Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Kyler Murray will begin his professional baseball career at season’s end, but wouldn’t it be cool if he played in the NFL?
Kyler Murray has been outstanding in his first, and only, season as the Oklahoma Sooners star quarterback. He backed up 2017 Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield last year, seeing Oklahoma win the Big 12 for the third year in a row and make the College Football Playoff for the second time in three years.
However, unlike Mayfield, Murray almost certainly won’t be playing football professionally on fall Sundays. It’s not that he’s not good enough to have a shot at playing in the NFL, but rather he has already signed his professional MLB contract with the Oakland Athletics. Murray is a two-sport star at Oklahoma and was Oakland’s first-round pick in last spring’s MLB draft.
Athletics general manager Billy Beane worked out a deal that would allow Murray to start under center for Lincoln Riley in 2018 at Oklahoma. With Murray being undersized and playing in an Air Raid system, he’s probably better off financially to play baseball professionally, hoping to start in the Oakland outfield within the next year or so.
That being said, what if Murray decided it was in his best interest to channel his inner Bo Jackson, Brian Jordan or Deion Sanders and attempt to play both sports professionally at the same time?
Better yet, what if he just went all-in on football like former college star quarterbacks Russell Wilson and Jameis Winston? What kind of player would Murray be in the NFL? All we know is it would be a ton of fun to watch.
Murray is only 5-foot-10, 195 pounds. Even Mayfield, Wilson and New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees are around 6-feet. The only quarterback of note to have some success under 6-feet in recent decades was former Heisman Trophy winner Doug Flutie. He had to play in the CFL before getting his shot with the Buffalo Bills in the late 1990s.
Height limitations aside, Murray might actually have a better shot at playing in today’s NFL than in any era prior. NFL offenses are increasingly adopting college passing concepts in their play design. This would only help Murray’s chances to star in the NFL.
It was once unthinkable for an Air Raid quarterback to have success in the NFL. Now former Texas Tech Red Raiders gunslinger Patrick Mahomes is a serious NFL MVP candidate in his first season as a starter with the Kansas City Chiefs. Even Riley is garnering some consideration to be an NFL head coach next fall. Not sure there is a better job available than the one he has in Oklahoma in 2018, but we’ll see.
For Murray to work in the NFL, he’d need to play in a southern climate or in a dome to help offset his smaller frame and lack of familiarity in a pro-style offense. With the right offensive line in front of him and the right play caller in his ear, Murray could conceivably have a breakout rookie campaign if he were to start right away.
He might be in the Michael Vick/Lamar Jackson dual-threat vein, so he wouldn’t be the first of his kind in that regard. Frankly, he could have a rookie year like Robert Griffin III had in 2012 with the Washington Redskins or Dak Prescott did in 2016 with the Dallas Cowboys, both of whom could make plays with their arms and legs.
Speaking of the Cowboys, we’re all thinking the same thing here. What if Dallas owner Jerry Jones decided to hit the reset button on his underperforming franchise’s offense? He’d have to let head coach Jason Garrett go and not pay Prescott this offseason as he had previously said.
Jones has all the money in the world to pry Riley out of Norman. It wouldn’t be the first former Sooners head coach he’d get to leave the college ranks for the NFL. Just ask Super Bowl champion Barry Switzer. To further go down this wormhole, what if Riley in his first draft as Cowboys head coach used a day-two pick on his most recent signal caller in Murray?
Murray wouldn’t start right away, but could usurp whatever journeyman collecting a check would be ahead of him on the Dallas quarterback depth chart. Since Dallas is America’s Team, and the team Boomer Sooner Nation largely cheers for on Sundays anyway, could you just imagine the Murray/Riley Cowboys beating an NFC East rival in primetime around this time next year?
Dallas/Fort Worth would lose its collective mind. Football is everything in the Southwest, especially in Texas. Of course, Murray should play baseball, as he has a significantly better chance to become a star in the MLB. But a boy can dream.
Seeing him fly around the bases for Beane in the Bay Area should be fun for years to come. However, it would resonate to higher degree nationally if his dual-threat playmaking ability was carving up the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday Night Football in November. It’s certainly a pipe dream, but we’ve seen stranger things happen in the NFL before.