A new report indicates that star Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray will opt for the NFL Draft despite signing a deal with an MLB team that included a multi-million dollar signing bonus. This contrasts a recent decision by a UNC recruit to choose professional baseball over collegiate football.
Murray was drafted in the first round of the 2018 MLB Draft by the Oakland A’s and signed a deal that included a $4.6 million signing bonus and allowed him to play one final season for Oklahoma on the football field.
But all Murray did in his final season was lead the Sooners to the College Football Playoff and win the Heisman trophy along the way.
Now a report by the San Francisco Chronicle states that Murray will enter his name into the NFL Draft.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Murray’s decision to enter the NFL Draft is this being the first instance of a highly drafted baseball player opting for football over baseball, widely thought to be the safer and more luxurious sport in the long term.
Various athletes have chosen football over baseball, such as Seattle’s Russell Wilson and Tampa Bay’s Jameis Winston, but none have been first round picks like Murray.
With the rise of research surrounding CTE and its connection to football, it is not a surprise to see younger athletes opting towards other sports. A pair of local high schools in Orange County did not field a varsity football team in 2018 due to a lack of participation.
Murray would also buck a trend of high MLB Draft picks choosing another sport over baseball.
UNC saw this recently with the recruitment of Jordyn Adams, a blue-chip recruit from Cary who signed a letter of intent with the Tar Heels but ultimately chose baseball after being drafted by the Los Angeles Angels.
Adams, who was picked 17th overall in the same draft as Murray, opted to sign with the Angels for $4.1 million.
Listed at 5’10” on Oklahoma’s official roster, Murray does not have the measurable of a prototypical NFL quarterback and comes from an air-raid offense but recent trends in the NFL suggest that this may not matter as much as it would have a few years ago.
Baker Mayfield, Murray’s teammate at Oklahoma and fellow Heisman trophy winner, was selected with the first overall pick by the Cleveland Browns last season and came from the same offense that Murray ran this season. Murray’s passer efficiency rating this season was actually better than Mayfield’s in 2017 (199.2 compared to 189.9).
Shorter quarterbacks are also not uncommon in the NFL nowadays. Just look at two of the quarterbacks for playoff teams this season: Seattle’s Wilson (5’11”) and New Orleans’ Drew Brees (6’0″).
Should Murray choose football over baseball, as all reports indicate he will do, he will have to return the $4.6 million signing bonus. However, NFL Draft experts from various platforms have noted that Murray has a strong chance of being a first round draft pick by the NFL in this April’s draft.