Lincoln Riley pushes back on Kyler Murray criticism, says QB was a 'tremendous leader'

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Lincoln Riley isn’t surprised by negative things being said about Kyler Murray. But he seems exasperated by them.

Riley told “The Dan Patrick Show” on Wednesday that Murray was a tremendous leader for the Sooners. According to the NFL Network’s Charley Casserly, a former general manager, Murray did not interview well with teams and they thought his attitude and study habits weren’t good.

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The Oklahoma coach said the disparaging comments were part of the draft process. He also pushed back on any idea that Murray was a bad leader.

“Not surprising, that’s just in the fact that it’s that time of year and people are going to say different things,” Riley said. “I just hate that people go out and make these comments, and you’ve never even talked to the two people that’s actually coached this kid. You haven’t talked to teammates. You went on what one team said. Probably a smokescreen knowing how this draft deal works and the back and forth.

“Kyler was a tremendous leader for us. Tremendous leader. Very aggressive … all he cares about is winning, and I think our team took on that personality without a doubt.”

Riley also said that he had talked with the “majority” of teams that had met with Murray in the pre-draft process and that they had come away with opinions far different than the assessment Casserly shared on NFL Network.

Lincoln Riley (L) and Kyler Murray pose after Murray became Riley's second straight quarterback to win the Heisman Trophy. (AP)
Lincoln Riley (L) and Kyler Murray pose after Murray became Riley's second straight quarterback to win the Heisman Trophy. (AP)

“I know Kyler met with a lot of different teams at the combine and I’ve personally spoken with the majority of the teams that he met with and every one of them were glowing in their reports about Kyler,” Riley said.

Basically the complete opposite of what Casserly threw out there.

“You’re not going to make everyone happy. That is true. One team didn’t like him and that’s OK. And trust me, there’s about 25 others out there that absolutely love him.”

Murray is the favorite to go No. 1 overall to the Arizona Cardinals. Riley and new Arizona coach Kliff Kingsbury are part of the Mike Leach coaching tree, and Riley said that he last talked to Kingsbury last month. He played coy about the details of their conversation, so it’s a safe bet that Murray was a topic of that discussion.

‘They’re both just damn good’

Murray became the second straight Oklahoma quarterback to win the Heisman after Baker Mayfield won the award in 2017. Mayfield, as you know, went No. 1 to the Cleveland Browns in the 2018 NFL draft.

Both quarterbacks don’t have the prototypical height that NFL teams want at the position. But they were insanely productive in college. Riley called them both “rare breeds” who are “just damn good.”

He also added that Murray’s skills were extremely unique. If and when he’s chosen in the first round of the NFL draft, he’ll become the first player to be picked in the first round of the Major League Baseball draft and the first round of the NFL draft.

“In Kyler’s case, you’re talking about a skillset that college football’s never seen and the NFL’s never seen,” Riley said. “You’re talking about a rare, rare skillset that just gets it done and creates so many problems defensively.”

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.

Follow @NickBromberg on Twitter

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