The MMQB has asked three quarterbacking experts—long-time front-office exec and scout Joey Clinkscales, long-time coach and coordinator Todd Haley, and long-time NFL quarterback Bruce Gradkowski—to assess the top QB prospects of the 2019 draft. The QB Panel Film Room series begins with Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray…
FRONT OFFICE: Joey Clinkscales
Former Director of Player Personnel, Oakland Raiders; Vice President of College Scouting, New York Jets
Strengths: Arm talent, accuracy, ball placement, pocket awareness, mobility, play speed, coverage awareness. Kyler is a player that checks off a lot of boxes as a quarterback. His overall skill set and natural ability would already put him in the top quarter of quarterbacks potentially. Reaching that potential is another story altogether. He is a player that certainly has starter traits and skill set given his athleticism, arm talents and poise under pressure. He shows the ability to understand pre-snap reads and knows where he wants to go with the ball quickly because of coverage recognition. His overall ball placement and intermediate accuracy allow receivers to run after can and protect themselves from contact. He has a good feel for back-shoulder balls. While he is undersized and in-season weight was less that 200 lbs., he is almost always in shotgun and he creates throwing lanes with feel and slight movements in the pocket so batted balls really isn’t an issue.
Weaknesses: Size (height-weight), not often under center, can look/feel small in pocket when pocket is compressed. Rarely seen in “21” personnel offense.
Unknown: Leadership ability. Getting in the huddle and leading/commanding 25- to 35-year-old men is a little different than in college.
Player comp: I see him as a mix between Russell Wilson and Michael Vick. A lot could be said about his size but he does not have an inordinate amount of balls batted down. It’s usually when the ball has to come out really quickly at the line of scrimmage that may happen. He throws with really good touch on the ball, similar to Russell Wilson, but has the arm strength to throw it 60-65 yards in flight. He has the athletic explosiveness of a Mike Vick but more talented as a passer while not having the same fastball that Vick always threw.
Ideal landing spot: Best potential landing spots right now are Arizona, Miami, Cincinnati, Carolina. In Carolina he would be a backup for a year or so but the other destinations he would have a chance to start immediately. Oakland is not on that list because the head coach is more patient with veteran QBs.
Potential to become a franchise QB: This player is a one-year starter which is normally a concern although he did have playing time early at Texas A&M. He was so proficient as a player this year it is hard to say his overall skill set and ability won’t transfer with some success to the NFL. I do think he will start for any team that plays in the spread-type offense and he can make all the throws—no limitations with his arm. I don’t quite see him as a franchise-type player, I think the cast of talent he is surrounded with will also play a key role in his success, especially early.
COACH: Todd Haley
Former Head Coach, Kansas City Chiefs; Offensive Coordinator, Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers, Arizona Cardinals
He is a very good athlete but he is still not real big and he could take a pounding at the next level—you wonder if size will be legitimate concern going forward.
Player Comp: Russell Wilson.
Ideal landing spot: A spread offense gives him best chance at success early.
Can he be a starter in 2019?: Without seeing him work out or talking to him in person—just guessing—if you cater the offense to his strengths, spread things out, get him outside the pocket, he obviously can make plays. An advantage he has is the ability to escape and make plays with his feet as he figures things out.
Potential to become a franchise QB: He obviously has done some pretty special things in both college football and baseball. He has something that can’t be measured to achieve what he has in such a short time. He's similar to Baker [Mayfield] in some ways, from “ability to overcome” standpoint. Not many have done it at that size, so there will be questions until you see it first-hand. I got to watch Baker work out in person and spent a lot of time with him. You knew he had the “it” factor.
QUARTERBACK: Bruce Gradkowski
Former Quarterback, Pittsburgh Steelers, Cincinnati Bengals, Oakland Raiders, Cleveland Browns, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Strengths: Natural thrower, poised, elusive. These are just a few qualities that describe Kyler Murray. Having the opportunity to break down his film was like being a kid in a candy store. This guy can truly do it all. He has a good base and a very natural throwing motion. The ball flies out of his hand. Along with the smooth delivery comes accuracy. He can make every throw. Fitting the ball into tight windows is not a problem. Having to put some touch on a throw to deliver it accurately over a linebacker is effortless. He does a very good job with his timing and rhythm from the pocket. He executes the offense extremely efficiently and wants to live in the pocket, but makes explosive plays with his legs when the situation calls for it. His ability to burst away from defenders is fun to watch and his accuracy while throwing on the run is phenomenal. He has dynamic playmaking ability from the pocket and outside the pocket. He does an excellent job using his eyes to manipulate the defense. Murray is a smooth, fluid thrower and is consistent with the same delivery. He has the arm talent to change his angle to maneuver it around defenders.
Weaknesses: I have a few concerns with Murray, but not many. With his size, in general, we have to look at his durability. Can he take the hits week in and week out during a long NFL season? In college, the pocket doesn’t collapse as fast as it does in the NFL. In college, there is possibly one rusher you have to sidestep to avoid a sack or make a throw. In the NFL, the pocket collapses a lot faster and it shrinks down. Being a smaller quarterback, the throwing lanes and windows could be harder to find. With the right coach and system, they can help avoid some of this by moving the pocket and creating more ways to throw with more space. He has good rhythm and timing but he needs to continue to improve his footwork under center. It would be helpful to Kyler to explode back from underneath center to gain space between himself and the offensive line. Similar examples would be Drew Brees or Russell Wilson as they gain adequate depth on their drops. When Murray gets put under pressure, he has to use his natural feel of the game to avoid the pressure while keeping his eyes downfield on his receivers. A few times I noticed he looks at the rush to try and get out of harm’s way.
Player comp: I would compare Kyler Murray to having the athleticism of Michael Vick with the poise of Russell Wilson.
Ideal landing spot: It’s not often it works out this way, but an ideal landing spot for Murray would be with the Arizona Cardinals with the No. 1 overall pick. Kliff Kingsbury originates from the college game and would know how to utilize his abilities. There are veteran leaders on the team such as Larry Fitzgerald and Terrell Suggs. This could help take pressure off Murray to not have to be the vocal leader right away.
Can he be a starter in 2019?: I believe Murray is a starting quarterback in 2019. He has the accuracy and arm strength to make every throw. Couple that with his athletic ability he can create plays as he continues to gain experience in the offense. A lot of rookie quarterbacks have a learning curve with the NFL system. With Murray’s athleticism, he will be a threat to defenses and a nightmare to game plan against as a defensive coordinator.
Potential to become a franchise QB: The longevity of Kyler Murray being a starting quarterback is something we have to worry about. Can he sustain the grueling hits most quarterbacks face? He absolutely has the talent and skill set on all fronts to be a franchise quarterback. He did a great job of using his athleticism to avoid big hits at the college level. If he can continue to do that he will have a long career.
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