A Deep Dive into Kyler Murray’s Skillset

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Kyler Murray is one of the most fascinating stories in recent NFL draft history. Murray has had a very untraditional path, playing football and baseball at Texas A&M as a freshman. He left A&M after the 2015 season, transferring to Oklahoma, but having to sit out the 2016 season. At Oklahoma, he played football and baseball, and after the 2017 season, he was drafted by the Oakland Athletics as the 9th overall pick in the MLB draft. Murray opted to stay at Oklahoma, wanting to play football as a starting quarterback. That decision netted him a Playoff berth, a Heisman trophy, and consideration as a first-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.

 Murray is an interesting spot where he could play in either the NFL or the MLB. On February 11th, Murray tweeted his decision to pursue a career in the NFL, and specifically to be an NFL quarterback. There is a reason why he’s being coveted by two different leagues. His talent is undeniable, and especially in this year’s weaker QB class, he’s put himself into a great position to earn a great payday in 2019. However, like any other prospect, Murray has question marks on the field, so let’s take a dive into what his 2018 season looked like on the field.

For my scouting reports, each position is graded on different traits on a scale of 1.0-8.0.

 

1.0-1.9=Detrimental

2.0-2.9=Marginal

3.0-3.9=Below Average

4.0-4.9=Solid

5.0-5.9=Above Average

6.0-6.9=Good

7.0-7.5=Very Good

7.5-8.0=Elite

 

Some are shared, such as size and athleticism/QAB (Quickness, Agility, and Balance), but most are position specific.

 

1. Size and Athleticism/QAB-4.9

This is tricky aspect to grade, since Murray’s size is well below what the NFL would consider adequate, but his ability to move in and out of the pocket and run with the football are very good. Murray’s size presents an issue throwing the ball, he’ll need clean lines of sight to throw more accurately down the field, as he won’t be able to see as far as taller QBs would need to. This requires more pocket movement, or bootlegs in order to get him away from the direct path of the offensive line. That being said, he’s very fluid, agile, and quick while being able to make people miss, elude tackles, and be a major threat running the football. It’s a mixed bag when it comes to Murray here, but ultimately, I don’t think it will be a major hindrance for him in the NFL.

2. Arm Strength-7.2

Kyler has got an arm, folks. Not only can he throw down the field, he has the capability to zip passes into tight windows when he wants to. His velocity on some passes is phenomenal, and his arm can hit all areas of the field. He has no problems hitting outside throws in terms of velocity, and can maintain that strength when going deep over the middle, or further downfield.

3. Upper body mechanics-5.5

Murray has above average upper body mechanics, a compact throwing motion, though not quick, and he holds the ball well in the pocket. He comes into trouble when he starts moving around in and out of the pocket, carrying the ball loosely and away from his body too often. Sometimes he struggles to keep his shoulders square to his target, leading to accuracy issues.

4. Footwork-3.6

Murray’s feet when throwing the football are too often an issue. There are times when he just doesn’t have his feet set properly and it can lead to less velocity on the throw, which would only be coming from his arm. When he’s under pressure, he too often throws off his back foot, and not trying to stand strong, take a hit, and deliver the pass with proper mechanics.

5. General Accuracy-5.9

Murray has above average general accuracy, meaning that he is able to throw to the area of the intended receiver where he can make the catch. He’s able to hit players at every area of the field with general accuracy, especially deep downfield. His main issue comes when his footwork isn’t right, and he often throws behind the intended receiver in short and intermediate passes, limiting yards after the catch. 

6. Spot Accuracy-4.1

Murray can hit specific spots with a throw when throwing towards the outside, especially on routes breaking back towards him. However, when going over the short and intermediate middle, he can throw behind, or just not in front of the receiver, which can lead to contested catches, or tackles with no YAC opportunities.

7. Reading Coverage/FBI-4.0

Murray’s ability to read coverages, and diagnose defenses is very raw and limited. While he is capable of going through his progressions, he struggles to do it consistently, especially when his first two reads are covered. He would prefer to scramble and try to create plays off schedule when he can, and try to create chaos for defenses.

8. Running Ability-7.4

Absolutely one of Kyler’s best assets. He can not only scramble around to buy time in and out of the pocket, but is a legitimate threat to run on any given down. His ability to run the option opens up a lot for the offense to use, especially in terms of play action, and teams would be very wise to use Kyler’s running ability to its fullest extent.

9. Off Schedule Plays-6.0

This is tricky when it comes to Murray because a lot of his off-schedule plays came as a result of him being able to run when the coverage was good, and being able to throw after his timing with the routes was disrupted in some way, and he had to buy time. If an NFL defense is able to key on his running ability, will he be able to hit the tight windows on the move? Murray shows hesitation to throw tight windows and wants to see receivers open before throwing. This all said, I believe his ability as a runner still allows him to be a threat off schedule.

10. Handling Pressure-4.2

Every QB struggles with pressure, but the ones who work the best against it tend to do the following: keep their eyes down field, move their feet in the pocket, step up against edge pressure, and take check downs when needed. Murray is inconsistent with all of this. At times, he’s able to keep himself poised in the pocket under pressure, and deliver strikes with his arm strength. Yet, there are too many times when he tries to scramble laterally against edge pressure, or his mechanics begin to fall apart when the pressure is in his face. Murray may never be a great pressure QB in the way that traditional offensive minds want him to be, which is why his ability as a scrambler, and runner as so important to the success of his career.

12. Tight Window throws-4.0

Kyler Murray’s ability to make tight window throws is difficult to evaluate. He prefers to throw to open receivers, rather to have his receivers make contested catches. He doesn’t lack for willingness to throw to covered receivers in rushed or pressure situations, but when he’s supposed to be making on schedule plays, he doesn’t challenge coverages.

13. Anticipation-3.2

Murray’s worst trait is a lack of anticipation with his throws. As I said before, he likes to see his receivers uncover, and then make the throw. It’s unfortunate because with his arm strength, Murray should be able to deliver anticipation and timing throws really well. This is a trait that could be developed, but as it stands right now, it is a glaring weakness in his game, and one that really shows his relative inexperience as a starting QB.

 

 

Overall, Kyler Murray grades out as a 4.7 QB, which is a solid player. This QB class as a whole just isn’t very exciting or good, and Kyler Murray is the biggest X-factor of the group. His split loyalties to football and baseball aren’t going to do him any favors with NFL teams, but it might not be enough to stop one team from drafting him in the top 15, if not the top 10. Murray certainly has an exciting athletic future in front of him.

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