According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the Oakland Athletics expect their 2018 first-round draft choice, Kyler Murray, to enter April’s NFL draft.
The A’s selected Murray with the No. 9 overall pick in last summer’s amateur draft, and Murray agreed to a deal with Oakland that would allow him to play football at Oklahoma during his junior season. After the end of the season, Murray was widely expected to leave school and join the A’s organization.
However, Murray went on to win the Heisman Trophy during his lone season as the Sooners’ starter, and his outstanding performance has reportedly put him onto the radar of some NFL teams.
Murray’s deal with the Athletics included a $4.66 million signing bonus. However, the 21-year-old wound up leading Oklahoma to a 12-2 record and an appearance in the College Football Playoff.
Despite the fact that he is generously listed at 5’10”, the A’s are now of the belief that Murray will renege on the deal and test the waters of the NFL.
ESPN draft analysts Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay have said that there is a chance Murray could be a first-round pick if he were to jump to the NFL. Another ESPN reporter, Chris Mortensen, said that Murray had been receiving “first-round feedback” regarding his draft prospects.
An NFL general manager reportedly told ESPN’s Adam Schefter, “I really believe he’s a first-round pick, a late first, I really do.”
Of course, if Murray were to decide to jump into the NFL draft that would not necessarily mean he has explicitly chosen to play football instead of baseball. The A’s would still retain his professional rights. However, if he were to play in the NFL instead, he would have to return his signing bonus to the A’s, and Oakland would receive an additional compensatory draft pick in the upcoming June draft.
The A’s have bee told that Murray will not return to Oklahoma, which was a sign that he was ready to join their organization. Murray is still expected to join the team at spring training in February, and the team’s original plan was to keep him in major league camp until the middle of March. The A’s are set to start their season in mid-March when they face the Seattle Mariners for a series in Japan.
If Murray sticks with baseball, he is widely expected to begin his baseball career with the A’s high-A affiliate in Stockton, California. When asked about whether Murray is reconsidering his original deal, his agent, Scott Boras, told ESPN that his client “has a baseball contract.” Boras has been insistent that Murray will not ultimately choose football over baseball.
The A’s would likely grant Murray permission to participate in the NFL draft combine, which is scheduled for February. That move would also require the approval of Major League Baseball.
An ultimate decision have to come from Murray some time within the next month. Spring training is slated for February 15, and chances are he would not be able to attend spring training while also preparing for the scouting combine.
Prior to winning the Heisman in December, Murray said, “I’d like to do both, if possible. But I don’t know how possible that is.”
The San Francisco Chronicle added that many believe Murray is now leaning toward playing football professionally.
The Arizona Cardinals are a team that may have interest in drafting Murray to play football. The Cardinals made headlines earlier this week when they made the shocking decision to hire former Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury as their head coach.
The Cardinals just drafted former UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen in last year’s draft, but ESPN’s Adam Schefter said on Thursday that it’s “not implausible” that the Cardinals could trade Rosen and take Murray in the first round. The Cardinals hold the No. 1 overall pick in the upcoming draft.
Trading Rosen after just one season sounds unlikely, but Kingsbury has gone on the record as an admirer of Murray’s in the past.
This past October, Kingsbury said during an interview, “Kyler is a freak. I would take him with the first pick of the draft if I could.”
The line of suitors would form to the left if the Cardinals put Rosen on the trade market. He was up-and-down during his rookie campaign under now-fired head coach Steve Wilks, but the 2019 draft class is thin at the QB position.
If a team in need of a quarterback is not sold on the 2019 crop of available passers, perhaps trading for a young prospect in Rosen would carry some appeal.
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