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Kyler Murray: Hype, or hope?

What makes a quality NFL quarterback? What teams and scouts will never tell you, is that nobody knows. It’s all a guess, based on past performance, measurables, and hype.

Yes, hype.

Kyler Murray has plenty of that. Heisman trophy winner, led his Oklahoma team to the College Football Playoffs, can run and throw, at least at the collegiate level. But, why is he being hyped so high? Why are so many eyes on him? Why is a team with a first-year head coach being rumored to pick him 1st overall?

Is he actually better than every other quarterback in the class? Dwayne Haskins is more of the prototype NFL quarterback, with success and on-field performance to show for it. He also played in the limelight at Ohio State.

Let’s look at one of the reasons Murray is receiving so much hype; his size. Yeah, he’s short. Little hands. Rumors have come out that his height was inflated at the combine. Have you ever heard that before? Maybe a 40 time, or weight, but height? It’s the single most solid measurement you can do on a person, with very little variables to affect the result. Yet, one scout told Dan Patrick the numbers were altered. Why?

Does knowing exactly how tall he is affect anyone’s thoughts at this point? Unlikely. All the tape is there. His play, is there. His speed and accuracy, there. Whether he’s 5’9” or 5’10” is not likely to sway anyone not already in love with the guy.

Now to the next thing that has us all up in arms about Murray; baseball. Kyler Murray was drafted 9th overall by the Oakland A’s in the 2018 MLB collegiate draft. Given a contract just short of $5 million. The Athletics allowed him to play one more season of football, before committing to play on the diamond. That backfired. But not for Murray.

The quarterback/outfielder was able to parlay his two-sport ability into being one of the most-ever looked at athletes coming out of college in recent history. But he’s far from the most recent quarterback talent to come out of the collegiate ranks with the ability to play both sports at a high-level. I won’t mention the names, because comparisons aren’t valid. For many reasons, and we’ll get to that later.

What else has the name Kyler Murray on our tongues? Coaches. Lincoln Riley, head coach for the Oklahoma Sooner football team has put out Baker Mayfield, and Murray, in succeeding years. He must be a QB guru, right? Similar in size, although Mayfield is 6’1”, similar in playing style, Mayfield is much more flamboyant on and off the field.

What about the other coach that’s spoken out about Murray’s talents? Arizona Cardinals’ first-year head coach Kliff Kingsbury. A statement made about Kyler in October has everyone going crazy about what the NFL club is going to do with their first overall pick in the draft. For those unaware, while Kingsbury was still the HC at Texas Tech, he recruited Murray, but obviously was not successful in his efforts. He also claimed if he had the number one overall pick, he would draft Murray. Fast-forward to today, his Cardinals have that pick.

But Arizona drafted Josh Rosen number 10 overall last year. Guess what else happened? First-year head coach Steve Wilks was fired at the end of the season. So, Kingsbury is going to draft a small, baseball-playing quarterback as his first big move? Look at how well that worked out for his predecessor.

While the Heisman trophy is a great accomplishment for a college football player, it means very little in the NFL. Of the past 10 Heisman winning quarterbacks to play in the NFL, Cam Newton (2010 winner) is by far the most successful. Troy Smith (2006), Tim Tebow (2007), Sam Bradford (2008), Cam Newton (2010), Robert Griffin III (2011), Johnny Manziel (2012), Jameis Winston (2013), Marcus Mariota (2014), Lamar Jackson (2016), and Baker Mayfield (2017) are all quarterbacks that won the trophy, and played in the NFL.

Smith, Tebow, and Manziel are all out of the league. Bradford and RGIII have been relegated to backup positions, despite early (yet fleeting) success. Winston and Mariota are still trying to prove themselves, and Jackson, well, we saw what happened when the lights came on.

So let’s look deeper at this list. RGIII, Manziel, and Jackson all have a similar playing style-they’re runners. While all three were drafted high, both flamed out just as quickly as they lit up. At least RGIII had a year of successful football. Before his thin frame was injured. No, those aren’t the only runners on the list, but they are by FAR the thinnest, or smallest. And since Michael Vick, no player of that style has had long-term success in the NFL. Mind you Vick was bigger.

Let’s move on.

After the doubters learned of his height (5’10”), two stories emerged from the NFL Combine. One, reported by NFL Network’s analyst Charley Casserly, was that his interview and whiteboard process went terribly. No one has come forward to substantiate this report, but it was made, nonetheless. The other, was the aforementioned text to Dan Patrick, that his measurements had been altered. How? Why?

I’m not saying the kid can’t play. We’ve seen he can play. I’m saying I don’t think he deserves a first round pick, much less a first overall. I think the hype surrounding Kyler Murray has more to do with why he may be drafted high in the first round, than his actual play, and potential.

To wrap it up, we have a shorter two-sport player, Heisman trophy winner, claimed to be worthy of a number 1 draft pick by an at the time of the statement a soon-to-be-fired college coach. The threat of playing baseball over football. In a weak quarterback class, with more criticism than praise after the Combine (deserved or not, true or not, it happened). A playing style more like RGIII (and small frame, to boot) than the other short, two-sport star QB Russell Wilson (who was never projected as a first-round draft pick, and had 4 years of starting experience at 2 Power 5 schools). Lastly, we have a league that just loves to reach too far for quarterbacks.

Christian Ponder, anyone?

All of this build up a perfectly brewed storm of hype, over substance.

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