Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma
Height: 5'10 (and one-eighth!)
Combine/Pro Day results:
Sorry. Murray has avoided all the testing at both the Scouting Combine and Oklahoma's Pro Day.
*Played at Texas A&M
Murray arrived in college a heralded recruit with a dazzling high school resume. He went 42-0 across 3 starting seasons in Allen, Texas, winning 3 state titles and closing out his run as the Gatorade national player of the year. Murray also became the 1st player to take part in the Under Armour all-star games for both football and baseball.
Murray began his college career at Texas A&M, sitting behind future NFL QB Kyle Allen until the end of October. When Murray finally got his 1st start against South Carolina on Halloween, he became just the 2nd SEC QB in 20 years to notch 100+ yards and a TD both passing and rushing in his 1st start. (Cam Newton at Auburn was the other.)
After the season, though, an apparent lack of communication between Coach Kevin Sumlin's staff and its QBs led to Allen and Murray both transferring. Murray, of course, chose Oklahoma, sat out 2016 (under NCAA transfer rules), backed up Baker Mayfield in 2017 and then got his shot last season.
Murray merely followed Mayfield's Heisman campaign with his own, ranking among the nation's top 5 in passing efficiency, passing yards, passing TDs and rushing yards by a QB. Murray became just the 2nd QB in FBS history to throw for 4,000 yards and rush for 1,000 in the same year (following Clemson's Deshaun Watson in 2015).
Beyond the traditional stats, Pro Football Focus credited Murray with the nation's 7th-deepest average depth of target in 2018. He also checked in 2nd in passer rating when pressured and a decent 18th in deep-ball passer rating. (Murray shows some inconsistency in that area on tape, which we'll get to later.) PFF also rated Murray top-2 in adjusted completion rate, adjusted completion rate vs. pressure and adjusted completion rate vs. the blitz -- as well as #7 in adjusted completion rate on deep throws.
Courtesy of @WhatsOnDraftNFL
Games watched: South Carolina (2015); Baylor, Kansas, Oklahoma State, Alabama (all 2018)
It doesn't take long to see what attracts people to Murray. His speed as a runner might be most apparent, and it was there from the start. Check this stop-start run for 28 against South Carolina, which allowed him 156 on the ground in his 1st college start ...
If you want to see any more of that, just check out any of his games -- even the Bama loss, in which Murray rushed for 109 yards. That marked his 3rd game of 100+ last season. Here's 1 more piece of rushing eye candy from last season against Kansas ...
How many QBs at any level are fast enough to get that ball into the end zone?
Murray also cracked 300 passing yards in 10 of his 14 outings for the year, and it's not difficult to see why.
Check out the touch on this toss down the sideline against Oklahoma State:
And look at the placement of this ball against Kansas (though the receiver wasn't able to haul it in while drawing a PI call):
And how 'bout this from his 1st college start, where Murray throws just enough behind his receiver (now-Arizona Cardinal Ricky Seals-Jones) to beat the coverage but also allow his man to make the catch ...
From the Oklahoma State game, here's the zip to fit one into a tight end-zone window (though the wideout couldn't quite get down in bounds):
And Murray sports plenty of arm to deliver the deep ball -- even when he's facing the Crimson Tide and doesn't get the chance to set his feet ...
Murray did display some inconsistency downfield over the 5 games I watched. This pair of poor deliveries from the Kansas game exemplified the issue ...
You'll also read some criticism of his decision-making. At times, Murray seems to do what plenty of other talented, young QBs do: trust his arm a little too much. Here's an INT he never should have thrown against the Jayhawks ...
We have to point out some negatives if we're going to evaluate Murray on film, but I sure don't see any reason for fantasy football owners to worry about him.
We can take some inconsistency in the deep range from a guy who has also showed his capable of and willing to make plays in that area. And the decision making? That's something for his prospective NFL coaches to worry about. Whatever INTs Murray might toss in the pros won't hurt our fantasy lineups nearly as much as his rushing and playmaking prowess will help.
The biggest question might be whether Murray can turn his 1 starting college season into a successful pro career. Again, that's more an issue for NFL front offices than for dynasty owners, who don't stand to lose much if Murray fails long term. But there's reason to be optimistic there.
Josh Hermsmeyer has done some recent work for FiveThirtyEight on what to seek in college QBs. And it looks like accuracy leads the way. Specifically, Hermsmeyer has developed a "completion percentage over expected" metric that combines raw completion rate with average depth of target and adjusts for opponents (in this case, the conference in which a QB plays).
The entire article I linked to above is well worth reading to gain a better understanding and to see some of the early results. For our purposes here, though, it's worth noting that Murray dominates the rest of this year's QB class in predicted probability of NFL success via Hermsmeyer's model.
And this doesn't even account for Murray's most fantasy-friendly trait: the rushing.
Since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger, there have been 32 QB seasons of 550+ rushing yards -- a number Deshaun Watson, Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson each eclipsed last year. Most of that has come in the 2000s, with the proliferation of dual-threat QBs. (Of the 6 such seasons that predated 2000, Randall Cunningham and Steve McNair accounted for 5.)
That group of 32 seasons produced an average fantasy finish of QB8, with a median of QB4.5. And that 7 seasons of 13 starts or fewer.
Bottom line: Murray's rushing ability looks special, and it has the potential to make him a special fantasy QB. Combine that with impressive passing (accuracy and arm strength) and he'll be well worth selecting at least 1.5 to 2 rounds ahead of the rest of this year's QBs in rookie drafts.