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Lincoln Riley Defends Kyler Murray Against Criticism, Says QB Was a 'Tremendous Leader'

Former NFL general manager Charley Casserly said Murray fared poorly during interviews at the NFL combine.

Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley isn't pleased with former NFL general manager Charley Casserly's post-combine comments about Kyler Murray's interviews.

Casserly, a former executive with the Washington Redskins and Houston Texans who now works with NFL Network, said on Tuesday that Murray struggled with team interviews at the combine, emphasizing that the responses he received from team sources were the "worst comments I ever got on a high-rated quarterback."

“Leadership—not good,” Casserly said. “Study habits—not good. The board work—below not good. Not good at all in any of those areas and raising major concerns about what this guy’s going to do.”

Riley pushed back on the criticism, taking exception to the notion that Murray was not a good leader.

“What I don’t like about that is you’ve got a guy on TV doing this reporting—and I know Charley Casserly’s had a decorated career in the NFL and has done a lot of tremendous things,” Riley said. “To me, it always seems strange — you go on the deal and say your sources, No. 1, and then you’re going to go on and talk like you’re an expert on somebody that you’ve never met. You’ve never talked to his position coach or head coach at any level about him, and you’ve never talked to any players who’ve played with the guy about how he leads. Now we’re going to be an expert on how he leads.”

Riley said the fact that Murray has been a winner at every level speaks for itself. Murray starred in both football and baseball during his time in Oklahoma.

He led the Sooners to a 12–1 record and a College Football Playoff berth after throwing for 4,053 yards and 40 touchdowns, in addition to 892 rushing yards and 11 scores. Murray became the second straight Oklahoma quarterback to win the Heisman after Baker Mayfield won the award in 2017. 

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He was also the No. 9 overall pick in the 2018 Major League Baseball draft.

Riley added that he had talked with the "majority" of teams that had met with Murray in the pre-draft process, all of which had different opinions than those shared by Casserly.

“I know Kyler met with a lot of different teams at the combine and I’ve personally spoken with the majority of the teams that he met with and every one of them were glowing in their reports about Kyler,” Riley said.

Riley wasn't the only one unhappy with Casserly's assessment. Murray's agent, Erik Burkhardt, added his voice to the defense of Murray.

"First and foremost, Kyler is an exemplary person,” Burkhardt said. “He is everything you hope your own son grows up to become. We’re talking about a young man who has done everything right and worked relentlessly his entire life to achieve and push for greatness. We’re talking about the first human ever drafted in the top 10 in two major sports leagues, and who just completed the greatest single season in football history. You will not find even one former teammate or coach at any level in any sport who’s played with Kyler Murray who has anything remotely negative to say about him, his leadership, or his work ethic.

"So what do I think about an agenda-driven ‘analyst’ who’s never once even talked to Kyler or any of his coaches or teammates?” Burkhardt pressed on. “I think it’s disgusting and embarrassing and Casserly should be ashamed of himself."

Murray is expected to go No. 1 overall in several analysts' mock drafts. The NFL draft begins on April 25.