23 °C London, GB
20th July 2019

Lazy Scout: Kyler Murray (QB)

I’ll be approaching this scouting report from a slightly different angle. I’ll be talking about Kyler Murray’s abilities as both a Baseball star and a Quarterbacking sensation, to give you all a better understanding of Kyler’s skillset.

Kyler Murray is a generational talent, his ability to play both baseball and football at the highest level indicates just how much of an athlete Kyler is.

Murray originally played at Texas A&M, where he was recruited as a consensus five-star recruit. He transferred to Oklahoma in 2016 but did not begin playing until 2017, where he was an Academic All-Big 12 second team honoree. Murray played seven games in 2017 before playing full-time in 2018.

In 2018, Murray won the Heisman trophy and led the Oklahoma Sooners to an Orange Bowl birth and a Big XII championship, where they defeated Texas.

In the 2018 MLB Draft, Murray was drafted to the Oakland A’s in the first round. In 1999, Murray’s father was inducted into the Texas A&M Athletic Hall of Fame.

In the spring of 2017, A young Kyler Murray lead a game off with an infield single, stole second, third and scored on a ground out. Within 6 pitches the future Sooners QB and Oakland A’s first round selection had engineered a run.

This was the first time Former Oklahoma State pitcher Chris Reilly had seen Murray on the diamond. Along with several other scouts Reilly watched him fly down the first base line, it was at that moment Chris looked at the scouts present and said: “ ‘oh boy, this kid’s gonna be special at some point.”

I’m no baseball expert, in fact I wouldn’t even consider myself to be a casual fan so I enlisted the help of the Hardcore baseball fan base to see if my assumptions were correct.

You see, to get a real grasp of Kyler Murray the Quarterback you first have to understand how good he is on the diamond.

Let’s start with the obvious. Kyler is an animal with his legs.

Like many athletes, Kyler’s quick twitch fibres give him a real explosiveness whether he’s in the batting box or on the base paths, it’s rare to find someone with the unfathomable short-space (and long distance) explosiveness that Kyler possesses.

Josh Herzenberg, a former scout for the Dodgers first saw Kyler play at Allen High School in North Dallas. He describes his initial impression of the multi-sport magician as “elite, top-of-the-scale athleticism” In fact Herzenberg went as far as to say “I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a better athlete on a baseball field, ever”.

Herzenburg has scouted the likes of Cody Thomas, a former Sooner who went on to play for the Dodgers in 2016. Yet even Herzenberg admits that Murray is in a different stratosphere of talent.

How many athletes do you see with the ability to do this.

You may have heard of Trent Dilfer and Yogi Roth, both of whom were coaches at the Elite 11 QB camp where they get to cast their eyes over the very best talent in the High School world.

In 2014, Murray attending the Elite 11 camp where he would compete with Arizona Cardinals QB Josh Rosen and 2018 Draft competitor Drew Lock (also included Power 5 signees Brandon Wimbush, Deondre Francois).

Kyler walked an accuracy contest where he showcased himself as the nation’s number 1 dual threat quarterback. Without a shadow of a doubt.

Yogi Roth went on to say “I think that he was elite in high school, He could just make little movements to get out of pockets or get to a place where he can make a second or third reaction play, and clearly the kid was special.”

One of the biggest compliments paid to the Elite 11 team is their understanding in the need to emphasize throws that are off platform, in other words Elite 11 are famed for recreating quarterbacking situations where the pocket is compromised.

Yogi’s coaching colleague, Trent Dilfer believes it’s that emphasis towards uncomfortable throwing situations that has allowed the modern NFL to include so many more bootlegs RPOs and roll outs in recent years.

“I think that’s why you’re seeing so much growth in the off-platform game in college football — whether it be an RPO, a movement pass, a bootleg, a sprint out — it’s because these kids are better equipped at a young age,” Dilfer said.

As an undersized, dual-threat QB, you’ll be hearing a lot of talk about Murray being hit but the fact of the matter is his experience sliding in Baseball has taught him how to avoid contact and pick as many yards as physically possible.

If we’re being completely honest, Murray’s size presents a huge concern for NFL GMs when he runs. And he does run an awful lot so there have been plenty of opportunities for Murray to get destroyed out in the open field – but the fact is he doesn’t get touched.

It’s Murray’s cat-like reflexes and sharpness that allow him to stay out of trouble for days, and if you think he couldn’t do it in the Pros, well I’m willing to bet he barely gets hit there either.

At 1:11:30 in the above game vs UCLA you’ll be able to see Murray’s baseball abilities coming through as he scrambles and slides to avoid contact.

That’s not to say he hasn’t been lit up, in fact during a game vs Auburn in his freshman year Murray was knocked unconscious after being hit by a linebacker. (video timestamped at 1:38.08 for Murray injury)

Murray also picked up a minor injury in May, 2018 whilst turning out for the Sooners Baseball team. Although neither injury kept Murray out for long, it is a reminder that Murray can’t avoid being hit completely, especially at the NFL level, nonetheless I think at the very minimum Murray’s skills should at least limit the contact.

The Sooners #1 is the definition of what a dual-threat QB should be, he’s what everyone wants Lamar Jackson to be. His ability to make plays with both his arms and his legs are a major advantage.

We’ve discussed his ability to avoid the hit in open play and the Florida Atlantic game gives you living proof of him doing so.

But what we haven’t discussed yet is Murray’s arm. Much like Buffalo Bulls QB Tyree Jackson, Murray possesses an incredibly strong arm with a level of velocity you wouldn’t expect of someone Murray’s stature.

His play from the pocket is equally as explosive as his legs and whilst he may not be the passer that 2018 1st round pick Baker Mayfield was is, he’s definitely not far behind.

The touch he places on the ball is nothing short of magical but the biggest thing for me when Watching Murray is that despite the constant pressure he still manages to find time to go through his progressions whilst being chased down – I’ve honestly never seen anybody at the college level manage to do this so effectively on a consistent basis.

His quick release helps him get the ball out quick and with velocity. Though immeasurable, Murray’s arm definitely has the “it” factor that can seperate quarterbacks.

A big issue with Murray is unfortunately something he can do nothing about – his size. Murray definitely isn’t 5’10. In fact I would argue he’s 5’8 and at an absolute max 5’9

The last QB even remotely close to Murray’s size was Doug Flutie who admittedly had a fantastic career playing football across the Collegiate, NFL and CFL level.

The only quarterback I can think of who’s ever been shorter than Kyler Murray is Eddie Lebaron, a 1950’s quarterback who turned out for the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys.

Murray’s weight also needs improving, I’m sure he’ll bulk up the closer to the draft we get but at 195lbs something definitely needs to be done.

Kyler is also coming in for much of the same criticism Baker Mayfield suffered from in that the majority of his competition has come from the BIG12, a conference famed for having weak defensive talent. I’m not sure what Murray can do about that considering you can only beat what’s in front of you.

My biggest issue with Murray’s on field play is his desire to write the headline, he often plays the hero and goes for the hero ball. A lot of the time this leads to inaccurate poor passes as he ignores the open short gain in favour of the big pass attempt.

I did have concerns regarding his commitment but after listening to what he’s been saying recently, I think it’s safe to say that won’t be a problem you’ll encounter with him.

Statistically in 2018 Kyler completed 69% of his passes throwing for 42 touchdowns and 7 interceptions leading to a passer rating of 199.2. On the ground Murray amassed over 1,000 yards and ran in for 12 touchdowns.

The bottom line here is that Kyler Murray should be the first quarterback off the board if we’re solely looking at passing talent. He’ll definitely be a day one guy but I wonder if his size will consider NFL GMs to take a safer option.

If, and I highly doubt it, murray measures in at 5’10 at the combine I imagine he will be taken 1st overall, definitely within the top 5. If, as I suspect he measures even lower then I think there’s a strong possibility that he falls towards the latter end of the first round (someone will take him in the first round to secure the 5th-year option).

Despite all of this if I’m the Denver Broncos, Jacksonville Jaguars, Miami Dolphins or New York Giants I’m trading up to acquire Murray.

Currently, there isn’t anyone quite like Murray in the NFL. Russell Wilson would be the closest comparison but I feel he’s closer to Baker Mayfield, Drew Brees or Patrick Mahomes with a rushing game that I’ve never seen a QB come out with.

Strengths:

  • Incredibly quick and elusive
  • His ability to make plays with his legs trumps that of Lamar Jackson
  • An accurate arm across short-intermediate and deep ball throw
  • Unparallelled athleticism in the 2019 draft

Weaknesses:

  • I can’t ignore his size unfortunately and it will count against him for some
  • Can often look for the big play when it isn’t needed
  • Plays in a traditionally weak conference
  • Relatively small collegiate sample size
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