Kyler Murray’s announcement on Monday was a mere formality.
Fans of the NFL were disappointed nearly a week ago because of that atrocity of a Super Bowl.
The former Oklahoma quarterback revealed via Twitter his intention to forgo a career in the MLB and fully commit to the NFL.
But it was clear he’d made that choice two months ago when Murray gripped that bronze Heisman trophy in his hands.
And he made the right decision.
Despite the doubts, Murray’s athleticism, accuracy and field vision will allow him to thrive in the NFL.
Since he declared for the draft in January, analysts and draft experts have squinted at his 5-foot-10, 195-pound stature.
The argument is that his size will limit his ability to be effective in the pocket and make the same throws downfield that he did in college when he faces the NFL’s defensive linemen, who are 6-foot-3 on average. And the Von Millers and Khalil Macks of the NFL world will feast on his small frame.
That could all be true, and he’ll certainly face much better defenses than he did in the Big 12. But his size won’t be the ultimate determinant of his success at the next level. His talent will.
Murray is elusive. He’s an elite passer. He’s a playmaker. And he was lethal in Lincoln Riley’s run-pass option system this past season. He threw for over 4,300 yards and 42 touchdowns. And he rushed for another 1,000 yards.
When has there ever been a better time for undersized quarterbacks in the NFL?
The league has been trending in a direction that makes it easier for quarterbacks who don’t fit the prototypical mold to rise to elite levels purely with their athleticism.
The quarterback’s role in the run game is more important now than it used to be, and so is the need for QBs to make plays outside the pocket. “Small” quarterbacks like Drew Brees, Russell Wilson and Baker Mayfield have done that.
Size was a dominant storyline for both Wilson and Mayfield when they entered the league.
Wilson, who the NFL lists at 5-foot-11, slipped to the third round of the 2012 draft partly because of his size.
But Mayfield was drafted first overall by the Cleveland Browns in 2018.
Granted, that was partially because of their desperate need for a quarterback, but the Browns’ willingness to take a chance on Mayfield (6-foot-1) that high in the draft shows that the league is changing.
And look how it turned out for Cleveland.
Mayfield threw for 3,700 yards and 27 touchdowns and led the Browns to their highest win total (seven) since the 2014 season. He only played in 14 games this season, starting 13 of them.
For teams whose prime need is at the quarterback position, why not take a chance on another Heisman trophy-winning Oklahoma quarterback?
Opinions about Murray’s size have complicated something that’s actually very simple.
Downfield accuracy. Ability to extend plays. Pocket awareness. If he has at least one of those qualities, chances are he’ll be at minimum a decent NFL quarterback.
And if that’s all Kyler Murray needs to be successful at the next level, just crown him Rookie of the Year now.
Alanis Thames is the online sports editor of the Alligator. Follow her on Twitter @alanisthames and contact her at [email protected].