spot to learn the game and business of football. The biggest question is if the Patriots are ready to draft his successor. Brady, who is 41 years old, says he's playing until he's 45. That would put Murray coming up on the tail end of his rookie deal when Brady is ready to go. Would the Patriots move up to draft a player they won't use for multiple seasons?
It doesn't sound like the most Patriots move ever, but Bill Belichick always has a trick or two up his sleeve.
New York Giants
"It seems like the Giants are set on another year of Eli Manning, but this could be their Mahomes-Smith deal where he's drafted and anointed the starter for 2020." — NFC director of scouting
The idea of finding a Patrick Mahomes to sit behind an Alex Smith is this year's draft trend. Every team wants that rookie wage scale quarterback who can either sit and develop or come in and play right away. For the Giants, with Eli Manning looking like he'll be back in 2019, this is the best play for the long-term health of the team if the front office can move past the idea of loading up for one more Super Bowl run.
The offensive talent assembled by the Giants would be amazing to watch as a fan if Murray can duplicate his college success and style in the pros.
"This would be complete chaos, but neither Gruden nor Mayock is tied to Derek Carr. They could draft Murray, let Carr play then trade him after the season." — NFC pro scout
Chaos is exactly what this would be, but Jon Gruden has shown in the last year that he's not tied to any player on his roster. If the Raiders were to receive a trade request from the Jacksonville Jaguars or Washington that involved first-round picks for Carr, could they say no?
The Raiders, sitting at pick No. 4 overall, are in a great spot to land Murray, especially if they're willing to part with a second-rounder to slide up the board slightly to land him at No. 2 or No. 3. If Gruden and Mayock want to put their stamp on this team—and if Mark Davis wants to get a more exciting product before moving to Las Vegas—this is the move for them.
"There's no way he's on the board for them, but Washington has the right coach (Jay Gruden) and the right talent on the offensive line for it to work right away." — NFC personnel director
It's highly unlikely that Murray would slip to No. 15 overall unless he completely bombs his interviews and workouts in the predraft process, but that doesn't mean Washington isn't a good landing spot for his long-term success.
Head coach Jay Gruden has shown an ability to develop quarterbacks and has also been willing to innovate offensively to fit his players. If he would install a scheme that let Murray make plays on the perimeter while feeding running back Derrius Guice behind a big, tough offensive line, then this thing could work Week 1 and fill the biggest need on the depth chart.