- Charting the QB's trajectory, from benched freshman to baseball player to possible NFL prospect to No. 1 overall pick.
If, six months ago, you suggested Kyler Murray would be the first overall pick of the NFL draft, you would have been heckled until my voice was hoarse. A look back at Murray’s absurd rise to the top of the draft and—based on the current trajectory—his very big future in the NFL, other sports, and beyond:
2015: A Surefire Texas A&M Dynasty
NFL Draft Status: Baseball prospect, maybe a football prospect down the line
Murray chose Texas A&M, his father’s alma mater, over Oregon and Auburn, despite the presence of the previous year’s No. 2 quarterback recruit, Kyle Allen. It all but assured Kevin Sumlin a decades-long tenure in College Station.
Murray declined to enroll early—therefore ceding ground to Allen in the battle for the starting job—but eventually stepped into the lineup. Murray made his first start in November, throwing for 223 yards and running for 156 more in a 35-28 victory over South Carolina. He was benched after two more starts, because being intermittently benched for no particular reason is something that five-star quarterback recruits love—they yearn for it. Stunningly, first Allen and then, in mid-December, Murray announced their respective intentions to transfer. Murray chooses Oklahoma, where he'd have to sit out a season under the NCAA transfer rule. (TRIVIA BREAK: After Murray and Allen transferred, can you name who started the Aggies’ Music City Bowl matchup against Louisville? If you answered Jake Hubenak, you are correct and you are probably also Jake Hubenak.)
November 23, 2017: The Backup Baker
NFL Draft Status: Baseball prospect, football non-prospect
Things don’t go exactly as planned in Norman, as Baker Mayfield is granted another season of eligibility and returns for an eventual-Heisman-winning season in 2017. Murray’s first start comes late in the season against West Virginia, when Mayfield was suspended for the game’s first drive for—in anatomically accurate terms—“grabbing his wiener” while taunting hapless Kansas players the previous week. (On the first play from scrimmage against West Virginia, Murray keeps on a read-option and runs 66 yards to West Virginia’s 4-yard line. Rodney Anderson scores on the next play and Murray heads back to the bench after that.)
April 2018: The really real OU QB competition
NFL Draft Status: Pretty good baseball prospect
With Mayfield off to the NFL, Lincoln Riley swears Murray is definitely in a competition with Austin Kendall for the starting job heading into the 2018 season. It’s so, so very close, this QB competition—close enough to defy all sarcasm.
June 4, 2018: A’s draft Kyler Murray
NFL Draft Status: Top 10 pick in MLB draft
The A’s make Murray the ninth pick of the MLB draft, but will allow him to play college football that fall in a decision they will in no way ever regret. Perhaps because they heard that QB competition in Oklahoma was so very close. Like, as close as you can draw your index finger and thumb together without them touching each other. Murray’s contract with the Oakland A’s includes a $5.4 million signing bonus and, under Major League Baseball’s current labor agreement, puts him just a few decades or so away from his next payday (as long as he becomes a perennial All-Star).
August 22, 2018: Lincoln Riley names Kyler Murray his starter
NFL Draft Status: Prized MLB prospect
December 3, 2018: Kyler becomes the Heisman favorite
NFL Draft Status: Future baseball player
Murray finally overtakes season-long favorite Tua Tagovailoa after the Alabama QB bombs in the SEC title game.
December 5, 2018: Kyler Murray says MLB is plan, doesn’t rule out NFL
NFL Draft Status: Uhhhh, probable baseball player, but maybe a Day 2 draft pick
Boras reiterates to Fancred’s Jon Heyman that Murray “will be in spring training with the A’s.”
December 8, 2018: Murray wins the Heisman
NFL Draft Status: It only takes one team to make him a first-rounder
Dec. 13, 2018: The MMQB's Kalyn Kahler reports that Murray’s name has been submitted to draft advisory board, and NFL teams expect him to declare for the NFL draft
NFL Draft Status: Developmental guy with a good shot to go first-round
NFL evaluators aren’t all sold though: “Projections on Murray are all over the board. Some believe the CAC could give him a ‘return to school grade’ (Murray has said he will not play another season at Oklahoma) while others feel he’s a Day 2 pick with a chance to go in the first round thanks to raw talent and the lack of top-flight QBs in the 2019 draft class. It only takes one team to push him into the first night, and at least one scout thinks that scenario will play out: ‘With his arm and talent, he’s a first-round pick.’”
Jan. 8, 2019: Kliff Kingsbury hired by the Arizona Cardinals
NFL Draft Status: Things are getting interesting
The Cardinals front office pulls the trigger on the fired Texas Tech coach after up to multiple minutes, literally minutes, of consideration.
January 14, 2019: Kyler Murray declares for the 2019 NFL Draft
Draft Status: Seem like a probable first-round pick
AZCentral.com gathers some odds from various makers of odds, which put the, uh, odds of Murray going to the Cardinals (with any pick) at 5-to-1. Betonline.ag puts Arizona as the fourth most likely landing spot, behind the Raiders, Jaguars and Giants. BetDSI.com also puts Washington ahead of the Cards in their odds.
Also, a guy I know said this to himself as he typed it into a tweet:
The majority of evaluators I've asked see Murray as a Friday pick (Round 2-3). Thing about that, tho, is QBs routinely get moved up the board. That's why, over the last 4 years, there've been 13 first-round QBs, and just 2 second-round QBs.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) January 14, 2019
Will Murray move up anyone’s draft board? You won’t believe what happens next…
The Early Mock Drafts
Dane Brugler of The Athletic (Jan. 9): How about Washington at 15? (Dane jumped the gun before Murray’s official announcement and didn’t acknowledge our Kalyn Kahler’s report on Murray’s intentions from a month earlier, but that’s cool, that’s cool, no hard feelings…).
Mel Kiper of ESPN (Jan. 17): Miami seems like an agreeable destination for this particular gent.
Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com (Jan. 18): Murray sneaks into the first round, set to back up Tom Brady for the rest of eternity.
Lance Zeirlein of NFL.com (Jan. 29): Jon Gruden plays with a quarterback in his offense, so why not Oakland fourth overall?
CBS Sports (Feb. 4): Kyler Murray is so tiny that he can only be seen by the most powerful microscope available at Brookstone. Ergo, he will not be selected in the first round.
Feb. 28, 2019: The growth spurt
Draft Status: Potential first overall pick
Speculation around the NFL is that Murray is approximately 5' 915⁄16", small enough to have traveled to the Heisman ceremony in the breast pocket of Tua Tagovailoa’s tailored suit. However, Murray officially measures 5' 101⁄8" at the NFL scouting combine. As you know, this changes everything, which is why everyone felt the need to watch it then react to it. It definitely wasn’t because we needed a distraction from our empty lives that are devoid of love. This was a historic moment in measuring people. Because he measured up to three-eighths of an inch taller than anyone expected, Murray is now an elite NFL prospect.
March 2, 2019: “People are beginning to believe almost universally he will indeed be the No. 1 pick in this draft,” according to the NFL’s Kim Jones.
Draft Status: Likely first overall pick
March 3, 2019—April 25, 2019
Draft Status: Likely first overall pick. Probably. Or is he? Maybe he goes back to baseball at some point? Should we talk about that for a while? Is the AAF still playing? No? O.K. Let’s just sit quietly then.
April 25, 2019: The Arizona Cardinals select Kyler Murray with the first pick of the 2019 NFL draft
NFL Status: Franchise QB
The Josh Rosen era is over in Arizona.
Here we are, less than a week after a guy who, six months ago, was a baseball player in his final season of organized football going No. 1 overall. And to a team that just traded up to draft a presumed franchise quarterback last year. Considering the exponential growth of Murray’s "stock" in what was his second sport, and his mind-blowing rate of literal growth (if he had measured 5' 101⁄2" at the combine they’d be making his bust for Canton right now), a projection of what’s coming in Kyler Murray’s future.
Feb. 2, 2020: Arizona Cardinals are Super Bowl XLVI champions
Murray and the Cardinals run roughshod through the NFC and into Super Bowl LIV in Miami. Murray, now standing a confident 6' 2", leads three first-half touchdown drives against Bill Belichick’s Patriots defense. At halftime he drags his own PA system onto the field and drowns out the NFL-approved act—"Imagine Dragons Plays Nickelback’s Greatest Hits"—with his own musical performance, transcending genres even as he re-invents them. In the second half he throws, let's say, four more touchdowns in a Super Bowl MVP performance.
Spring/Summer of 2020: Two-sport stardom
Murray lives out his two-sport dream. But not in Major League Baseball, where ownership is cartoonishly ghoulish even by professional sports owner standards. No, a now-6' 8" Murray tries his hand at the NBA, signing locally with the Phoenix Suns. His utter dominance of the league is so thorough that he—in the style of NBA superstars—begins making daily trade demands, which are always granted. After being passed around the league’s 30 franchises he finally lands with the New York Knicks, forming a “Big Three” with the two mega-free agents the Knicks had signed in the summer of 2019 with the cap room they opened up in the Kristaps Porzingis trade: Ed Davis and Luke Babbitt. Murray and the Knicks embark on a historic run through the Eastern Conference playoffs, going unbeaten with an average margin of victory greater than 40 points, ultimately earning the right to be swept by the Golden State Warriors in the 2020 NBA Finals.
Winter of 2039: Murray retires from sports, conquers motion pictures
With 16 NFL MVP awards, 14 Super Bowl rings, nine NBA All-Star appearances and three Wimbledon titles, Murray announces his retirement from all professional sports in order to pursue a career in Hollywood. In his finest performance, he is cast alongside Gheorghe Muresan in a remake of the 1998 comedy “My Giant,” only this time Muresan is in the Billy Crystal role and Murray, standing 9' 7", plays the Muresan role. Also, this version of My Giant is set in outer space because it’s the future.
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