After much speculation surrounding Oakland A’s prospect Kyler Murray, the electric dual-sport athlete announced Monday he will enter the 2019 NFL Draft. Oakland selected Murray with the No. 9 overall pick in the 2018 MLB Draft as a center fielder. Unfortunately for the A’s, Murray went on to win the Heisman Trophy after an impressive season with the Oklahoma Sooners. Though entering the NFL Draft does not guarantee Murray is choosing a career in football, the allure of changing sports is very real and worrisome for MLB.
I have declared for the NFL Draft.
— Kyler Murray (@TheKylerMurray) January 14, 2019
Kyler Murray NFL Draft
Murray appeared in limited action with Texas A&M in 2015 and while backing up Baker Mayfield in 2017. But it is his one year as a starter that has dramatically increased his projection for this year’s NFL Draft.
Murray appeared in all 14 games for Oklahoma in 2018, completing 69% of his passes for 4,361 yards and 42 TDs. He also threw just seven interceptions on the year. His arm strength is a big draw, but his mobility is a high selling point. Murray rushed for 1,001 yards and 12 TDs this season, consistently running away from the defense in the open field.
The biggest knock on Murray will undoubtedly be his height at 5-foot-9. However, football is consistently changing with more dynamic schemes utilized across the league. If an NFL team is seriously interested in Murray, an offensive gameplan would need to be tailored specifically to Murray’s strengths. But doing so seems possible as there is no denying he is an elite athlete.
In an interesting turn of events, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported Sunday that Oakland was given the green light to offer Murray an MLB deal. Teams are not allowed to sign players to an MLB-deal out of the draft, but Murray’s football interest has changed circumstances for the A’s:
“In Murray’s case, because he signed a minor league deal, and because his performance at Oklahoma changed the circumstances of his baseball career, Oakland would be within the rules to give Murray a long-term extension if that’s what it takes to keep him in baseball, sources tell ESPN.”
Time will tell if Oakland is indeed serious about keeping in Murray in baseball. Regardless of the outcome, Passan’s report shows the value that MLB would likely place on keeping Murray in baseball. The sport continually needs dynamic stars, and Murray certainly fits the bill.
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