NORMAN, Okla. — Kyler Murray extended the drama and debate about his future at least until the NFL scouting combine in six weeks.
Get ready for a whole lot more talk about whether Murray’s eventual destiny is centerfield for the Oakland A’s or trying to duplicate his college success in the NFL.
The Heisman winner from Oklahoma and Allen High School confirmed what most people anticipated in a brief tweet Monday afternoon: “I have declared for the NFL draft.”
Not much has changed unless Murray inexplicably uses the 72-hour window to withdraw from the draft.
He had two very good options and plenty of leverage leading up the announcement and still has it now, which is the key. There are no bad choices here for Murray, only opportunities that come with dollar signs.
About the only door that will close is the always long-shot possibility of him returning for his final year of eligibility at Oklahoma. Now the Sooners will have to find a replacement at quarterback, either in the grad transfer market (Jalen Hurts?), with returnee Tanner Mordecai or prized incoming recruit Spencer Rattler.
The A’s, who took Murray with the ninth overall pick in last year’s MLB draft and gave him a $4.66 million signing bonus, are still in the game. They sent a delegation to meet with Murray in Dallas on Sunday, reportedly pitching offers to make him continue his baseball career, including adding him to the major-league roster with a contract to match.
So far, the A’s view this as another step in the process, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. That could change if he left spring training for the NFL combine, which starts Feb. 26, according to the newspaper.
And Murray is far more of an interesting NFL prospect now than when the A’s drafted him in June. Then, he was a former star high school quarterback but unproven on the college level. Now, he’s fresh from putting together one of the best offensive seasons in college football and igniting all kinds of an interest from an NFL that has gotten college offense religion.
Even as talking heads question Murray’s height — Oklahoma media relations director Mike Houck tweeted Monday that Murray was measured at 5-9 7/8 in socks by the school’s strength staff — his stock has grown. He’s projected as a potential first-round pick in some mock drafts. Given that Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson got a $9.47 million contract with a $5 million signing bonus for being the final pick in the first round last year, Murray could exceed his baseball windfall.
Plus there are questions that only Murray can answer: would he be content playing in the minors for a couple seasons? What kind of effect does the NFL success of spread quarterbacks like former teammate Baker Mayfield, Patrick Mahomes, Jared Goff and Jackson have on the equation? Where does his heart lie?
He certainly won’t be short on advice from his athletic family or from super-agent Scott Boras.
Mesquite High football coach Jeff Fleener, Murray’s offensive coordinator at Allen, said last month he wasn’t sure of Murray’s intentions. But he offered an interesting evaluation.
“In all the times I’ve gotten to see him go play baseball, I’ve never seen him with that ‘it’ factor the way you see him on a Saturday in front of a 100,000 people on national TV and everything’s on the line,” Fleener told SportsDay’s Ben Baby. “There’s just a different look to him. He carries himself a different way.”