When considering the draft fate of a potential baseball player, the case of a former basketball player deserves consideration.
In 1994, Heisman Trophy winner and national championship quarterback Charlie Ward was available for the NFL draft, two months before the NBA draft. Ward had said that he could make no promises about signing an NFL contract, if he wasn’t drafted in round one.
Earlier this week on PFT Live, Hall of Fame head coach Tony Dungy (a former Vikings defensive coordinator) said that the late Dennis Green had considered using a first-round pick on Ward, but ultimately decided not to risk Ward not agreeing to terms.
After Ward went undrafted, Green offered Ward a contract.
“Whether or not he accepts it, that’s up to Charlie Ward,” Green said at the time. “A free agent contract is not very lucrative, but what it gives you is opportunity. If he’s interested in the opportunity to play in the National Football League, then he’d have that chance. If not, then he’d move on and we would also.”
The Knicks made Ward the 26th pick in the NBA draft, and he played basketball from 1994 through 2005.
For Murray, the challenge (if he wants to play football) will be to persuade the team that considers drafting him that he will indeed show up and sign a contract. Although many first-round picks end up being busts, that’s largely unavoidable. Wasting a first-round pick on a guy who never plays football is avoidable, and it’s the kind of unforced error that can get the guy who wastes the pick fired.