Yahoo Sports' top 2019 NFL draft prospects, No. 10: Oklahoma QB Kyler Murray

Yahoo Sports

Leading up to the 2019 NFL draft, which starts April 25, Yahoo Sports will count down our top 100 overall prospects. We’ll count them down 10 at a time, followed by profiles on our top 30 overall players.

Previous entries: Nos. 100-91 | 90-81 | 80-71 | 70-61 | 60-51 | 50-41 | 40-31 | 30. Drew Lock | 29. Deandre Baker | 28. Taylor Rapp | 27. Garrett Bradbury | 26. Dexter Lawrence | 25. Jerry Tillery | 24. Josh Jacobs | 23. Christian Wilkins | 22. Cody Ford | 21. Noah Fant | 20. Andre Dillard | 19. Greedy Williams | 18. Dwayne Haskins | 17. Rashan Gary | 16. D.K. Metcalf | 15. Clelin Ferrell | 14. Florida OT Jawaan Taylor | 13. Byron Murphy | 12. Jonah Williams | 11. Devin White

10. Oklahoma QB Kyler Murray

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5-foot-10, 207 pounds

Key stat: Murray became only the second quarterback in FBS history to throw for 4,000 or more yards and rush for 1,000 or more yards in a season. Deshaun Watson in 2015 was the other.

The skinny: A four-star recruit who led Texas power Allen High School to a 43-0 mark as starting QB, Murray had colleges from all over the country seeking his services. The National Gatorade Player of the Year eventually chose Texas A&M – which is where his father, Kevin, set school passing marks from 1983 to 1986 – over more than a dozen other schools. Murray saw action in eight games for the Aggies as a true freshman in 2015, starting three games and completing 72-of-121 passes (59.5 percent) for 686 yards, five TD and seven INT passing. He also rushed 53 times for 335 yards (6.3 average) and one score.

Following that season, Murray transferred to Oklahoma where he sat out the 2016 season. In 2017, Murray backed up Heisman Trophy-winning QB Baker Mayfield, appearing in seven games. Murray passed for 359 yards on 18-of-21 attempts with three TDs and no INTs; he also ran 14 times for 142 yards. Prior to last season, Murray was selected ninth overall in the 2018 Major League Baseball amateur draft by the Oakland A’s, who offered him a $4.6 million signing bonus. An outfielder for the Sooners, Murray batted cleanup in 2017 and hit .296 with 10 homers, 47 RBI and 10 steals.

(Murray’s father was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in 1982 and played one year of rookie-level ball in their system. Murray’s uncle, Calvin, was a first-round pick of the San Francisco Giants and played five years in the majors, hitting eight home runs, driving in 54 runs and stealing 22 bases in 288 games. See the “Fun Fact” below for more on Calvin Murray’s most famous baseball moment.)

In 2018, Murray won the Heisman Trophy Award, making it the first time that a school produced back-to-back winners from two different QBs. Murray completed 260-of-377 passes (69.0 percent) for 4,361 yards, 42 TDs and seven interceptions and rushing 123 times for 1,001 yards (7.3 average) and 12 TDs. He started 13-of-14 games (not starting against Baylor because he was late for practice) and amassed several other honors in the process, being named first-team AP All-American and AP Player of the Year; and winning the Davey O'Brien Award and Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year.

Murray, who turns 22 years old in August, declared early for the 2019 NFL draft and passed up a chance to play for the A’s despite their reported attempt to lure him to baseball for an additional $14 million.

Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray (1) in the Orange Bowl NCAA college football game against Alabama. (AP Photo)
Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray (1) in the Orange Bowl NCAA college football game against Alabama. (AP Photo)

Upside: Outstanding run-pass threat with electric skills. Live arm that can spray the ball easily all over the field. Nice, compact release and easy delivery to drive the ball vertically. Can hit the tough NFL throws – deep and outside the hashes – and put the entire field in play for a defense. Sets quickly and delivers strikes. Reads the field high to low and has a vertical, shot-taking mentality – isn’t afraid to give his receivers chances downfield. Keeps his balance and throws on the move extremely well. Sees routes uncover quickly and can let it rip fast.

Great accuracy and touch – delivers a nice, catchable ball. Light on his toes at the top of his drop. Can throw off-platform and make something out of nothing. Houdini escape artist amid pressure and will sting defenses as a scrambler but still has mentality to make it pay through the air first. Has shown plenty of patience on tape with progression reads and subtle pocket movement. Lives to make tight-window throws to prove critics wrong.

Hard to hit – not only elusive as a designed runner and scrambler, but also adept at avoiding contact or going out of bounds, which will make his NFL coaching staff happy. Baseball slider at the end of his runs, which already puts him ahead of a lot of young athletic QBs. Will gut a defense with big-play potency – 11.6 yards per pass attempt and 7.2 yards per carry. Stood up well vs. pressure in 2018: 37-of-72 passing, 633 yards (8.8 yards per attempt), nine TDs, only two INTs and a 109.5 passer rating. Can convert third-and-longs myriad ways. Good in late, close games. Good ball security – 14 INTs (seven as freshman on dysfunctional A&M team) and six fumbles (three lost) in 30 college football games.

Strong mental makeup. Determined athlete who has winning profile. A carry-on-his-back type of leader. Instills confidence in his teammates with his play. Second half of the Alabama game showed how he’s never really out of it. Here’s a nice scouting thread on that game:

Downside: Extremely undersized for the position – Murray shorter than Russell Wilson and lean frame in the vain of smaller, athletic quarterbacks who have populated the league in recent decades, such as Michael Vick, Seneca Wallace, Pat White and others. Murray weighed in at 207 pounds at the NFL scouting combine, but NFL evaluators believe he played closer to the 190-pound range. (He weighed 205 at his pro day.) Murray also opted not to test athletically at the combine or his pro day – and opted not to have height remeasured there. Very little body armor to take repeated punishment. Thin legs.

One-year starter in QB-friendly system with NFL-caliber talent at receiver, tight end, running back and on the offensive line (the unit that won the Joe Moore Award for the best in college football). System built around predetermined throws and half-field reads; wasn’t as natural in more true progression situations. Still can learn to take checkdowns more readily and put a little better touch on some throws. Faced battery of roundly maligned Big 12 defenses and looked less comfortable in step up in competition against Alabama in national semifinals. Bama seemed to confuse Murray with a “double robber” defense that clogged up the middle of the field and caused him to hold the ball a tick longer.

Must prove he can sniff out disguised coverages and blitzes. Will need to continue to work on true pocket diagnostics. Full-field vision could be impaired by height disadvantage without the right lanes and line splits created for him. Can get by on raw ability but also must have to adapt his game as defensive coordinators stockpile film on him and his tendencies. Not quite as pinpoint as Baker Mayfield was in 2017. Almost exclusively operated in shotgun and pistol formations and likely will need to fine-tune his drops from centers, depending on the system.

Maturity has been questioned – must be accountable pro and 2018 suspension is enough proof for some that he needs growth in that area. Looked awkward in some media interview sessions and might not be a traditional face-of-the-franchise paragon. Some NFL teams reportedly questioned whether Murray’s style of leadership would translate effectively into a league of strong personalities with jobs on the line every day. Baseball fallback option still frightens some teams, even if Murray has said he’s full steam ahead with football. One team said Murray came off as a bit defensive when it asked him about his commitment to the NFL.

Best-suited destination: Murray is a rare playmaker with a unique skill set who could change the paradigm at the position in the NFL with success. It’s going to take the right system fit to fully unlock his special talents and keep him from getting killed, but Murray appears to have the toughness and ability to get it done.

He’s roundly been rumored to be the target of the Arizona Cardinals, who own the first pick in the draft, and would be a good fit in the “Air Raid” offense they’re installing with Murray’s deep-passing and ability to evade pressure. But Murray also could be on the radar of the New York Giants, Oakland Raiders, Washington Redskins, Miami Dolphins, Cincinnati Bengals and other teams should things change.

Fun fact: Calvin Murray had a five-year major-league career, but it was one spring training at-bat that has become his legacy: He was the man at bat when Randy Johnson did this:

They said it “Kyler is a freak … I would take him with the first pick of the draft if I could.”

— Former Texas Tech head coach (and current Cardinals head coach) Kliff Kingsbury in October

Player comp: Russell Wilson is the obvious one, along with Vick, but we also see elements of Deshaun Watson in his game in terms of his throwing prowess and ability to strike from anywhere on the field

Expected draft range: Top-five pick, and perhaps first overall

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