Matt Waldman’s RSP Film Room No.143: QB Kyler Murray (Oklahoma)

Matt Waldman delivers a 10-game, hour-long analysis on 2019 NFL Draft prospect Kyler Murray that includes roughly 50 plays, and the player comparison is not what you’d expect. 

Kyler Murray is a challenging evaluation.

He has elite physical skills in a below-average frame. A first-year starter in an offense that Baker Mayfield parlayed into a bright NFL future, Murray will need an NFL team that’s open to making its offensive system the tool of the quarterback rather than the quarterback a tool of the offense.

This is not guaranteed. Although the NFL is making strategic progress with its approach to young quarterbacks, we don’t have proof that it is becoming the norm.

Murray’s tape showcases moments of Pro Bowl accuracy and throwing range. He’s a passer who operates at a naturally high speed of movement. Take the wrong angle on Murray or his receiver and you’ll see a gassed and wrecked defense in Oklahoma’s wake.

If the Road Runner played quarterback in a Looney Tunes short, it would be inspired by 2018 Sooner highlights.

It’s this potentially dominating strength that’s also Murray’s greatest weakness. When opponents present problems that require Murray to slow down, his accuracy nosedives, his scrambling leads nowhere, and he thinks twice (or even three times) about his reaction.

In case you forgot, reaction to the speed of instinct is the desired flow for football players. Thinking on the field creates difficulties. Thinking twice or three times about what you’re doing — even if you’re the Road Runner of quarterbacks — doesn’t work well. Although not commonly discussed, there is such as a thing as “playing too fast.”

This RSP Film Room is an hour-long analysis that’s roughly 50 plays (maybe more, maybe a little less, I lost count) and covers a lot of components of Murray’s game:

  • Arm velocity
  • Touch
  • Anticipation
  • Pinpoint and general accuracy
  • Projectable play-action work
  • The height issue
  • Pocket footwork
  • Ball security
  • Decision-making as a runner
  • Promising pre-snap diagnostics
  • Performing at an optimal rhythm within the game flow

The verdict? I believe Murray is an NFL talent who can develop into a starting quarterback — a productive one in an offense that molds its offense to Murray’s strengths. Give him quick-tempo plays with built-in manipulations of the defense and use his legs wisely and Murray will be an exciting starter.

Although there are resemblances to Russell Wilson as an athlete, thrower, and scrambler, Wilson was, is, and may always be a more intuitive and savvy decision-maker. My comparison for Murray isn’t based on height and weight or the surface-level observations of movement and throwing style. If it were, I’d have to combine Wilson, Michael Vick, Joe Hamilton, and Jeff Blake in ways that would be too confounding.

Murray reminds (as odd as it will sound) of Carson Wentz. Both thrive in quick-hitting offenses that use the threat of the quarterback’s legs to open the middle of the field. Both possess excellent arm strength and top accuracy within 30 yards of the line of scrimmage and can stretch the field sideline-to-sideline. And when forced to scramble, both can buy enough time to let a receiver work behind a defense and then throw it behind the safety for huge plays.

Wentz is a more physical player, but Murray is more lethal challenging the deep end of the defense as a passer and runner.

If the team that acquires Murray borrows heavily from Philadelphia’s offense, it would maximize Murray’s strengths and minimize his shortcomings.  Even so, getting a player to slow his reactions to information could be a difficult task.

For me, the ultimate question is whether Murray has enough poise in his game to limit frenetic action when presented with challenges. That’s what’s left for me to consider as I continue studying him.

Mark Schofield and I will go into greater depth about the difficulty of Murray’s eval, as well as other players that are tough evaluations, in an upcoming RSP Cast that should be available this weekend.

For the most in-depth analysis of offensive skill players available (QB, RB, WR, and TE), get the 2019  Rookie Scouting Portfolio. If you’re a fantasy owner the Post-Draft Add-on comes with the 2012 – 2018 RSPs at no additional charge.

Best, yet, 10 percent of every sale is donated to Darkness to Light to combat sexual abuse. You can purchase past editions of the Rookie Scouting Portfolio for just $9.95 each. You can pre-order the 2019 RSP now through December 28 and get a 10 percent discount.

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