Kyler Murray declares for the NFL

Jacob VanZuiden, Courier Staff

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By now you’ve heard the name Kyler Murray. Currently one of the hottest names in all of sports, the budding phenom quarterback took the college football world by storm this season, shattering multiple records on his way to becoming the University of Oklahoma’s second Heisman Trophy winner since Baker Mayfield in 2017. The redshirt senior netted the second-most total yards of all time in a season with 4,945 yards altogether. This past Monday at 2:23 p.m. via his own personal Twitter account, it became official that Murray is heading to the 2019 NFL Draft.

However, he will be faced with an extremely tough decision. Murray, a standout athlete in baseball at OU as well, was drafted with the No. 9 overall pick of the 2018 MLB Draft by the Oakland Athletics as a left fielder. At just 21-years- old, Murray has a bright future in whichever sport he ultimately decides to pursue. Nonetheless, it will be the biggest decision he has to make in upcoming months.

Murray has a long family history of athletic success. His father, Kevin Murray, was a standout quarterback at Texas A&M where he was a two-time second-team all-American and led the Aggies to a Cotton Bowl title, along with two conference championships in the 1980s. Coincidentally, Kevin also spent time in the Milwaukee Brewers’ minor league system before attending A&M. Kyler’s uncle also excelled in baseball, spending time in the MLB with three different teams: the San Francisco Giants, Texas Rangers and Chicago Cubs. No impediment on Murray’s talent, it seems as if he were destined to become a professional athlete. In fact, assuming he is selected in the first round of this year’s NFL Draft, Murray will become the only player in the history of sports to be drafted in the first round of both the MLB and NFL Draft.

Instead of choosing one sport over the other, some analysts have suggested that Murray could choose the route that would make him a modern-day Bo Jackson. While the comparison of the two is interesting to think about, it’s a bit far-fetched considering the difference of the two’s physical build and frame. Standing at just 5-foot-10 and 194 pounds, it’s hard to believe that Murray’s body could endure the physical stress of both sports and remain both durable and effective in his respective careers. Jackson was one-of-a-kind and at 230 pounds, he was built like a brick wall from head to toe. Ultimately, the comparison of the two is unrealistic.

Not many decisions can impact a decorated athlete as much as the one staring Murray in the face. In February, he’s going to have to determine where he sees more future suess and income. If you ask Deion Sanders, a 14-year NFL veteran who won two Super Bowls with the Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers, he’ll tell you that Murray should choose baseball and not think twice about it. Earlier this week, in a sit-down interview with Champion, Sanders reflected on his decision to play professional football over baseball and is seemingly trying to help Murray avoid the same mistake he made.

“If I was in his shoes, I’m picking up the bat, and I’m not looking back,” Sanders said. “That’s just for me. Sometimes, I still have regret that I didn’t give it [baseball] more, but you know, I’ve got a gold jacket in the closet. I’m straight. But I wish I would have given it more.”

Going the baseball route could give Murray an extended career in the long run as compared to football, but the NFL offers him something the MLB cannot: a guaranteed roster spot and ample opportunity right from the get-go. There’s no question that Murray can make a lot of money in baseball long-term, but star quarterbacks, which Murray just so happens to be, are generally seen as diamonds in the rough and NFL teams have no problem paying the premium for them. He would net a gaudy salary if he is, in fact taken in the first round and would be able to forego several seasons of baseball in the minor leagues where an injury or freak incident could occur on his track to the big leagues. In this day and age, nothing is for certain. Taking the guaranteed money in front of him to play in the NFL should be a huge factor in his decision.

Critics have been skeptical about Murray’s lack of size at the quarterback position and how his game translates to the NFL. While that’s a fair point to address, the same said-to-be knocks on his game resemble Seahawk quarterback Russell

Wilson’s in the draft process back in 2012, and it’s evident to know how that turned out. For Murray, his football IQ and situational intelligence are superb. He also does a great job of limiting turnovers, a key quality that NFL draft scouts look for. This could largely correlate with his ability to escape the pocket and make his presence felt as a runner instead of forcing throws downfield when under pressure. As a ball carrier, Murray possesses good vision and elusiveness that forces the defense to key-in on him each and every play. This will open things up for him on offense in the pros and make his life easier compared to other immobile quarterbacks.

Rumblings around the league show multiple scenarios where Murray would wind up as a top-10 pick. Two quarterback-needy teams in the Giants and Jaguars pick back-to-back at picks No. 6 and 7. Imagining the trio of Murray, Saquon Barkley and Odell Beckham Jr. in the Big Apple is exciting and could end up a very real possibility come April. At the end of the day, however, it’ll be up to Murray to decide which sports career he wants to pursue, but the money that will be thrown at him by the NFL right from day one will be hard for the emerging star to pass up.

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