As Gatorade’s National Player of the Year and with a perfect record of 43-0 at legendary Allen High School, Kyler Murray decided to follow the footsteps of his father at Texas A&M. As the Aggies were struggling and the entire program seemed to have a lot of mess going on, Kyler and the other quarterback Kyle Allen decided to transfer, with Murray landing at Oklahoma.
After sitting out his first year at Norman and then backing up eventual Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield, Murray was selected in the MLB by the Oakland A’s. The pro baseball team allowed him to play his one year for the Sooner football program, but all the kid did was top the numbers Mayfield had put up. Kyler completed 69 percent of his passes for 4361 yards and 42 touchdowns on 11.6 yards per attempts, while adding over 1000 yards and another 12 TDs on the ground, averaging 7.2 yards a carry. Thanks to that he brought a second consecutive Heisman Trophy to the program and he chose football over baseball shortly after the Super Bowl.
Murray might be 5’10” at best and very miniature in size, but he was by far the most electrifying dual-threat quarterback in the nation and took home Heisman honors over Alabama’s Tua Tagovailova. He broke Pro Football Focus’ spider-chart and was their highest-graded passer and runner from the quarterback position.
Murray stepped up in every big game the Sooners played. I think of an epic 59-56 shootout against West Virginia or the revenge he got on Texas in the Big XII Championship game in back-to-back games. The play that sticks out to me from him as a runner is when he decided to go down the Texas sideline in their first matchup and you thought he’d be pushed out after like 20 yards, but he turned on the afterburners, defeated all the angles by the defenders and went almost 70 yards on the Longhorns.
I’m not sure if I have ever seen somebody with quicker feet (as in the highest frequency) at the position. So not only does he open an offensive coordinators playbook to all types of option or straight up QB runs, but as a defensive play-caller you already know that you almost can’t spy him with a linebacker and man-coverage could end very badly for you if he decides to take off.
With that being said, Kyler clearly is a passer first and even when he is moving around, he mostly has his eyes downfield. He has an incredible arm, which allows him to put the ball 70 yards in the air, as well as completing corner routes towards the opposite hash at 20+ yards deep. But not only does he has the arm strength to those things, Murray can change up RPMs, arc, etc. to let the ball drop into the bread-basket of a receiver going vertical, put it over the top of a linebacker or defeat tight man-coverage by putting it to where only his guy can come down with it on throws above the shoulders.
With his short, quick motion he exploit corner blitzes, as he lasers in balls that the replacement defender can’t contest as that guy is shading over that way. Even more than his arm, what I think is most impressive about Kyler as a quarterback is his incredible field vision. He has shown the ability to adjust on the fly in Lincoln Riley’s Air-Raid attack and constantly finds creative ways to fit throws into windows or create completely new lanes.
Even though he measured over 200 pounds at the combine, Kyler will need to protect himself at the next level. To do so I think he excellent feel for the rush collapsing and knows when it’s time to escape, plus he already has a beautiful slide from his baseball background. He just seems to have an innate feel for the bodies around him and how to manipulate rush lanes in order to create space for himself inside the pocket. So it’s not really about what this kid can do in the open field, but the way he can extend plays and allow his playmakers to get create late separation.
There are instances where Murray has somebody about to hit him right in the face and at the last moment he gets rid of the ball and turns his body away from the defender while fading backwards to avoid devastating shots. You see him tilt his feet away from potential tacklers and he understands how to create angles for himself to defeat the pursuit when he escapes the pocket, as he re-sets his feet and then he has the sudden burst to beat guys around the corner to avoid hits.
Murray excels at throwing the ball on the run and whilst moving up towards the line. He had this amazing throw versus Alabama in the Orange Bowl, as he looked like he would turn upfield, but then still let the ball go off the wrong foot for a 50-yard touchdown.
Outside of his height the biggest question about Murray is his commitment to football, as he might be the first guy ever to probably have the chance at any moment to jump ship and get a guaranteed contract by the Oakland A’s despite his statements.
On the field what I don’t like is that he drops his head a little too much in the pocket and he needs to work on swinging that back-leg through more consistently as a passer. Too often he preferred to spin out of traffic and tried to make somebody miss, instead of using the space inside the pocket to operate.
Murray benefited a whole lot playing behind college football’s top offensive line last season and incredible skill-position players around him, not even mentioning the creative play-design and calling under Lincoln Riley. A large amount of his numbers has come from lay-ups on mesh concepts and quick screens, as well as wide-open targets in the RPO game.
While there is a very small track record of successful NFL quarterbacks below six feet and Murray had just one season as a starter in the worst defensive Power Five conference, this kid is a such transcendent talent that I think he will continue his meteoric rise in the sport. He is a playmaker and his biggest strength is the ability to improvise, but he can also win from the pocket and slice defenses with aggressive downfield throws.
Despite his height he only had five batted passes last season. I believe you will have to adapt on offensive system in which Kyler is featured in shotgun, where he can use a lot of quick decision-making and which changes his launching point every once in a while. He would definitely be a perfect fit in Kliff Kingsbury’s offensive attack if the Cardinals decided to select him first overall in the draft.
Grade: Top 10Published 21 Apr 2019, 15:37 IST