Underclassmen have until Monday, January 14th to declare for the 2019 NFL Draft, and we might get one big name to wrap it up. Oklahoma quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray is expected to declare for the draft, and is projected as a potential first round pick.
This is a big deal because he is currently under contract as the first round pick of the Oakland Athletics. They selected him in the 2018 MLB draft and eventually agreed to a deal that paid him a $4.66 million signing bonus. If Murray decided to play football instead of baseball, he would have to repay the signing bonus.
His agent, Scott Boras, said in December that Murray had every intention of sticking with baseball. However, Wednesday morning, NFL Draft analyst Matt Miller reported that he was being told Murray was leaning towards the NFL. Wednesday afternoon, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that the A’s expect Murray to declare for the draft by the end of this weekend.
The situation might still not be fully resolved until February or March, or even beyond that. The A’s report to spring training on February 15th, and the 2019 NFL Combine gets started on February 26th — with quarterbacks likely required to report by February 27th. Technically Murray does not have to go to the Combine, but usually the top prospects show up for at least the medical portion. And whether or not he goes to the Combine, he would be expected to hold a private workout and/or hold meetings with teams interested in him in March and into April. If he declares for the draft, it would seem like he is firmly prepared to move out of baseball and into football.
The question then becomes what this means for the draft, and in reality, there are a lot of questions to be answered. Right now, Dwayne Haskins is viewed as the top prospect, but Murray’s big finish and Heisman Trophy win could vault him up the draft board for a lot of teams.
Where it gets even more interesting is with the Arizona Cardinals. They hold the No. 1 pick in the draft and invested a first round pick in Josh Rosen last season. However, new Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury is on record back in October while still at Texas Tech saying he loves everything about Murray and, “I’d take him with the first pick in the draft if I could.”
He’s now on the team with the first pick, but does not have full personnel control. That being said, Adam Schefter threw out some speculation that it would not be out of the realm of the possible for the Cardinals to draft Murray and deal Rosen. It did not come across as a hard report on his part, but more just that it could be possible.
This is a fascinating story to track. Murray could make more money quickly in football, but could make a lot more money long term if he has an even decent MLB career. Add in fewer significant brain injuries and other long term health issues, and it feels like MLB would be the wiser course of action. That being said, his love of football has been widely reported. As an A’s fan I’d prefer he stay with baseball, but what are you gonna do? It’s going to make for a crazy next three months if he decides to enter the draft.