His baseball agent, who has a clear financial interest in Kyler Murray playing baseball, says that Kyler Murray already has decided to play baseball. Murray has said otherwise. Now, Murray needs to realize that, if he wants to play football, he needs to say so, sooner than later.
While some league sources believe that Murray could be taken in the first round of the 2019 draft thanks to his accuracy, velocity, and foot speed (despite his lack of size), it’s clear that, until it’s clear that Murray will fully embrace football, he won’t maximize his draft stock.
Thirty three years after the Bucs wasted the first overall pick in the draft on Bo Jackson, who’d made it clear he was choosing baseball, no one will want to throwaway a high-round pick on a wing and a prayer that Murray will decide that he has been drafted high enough to choose football. Teams will want the choice to be made before the draft, and they’ll want his actions (i.e., full and complete participation in the pre-draft process) to speak more loudly than his words.
The problem, given the recent comments from Scott Boras, is that teams may not trust Murray, if he now says that he wants to play football. And if what Murray really wants is to ride the fence for as long as possible, deferring a decision until he knows where and how high he’ll be drafted, Boras has complicated that significantly by pulling Murray toward baseball.
Murray can always try football later. But that won’t help anyone who drafts him in April. The rights last only until the next draft, at which time Murray would re-enter the pool. If he were drafted again, that team would hold his rights for another year, at which time Murray would become a free agent.
Generally speaking, it makes more sense to pick baseball over football (yeah, I said it), if all things are equal. Murray’s success this year, capped by the Heisman Trophy and a chance to win the national championship, could make Murray think that he has a better chance to become a star in football than in baseball. With the top of the quarterback market exceeding $30 million annually, Murray could become the exception to the “always choose baseball” rule, since he potentially could make more money playing quarterback than centerfield.
In theory, Murray could give baseball a couple of years to see whether his career blossoms in a way that would make football irrelevant. If it doesn’t, Murray could then try football, but he’d definitely be entering the NFL with far less fanfare and a far tougher path to a starting job than the one that comes with the investment of a first-round draft pick.
Still, it’s unclear whether he’d be a first-round pick. One source pointed out that research would be needed on his passes batted at the line of scrimmage. Another source said that teams haven’t spent time doing that and other research because Murray is apparently committed to baseball. Another source said Murray would definitely be a first-round pick, if he chooses football. Yet another said it’s way too early to assess Murray’s football draft stock, and that the first challenge will be to figure out whether the baseball talk is serious or leverage.
So if Murray truly wants to play football, he needs to say so. Until he does, he definitely won’t be drafted as high as he could be.