Pro Day Shows Kyler Murray Expects NFL to Trust Him, so Which Team Fits QB Best?

Brad Gagnon@Brad_Gagnon NFL National ColumnistMarch 13, 2019

Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray goes through passing drills at the university's Pro Day for NFL scouts in Norman, Okla., Wednesday, March 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Alonzo Adams)
Alonzo Adams/Associated Press

When the NFL's new league year got underway at 4 p.m. ET Wednesday, several critical developments pertaining to Kyler Murray's next team became official. 

We just aren't sure which team that is.

Folks in Arizona might be focused on the Cardinals adding Jordan Hicks and Terrell Suggs to the roster. Folks in New York might be preoccupied by the Giants losing Odell Beckham Jr., Olivier Vernon and Landon Collins. Folks in Oakland are likely focused on the Raiders' trade for Antonio Brown. Folks in Jacksonville might be devoting their attention to the Jaguars' acquisition of Nick Foles. And folks in Miami might be wondering how the Dolphins will replace offensive tackle Ja'Wuan James. 

For one of those teams—or a dark horse such as Washington, Tampa Bay, Cincinnati or Denver—all of the signings, departures and trades that were formalized Wednesday afternoon may be less important than what took place roughly two hours earlier on the University of Oklahoma campus. 

That's where Murray threw in the public eye for the first time since he declared for the NFL draft.

The widely projected No. 1 overall pick did so before a throng of more than 100 credentialed media members and more than 60 NFL team representatives at Oklahoma's highly anticipated pro day, per Tyler Palmateer of the Norman Transcript. His performance may be the affirmation one team (or multiple teams) needed to pull the trigger. 

Murray displayed everything NFL decision-makers could want to see from a quarterback prospect in a controlled passing display. He showed off excellent anticipation, smooth footwork and great ball placement. He exhibited superb arm strength, good touch and was accurate (he completed 61 of 67 attempts, including one drop). He looked comfortable and made some difficult throws look easy with a remarkably quick release. There's no questioning his delivery, and the short passer threw the ball at a wide variety of trajectories from various angles. 

You'd have to dig deep to find a bad review of Murray's pro-day performance, and that reviewer likely had to dig even deeper to find a bone to pick. 

But for a 21-year-old who will become one of the shortest and lightest quarterbacks in NFL history, measurements continue to be a major focal point when it comes to Murray's professional prospects.

After weighing in at an impressive 207 pounds at the NFL Scouting Combine two weeks ago, the Heisman Trophy winner maintained that by coming in at 205 on Wednesday. But after measuring 5'10⅛" at the combine, Murray opted not to have his height measured again in Norman.

That's hardly ideal since questions arose about the validity of his combine measurement leading up to his pro day. 

An unnamed scout told sports commentator Dan Patrick last week that he felt as though Murray's height was "inflated" in Indianapolis (via AZCentral.com). The scout added: "If he refuses to measure at the pro day, that will be telling."

And here we are.

In mid-January, Sooners assistant athletics director for strategic communications Mike Houck said Murray is 5'9⅞" in socks. That's only a quarter-inch shorter than his combine measurement, so Murray's unwillingness to measure his height Wednesday could raise more questions. 

Ditto for his decision not to run the 40-yard dash. Murray is plenty quick, but he was listed at 195 pounds at Oklahoma. It's fair to wonder whether he has bulked up at the expense of his speed.

Murray has yet to run at his current weight. Can he maintain that added bulk and stay as fast as he was in the Big 12? 

While several teams figure to be able to put Murray through the ringer in private workouts, the quarterback's conservative approach to the predraft process reaffirms the notion that whoever drafts him will have to trust what they've gleaned from a series of uncommonly small samples. 

We know Murray is roughly 5'10", but we also know he'd prefer not to be measured. We know he's above 200 pounds, but we don't know whether he can maintain that or if the added weight could slow him down. We know he was one of the best players in college football during his only season as a starting quarterback, but we don't know if he was a one-hit wonder. And we know he has the ability to dominate on a football field, but we also know he has the ability to do the same on a baseball field. 

Murray wasn't even considered a first-round NFL prospect until the new year. He was a top-10 pick in last year's Major League Baseball draft. Three months ago, his baseball agent, Scott Boras, insisted he was sticking to that sport and would report to Oakland Athletics training camp in February. 

Since he declared for the NFL draft in January, Murray has been adamant that he's committed to football. But whichever team drafts him will have to trust he won't change his mind in the next few years. 

Alonzo Adams/Associated Press

Wednesday gave teams another encouraging morsel, but Murray was working in a controlled environment with no pass rush (not even a broom!) while throwing to uncovered, familiar receivers as part of a script. There's only so much a team can glean from that.

While private workouts will offer up another morsel, whichever teams pursue Murray will have to rely on blind faith more than usual. The tape from his 14 starts at Oklahoma will be paramount, complemented by a series of mostly positive predraft developments. 

Which team is most likely to trust that Murray has what it takes to establish himself as a franchise quarterback? 

The first guess is Arizona. New Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury, who now shares an agent with Murray, said back in October that he'd select Murray with the top pick of the draft "if I could."

He now can. And it isn't as though the Cardinals have offered Josh Rosen strong votes of confidence

In terms of college experience and playing style, Murray is the antithesis of Rosen. If the Cards are looking to go in a new direction and can find a trade partner for last year's No. 10 overall pick, taking Murray first overall would make sense. 

Beyond that, you'd have to look at the Giants, who now hold the Nos. 6 and 17 overall picks in the 2019 draft and are heading toward a rebuild following the departures of Beckham, Vernon and Collins. Current Giants quarterback Eli Manning is 38 years old and is entering the final season of a high-priced contract.

As Matt Lombardo of NJ Advance Media points out, there might be a strong X's and O's connection between Murray and Giants head coach Pat Shurmur: 

Next up are the Dolphins, who have a glaring hole at quarterback and could pursue a trade up from No. 13 overall. ESPN.com's Cameron Wolfe noted Miami liked Baker Mayfield in last year's draft, and the similarities between Mayfield and Murray are hard to miss. Dolphins general manager Chris Grier is a former Bill Parcells disciple, and while Murray isn't a Parcells-type quarterback on the surface, there are few hard-and-fast rules in the NFL.   

It's also easier to imagine a desperate general manager (like Arizona's Steve Keim) or an inexperienced one (like Grier) putting all of his trust into a prospect with a limited resume. 

Beyond that? There could be a chasm.

Jacksonville is giving Foles more than $50 million guaranteed, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. The Raiders, who might prefer to have an established quarterback work with the incoming Brown, have issued several recent strong endorsements of Derek Carr. With Case Keenum on board, the Redskins now have more than $27 million committed to three quarterbacks for 2019. The Broncos just acquired Joe Flacco, and the Buccaneers and Bengals insist they're still going steady with their current starting signal-callers. 

That doesn't mean any of those teams are definitively out of contention for Murray, or that some team like Tennessee, Pittsburgh or New England won't shock the world on draft night. 

With Murray, it's all about the trust factor.

In the NFL—particularly heading into draft seasonit's often impossible to know who or what anybody trusts. 

        

Brad Gagnon has covered the NFL for Bleacher Report since 2012. 

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