Don’t be surprised if you see an NFL team take a chance and draft Kyler Murray in the 2019 NFL Draft. Would an NFL team really draft a player who was a top-ten pick in the most recent MLB Draft and got a cool $4.66 million signing bonus? Why would a franchise use a draft pick on a player who may not be playing for them?
The entire NFL Draft is one big gamble
The entire process is a crap-shoot. Each pick is a lotto ticket; you’ve got a chance to hit on a franchise changing player. You could either get a complete bust, hit for a solid player, or you could hit the jackpot and win an All-Pro Hall or Hall of Famer.
NFL teams have been preparing for the 2019 NFL draft since the last pick was announced in 2018, if not sooner than that. Most, if not all, of them, are looking for the best player available in this draft not playing this sport right now. Like Antonio Gates or Jimmy Graham who were college basketball players. It’d be unconventional for an NFL team to draft Kyler Murray who will be playing in an MLB team’s minor league system. But unconventional thinking is what often leads to brilliance.
When/if a team does take Murray, he’d be under contract with the A’s. So he would need clearance to sign with an NFL team. Next, if a team drafted Kyler Murray and wanted to hang onto him in the hopes of a return to football, they’d have to sign him to a rookie contract. If Murray didn’t sign by the 2020 Draft, his rights would become draft-eligible once again.
Like Bo, Kyler Knows
Look at Kyler Murray’s lone season as the starting quarterback of the Sooners, and you’ve seen a TON of brilliance. He led Lincoln Riley’s Oklahoma offense, which ranked #1 overall in the nation. Murray showed he is arguably the most electrifying athlete in all of college football. He did all of this on the gridiron AFTER hitting .296 for the Sooners baseball team, adding 10 HR, 47 RBI, and ten stolen bases. He can hit, play solid defense, absolutely fly, and he’s got a cannon for an arm. He’s an ideal fit in center field while batting at the top of the order. Think Mookie Betts for the Boston Red Sox.
Kyler Murray Wouldn’t Be the First
This situation played out in 1986-87 with Auburn legend, running back Bo Jackson. Like Murray is now, Jackson was a top baseball prospect while also a top football prospect. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers held the first overall pick in the 1986 NFL Draft and wanted Jackson. But, Jackson told Tampa Bay he didn’t want to play for them, wouldn’t sign with them. Jackson believed they intentionally got him to break NCAA rules which made him ineligible to play football at Auburn. So, he said he would play pro baseball if they selected him. Tampa Bay still went ahead and gambled on Jackson changing his mind, only to see him do exactly what he said he would, which was not sign and play pro baseball. The Buccaneers had nothing to show for their first overall pick in 1986, and the Raiders ended up drafting Bo Jackson in the seventh round of the 1987 Draft.
Another similar gamble would occur about a decade and a half later with Drew Henson. In 2001, he left college before his senior season, to sign a 6-year $17 million contract with the New York Yankees. Henson was most likely going to be a first-round pick if he were in the 2002 Draft, with there even being serious talk of him being a potential number one overall pick. In 2003, the Houston Texans used a sixth-round pick on the former Michigan quarterback and current struggling New York Yankees third base prospect. The Texans later flipped Henson for a third-round pick in a deal the following year, sending Henson to the Dallas Cowboys, who were searching for Troy Aikman’s replacement still three years after his retirement. That gamble, unlike for the Bucs, paid off for the Texans.
On the flip side, there’s one gamble that followed the same model just in reverse order. That would be Jeff Samardzija, a current major league pitcher and former two-time All-American wide receiver for Notre Dame. He was on track to be a first or second-round pick in the 2007 NFL Draft. But before any team in the NFL had a shot at a selecting Samardzija, he pulled his name from the Draft after signing with the Cubs in January of 2007. Today, Jeff Samardzija is in his eleventh season in the major leagues and according to Spotrac, has made approximately $88.6 million.
The predicament Kyler Murray finds himself in is a difficult one. There are guaranteed contracts in baseball and less wear on the body. Would he give up baseball for a chance to be ‘the next Russell Wilson,’? Wilson still gets the best of both worlds. Every offseason he attends spring training for the team that owns his right. This year, after having his rights traded to the New York Yankees he even played in a few games.
Kyler Murray is electrifying on the football field, and he’s good enough at baseball for a team to bet almost $5 million on him. The Oakland A’s have said they drafted Murray and signed him to the contract they did with the understanding that he’d play one last season of college football before turning his attention to baseball full-time. In a recent piece by Julian Williams of The Athletic, Murray was, when asked about his future in baseball and football, quoted as saying his “future is already decided as of now” but that he “would love to play (both professionally) if that was possible.”
We Know What Kyler Wants, as of Now
Teams have four months or so to decide whether or not to spend a pick on Kyler Murray. Murray, if selected in the fourth round, he’d be looking at a four-year deal worth (approx) $3-4 million and about a $700k signing bonus. In comparison, his signing bonus in baseball would be close to seven times as much as it would be in football. That’s a lot less money for a lot more damage to your body. But an NFL team could strike gold in Murray, and the possibility of gold could be too much for a team to pass up. Murray’s immediate future seems to be on the baseball diamond. But that is, in the words of Kyler Murray himself, “as of now.”