Kyler Murray passed another test in the lead-up to the NFL draft, acing his throwing session at Oklahoma’s Pro Day on Wednesday afternoon—not that the 32 NFL teams in attendance expected any differently.
Performing well when throwing routes on air is what’s expected from a future first-round QB, but evaluators in attendance said Murray impressed the audience at the school’s indoor fieldhouse with about 70 throws in which he displayed excellent ball placement to all levels of the field, and both left and right. Murray only missed on a handful of passes—usually high or wide—during the workout that was televised live on both NFL Network and ESPN.
Those in attendance included representatives from all 32 teams, including Bengals head coach Zac Taylor and Giants head coach Pat Shurmur. NFL Network cameras caught Murray’s mom, Missy, introducing herself to Shurmur during the workout, and Sooners coach Lincoln Riley at one point stood next to the Giants contingent—an observation that probably means nothing at all. Murray isn’t the Sooners’ only potential high draft pick that teams came to see. But the Heisman winner and top baseball draft pick will certainly continue to be the most-discussed prospect over the next six weeks leading up to the NFL draft.
Murray elected not to perform in the on-field workouts at the NFL combine, saying he would wait until his school’s pro day to participate in “everything.” Murray didn’t end up doing everything, opting to forego the 40-yard dash again; his speed is well apparent on the game film and is one of his strengths, so he didn’t really have anything to gain by running and could have risked an injury. Though it is fair to wonder if the weight Murray added before his combine weigh-in—he was 207 pounds in Indianapolis, after being listed at 193 in college—has affected his speed at all. Murray weighed in at 205 pounds at the pro day and was not measured for height, but according to people in attendance, none of the OU players who were also at the combine were re-measured for height on Wednesday.
As NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah noted during the live coverage, Murray’s throwing session was built around three, five and seven-step drops out of the pocket. Murray told the network his goal for the session was “being clean with my drops and being on time,” both of which he clearly demonstrated. While Murray’s mobility was an asset in college, and his ability to create plays, he did his majority of work inside the pocket and was trained to do so by his father, Kevin Murray, a quarterback tutor in the Dallas area.
During the 20-minute session, led by former NFL head coach Jim Zorn, Murray demonstrated an ability to throw different kinds of passes, some with air underneath them and others fastball darts. One of his best passes was a seam route off a playaction fake, which he launched some 50 yards in the air; he also showed a good ability to shuffle around and reset in the pocket on a handful of throws, a skill that’s important in the NFL, where clean pockets are rare.
An easy comparison for Murray is his Oklahoma predecessor, Baker Mayfield, though the two QBs have very different personalities. Murray is quieter and more reserved, but he looked very comfortable in his element at Oklahoma, grinning at a few points during his workout and as he hugged his college teammates afterward. He was also engaging in his post-workout interview with NFL Network, showing more of a presence than he had in his media interviews in Indianapolis. Murray mentioned that he’d texted Mayfield about the Browns trading for receiver Odell Beckham, Jr., the previous night and playfully noted that he was a bit jealous. When asked about Charley Casserly’s report on NFL Network that Murray was sub-par in his team interviews at the combine, with some teams questioning his leadership and study habits, Murray confidently said he and his teammates and coaches know who he is, and he’s moving on.
One notable absence from the pro day was Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury, whose well-known affinity for Murray has helped fuel chatter about whether the team will in fact draft Murray No. 1 overall. Nor was Raiders head coach Jon Gruden in attendance. But both teams, and others, will have the chance to bring Murray in for a private workout at their team headquarters. Pro day is just one step of the pre-draft process—but it’s one that Murray passed with high marks.
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