Want to know who’s trending now that the NFL scouting combine has finished in Indianapolis?
Kyler Murray. He stepped on the scale, weighed 207 pounds and was a shade over 5-foot-10. He talked to some teams, but didn’t throw a ball, run a 40-yard dash or try to jump to the clouds. Yet the former Oklahoma quarterback has zoomed to the top of the draft lists, displacing a host of defenders, to be the favorite to become the top pick in next month’s draft.
If Murray does go No 1, he’d be the second Sooners quarterback to do so and it would be the third straight year that a homegrown Texan tops the draft, from Texas A&M’s Myles Garrett in 2017 to Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield in 2018 to Murray.
Murray, without doing much, won the combine. He’ll work out on campus for NFL teams on March 13. In the meantime, the Arizona Cardinals and new coach Kliff Kingsbury — who recruited Murray when he was starring at Allen High School — is on the clock. The Cardinals drafted Josh Rosen last year with the 10th pick of the draft. But the buzz this week suggests Rosen will be traded so that Kingsbury can select a quarterback who’s familiar with his up-tempo style.
“The Cardinals fully commit to Kliff Kingsbury and his vision in this scenario, which will lead the team to trade Josh Rosen,” said NFL.com analyst Daniel Jeremiah, who predicted Murray at No. 1, zooming him from 14th overall in his ratings last week to No. 1 this week.
The NFL is all about trends. Teams want the next Patrick Mahomes, who dazzled for Kingsbury at Tech. Mayfield won at Cleveland as a rookie. It makes sense to swing for another Big 12 quarterback.
But at least one NFL analyst is stomping on the idea of Murray going so high. Charley Casserly, the former general manager of the Houston Texans and Washington Redskins, now breaks down the draft for the NFL Network. His assessment of Murray was harsh, saying Tuesday that Murray’s interviews in Indy raised red flags of concern. He based his analysis on information he’d received from two unnamed teams.
“He better hope Kingsbury takes him No. 1 because this was not good,” Casserly said. “These were the worst comments I ever got of a high-rated quarterback and I’ve been doing this a long time. Leadership, not good. Study habits, not good. The board work (drawing up plays) below not good. Not good at all in any of those areas, raising major concerns about what this guy is going to do.
“Now, people are going to say we’re going to compare this guy to Mahomes. we’re going to run an offense like Mahomes, we’re going to run an offense like Baker Mayfield. But those guys are much different. Those guys, you never questioned them on their ability on the board. You never questioned their leadership ability, their work habits. They were outstanding in those areas. This guy is not outstanding in those areas and it showed up in the interview.”
The time between the combine and the draft also can be described as the tear-down stage. There is more information on prospects. But no team wants to tip their hand.
Other players from the state or Big 12 thrived at the combine.
- Iowa State receiver Hakeem Butler answered the biggest questions scouts had about him when he ran a 4.48 time in the 40-yard dash. That’s lightning-quick for a guy who was measured as 6-5 and 227 pounds. He averaged 22 yards a catch last season, so he has a nice combo of skill and production. He didn’t grab the headlines among receivers like Mississippi’s D.K. Metcalf, the nephew of former Texas Longhorns great Eric Metcalf. Metcalf is almost as tall as Butler, but ran a tenth-of-a-second faster.
- Texas linebacker Gary Johnson and defensive back Kris Boyd were impressive.
Johnson’s 40 time of 4.43 was the fourth-fastest all-time for a linebacker running at the combine. It tied for second this year behind two likely first-rounders, LSU’s Devin White and Michigan’s Devin Bush.
Boyd was the top cornerback prospect in the bench press with 19 reps of 225 pounds. His 40 time was 4.45.
- Texas A&M’s Kingsley Keke, who played both defensive tackle and end last season, ran a 4.95. That’s fast for an interior player and ranked among the top 10 at the combine for defensive linemen.
“I just want to show I’m one of the top defensive linemen in this class,” Keke told reporters. “I just want to prove that to everyone and keep getting better.”
- Erik McCoy, who played both guard and center at A&M, was the fastest offensive lineman at the combine, running a 4.89. And he was the sixth strongest on the bench press. He’s probably a center in the pros and could be the second one selected in the draft behind North Carolina State’s Garrett Bradbury.
- TCU’s Ben Banogu broke the combine record for the broad jump among defensive linemen, posting an 11-2. His 40-inch vertical also was best among linemen.
- Oklahoma State running back Justice Hill, who gave up his final season of eligibility to turn pro, impressed with his speed and agility. His 40 time of 4.4 was tops among tailbacks. He also posted the best vertical (40 inches) and broad jump (10-10) for his position.
The next phase of scouting starts almost immediately with the on-campus workouts.
These sorts of position drills, which are scripted, might not be too revealing. But it’s the next session of judgment for players like Murray and others hoping to join him at the top of the draft boards.
Upcoming pro days
March 6: Kansas State
March 12: Oklahoma State
March 13: Oklahoma
March 15: Texas State
March 20: Baylor
March 21: West Virginia
March 25: Texas Tech, Rice
March 26: Texas A&M, Iowa State, UTSA
March 27: Texas, Kansas
March 28: Houston, SMU, North Texas
March 29: TCU