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  • Some are questioning Murray’s decision to not participate in any on-field throwing drills at the NFL combine. Here’s why it's perfectly fine for the Heisman Trophy winner to sit these drills out.
By Conor Orr
March 01, 2019

INDIANAPOLIS — Here’s a counterpoint to everyone accusing Kyler Murray of not loving football or competition because he opted out of any on-field drills at the NFL Scouting Combine: What did he have to gain?

I think colleague Jonathan Jones nailed the why in his wrap-up from the combine Thursday. This week was about the perception of height and weight, of winning some battle of semantics—and that battle is over (for those who missed it, Murray measured at 5' 10 1/8" and 207 pounds). His reasoning for not wanting to run or throw after packing on weight to check another box should have been that obvious to the rest of us. But if you’re a player—any player—who, for years, has been subject to the whims of general managers who will consider dumping you the second a better option comes along, or a head coach disconnected from the front office who will half-heartedly consider shoving you into a system that doesn’t suit your needs, or the machinations of a draft process built to tear someone down to the studs over the course of several grueling weeks, why wouldn’t you want to protect yourself?

How can Murray not be a “gamer” because he didn’t want to throw to receivers he’s never worked with before, or run plays he’s never executed before, in front of people who would obviously hold any mistakes he made in this haphazard forum against him? Why wouldn’t he want to take a week to script a set of throws and movements that accentuate how a team should use him at his pro day, kind of like what he’d be doing as a regular quarterback in the league anyway?

I understand the inevitable counter argument, which is that, for a “real quarterback,” circumstances shouldn’t matter. Coaches, fans and media will pound their chests and say they want the kind of guy who, if a game of football breaks out at their own wedding, they’ll drop everything else, use the frosting from the cake as eye black, tear off their sleeves and rifle a diving touchdown pass into the buffet line. (This image brings to mind a certain NFL commercial.)

But aren’t these the same people who say that the tape doesn’t lie, and cling to the movements they see on All-22 as some kind of unshakable modicum of truth? If your job consists of interpreting a player’s abilities in that context, what do a few throws, sans pads or helmet, actually do to change your mind? And if they did, what does that say about the draft process altogether?

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