Perhaps the most controversial prospect in the 2019 NFL Draft class, Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray enters as one of the most talented players at his position in what is a relatively weak quarterback group.
That isn’t an indictment of his talent, but rather, it’s safe to assume in previous classes with more talent that his “red flags” (and I hate that term, because his listed size of 5-10, 195 lbs isn’t truly a “red flag” – but for lack of a better word) would be picked apart and he’d likely fall down boards a bit. But without a ton of competition in this class, Murray’s stock, despite his size and his questionable pre-draft interviews about his commitment to football, is rising – quickly.
That brings us to the sixth LockedOnJaguars.com QB scouting report this year. Let’s dive in on Kyler Murray.
The fact of the matter – despite any “red flag” planted on Kyler Murray’s draft résumé – is that the Oklahoma product has a hell of an arm, especially for someone of his stature.
So let’s kill any “Murray is a run-first” quarterback talk pronto. Thankfully, that isn’t too much of a discussion from what I’ve read compared to Lamar Jackson last year, but highly-athletic quarterbacks with rushing stat lines like Murray’s – 140 carries for 1001 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2018 – typically get hit with that label from folks who don’t study tape.
With the defensive end off of Murray’s right side going untouched to create pressure on play-action, Murray evades after first getting his eyes downfield. He keeps them on the developing post route despite a clear rushing lane that, with his athleticism and ability to make one-on-one defenders miss, Murray could have utilized to potentially gain a first down. Then, Murray makes a 55 air-yard throw off of his backfoot – without ever setting his base – leading his receiver on the post in double coverage for a huge touchdown. Beautiful ball placement, with perfect touch and velocity to get the pass where it needed to be for a score – rather than taking an easy scramble.
On a designed roll-out, Murray finds a field opening near the boundary for his deep receiver on a two-route read with an underneath receiver being covered well out of his break on the short out-route. He quickly resets his feet and launches this pass to the boundary outside of the route, and the ball is placed where only the receiver can make the grab before going out of bounds. The ball placement is absolutely unreal.
The confidence level to squeeze this ball between a man coverage defender and a closing safety over the top up the seam is extremely high, and Murray makes it look easy. He couldn’t have thrown this any better.
Murray scans the field right to left to let the deep post develop and maintains active feet in his pocket off of play-action. He remains calm with eyes down the field despite pressure coming off of both edges and drops a dime to the middle of the field without total balance. The pass goes just off of the finger tips of his receiver – I believe this is caught at thee next level with better timing from a more matured receiver, but if Murray’s feet totally set then this is probably completed in stride. Regardless, it’s a really nice throw with true pocket poise.
Murray truly puts this pass where his receiver and only his receiver can play it. From the left-side hash, Murray lets it rip at the top of his dropback with a fantastic combination of velocity and loft to continue leading his receiver to the boundary outside and away from the defender in man coverage. The typical eye will say the receiver adjusting to the ball outside means the placement was off but I thoroughly disagree, Murray put this ball right where he wanted it. And considering the distance he had to cover from the hash all the way to the opposite boundary, and the little field-room he had to work with to ensure only the WR could play this? Murray’s arm is something special, man.
Murray slides right on play-action and quickly finds the seam target, sets his feet, and makes this toss back to the side he slid from. He’s not a one-way guy when it comes to his arm talent and mobility – Murray is a truly dynamic player who can utilize both skills to make plays happen simultaneously.
Eye and timing maturity
Oklahoma’s offensive scheme isn’t overly complex, and quite often receivers get schemed open. That isn’t necessarily an issue for scouting OU quarterbacks, but it’s always something to think about when judging their game mentally. While Murray wasn’t tasked with making many full field reads, and frankly not much more than half-field and one read+checkdowns, his eye maturity to manipulate defenders gives us a solid idea of his football IQ. When noting this, a stroke of confidence in his ability to make mature reads at the next level arises.
Murray gets two deep routes to the right side here, with the left side getting shutdown pre-snap with two defenders over one receiver. When the slot defender moves inside at the snap for the linebacker to drop on the slot receiver, Murray knows he has a winning matchup – but he waits to throw this seam until he truly looks off the deep safety to the outside 9-route. The safety bites a bit but stays just patient enough to come back and make a play, so Murray gives him one more shake to the outside and the rep is over – the safety dedicates his hips to the sideline, the slot-seam is wide open – touchdown Sooners.
Murray understands the timing of the route combo in the middle of the field with the H-back running a go-route to draw the middle safety off of the in-route by Marquise “Hollywood” Brown. As soon as the safety turns on the go-route, which Murray looks off with eyes dedicated to the middle of the field, he hits Brown in a window he created with great timing and understanding of the route concept.
Once again, Murray stares the deep safety off towards the boundary comeback and does not begin this throw until the dedication to the sideline is there. The second that that happens, Murray’s quick and compact release paired with his fantastic accuracy and velocity do the rest of the work. This level of patience and maturity out of a one-year starting quarterback, especially in an offense like Oklahoma’s, is what makes Murray a special talent and gives a lot of hope to a team that wants to draft and develop him.
Electric quarterbacks like Kyler Murray, more often than not, are risk-takers. While the good quarterbacks of that bunch often get rewarded for those risks, there’s plenty that pay consequences as well. Murray falls into the former category – while he’s an electric quarterback who now and then will take risks that normally pay off, he’s never reckless. He doesn’t try to make throws that he can’t make, and he’s smart with his body when utilizing his feet – which is a huge plus on film when grading out a guy of his stature.
Now, Oklahoma’s scheme didn’t offer Murray many checkdown looks in their fast-paced offense, as so many route concepts went to one side of the field, but when the opportunity to check down was to the concept-side, Murray took it when necessary. Murray keeps his eyes to the middle of the field as the the left outside receiver and right slot receiver run a deep crossing combo and the right boundary receiver runs a post. Murray wants to strike whichever deep route to the middle of the field opens, but pressure gets to him and he rolls right and finds his H-back check down in the flats. You don’t see this often in the OU offense as so many routes get schemed open, but against top defenses like Alabama’s, the awareness of the checkdown vs. pressure is reassuring.
Murray runs with elite speed for a quarterback and I expect him to place in the high-percentiles among NFL quarterbacks in the 40 yard dash at the NFL Combine. However, rather than getting risky with that speed in the middle of the field and to make defenders miss, Murray plays smart when he tucks and runs, typically navigating towards the sideline in order to have an escape from any oncoming defenders and to protect himself. He won’t take unnecessary hits, and while he’s quick to take advantage of rushing lanes, he understands his frame is miniscule compared to that of the average defender bee-lining their way towards him, and he plays smart.
Flashes of pocket poise, but not enough proof
While there are certainly examples of Murray playing with poise under pressure, including some reps against Alabama, his freedom to bail from the pocket after scanning his half-field reads due to lack of schematic complexity makes consistent pocket poise for traditional offense hard to judge in his game. There are certainly flashes of it when he had time to look off defenders, but not a ton of proof going across the full-field with pressure.
This is where NFL teams will be cautious. He’s proven that he will look to throw the ball before he runs in Oklahoma’s offense largely due to the lack of full-field progressions it calls for, thus shortening the time of his scan signifixantly. But if teams want to pigeon-hole him into their offense rather than adapt to a half-field read offense similar to OU’s, there’s room for concern based on the unknown. It’s a risk that teams will have to be willing to take when they consider drafting Murray.
What I’m sure you’ve been waiting on: Will Kyler Murray’s size affect him negatively at the next level?
I think it could go both ways, and once again, it depends on where Murray lands. If a team wants him to plug him into a West Coast style of offense that relies on the short middle of the field far more than taking shots and lettimg the QB move, Murray’s height really could lead to the generic “he can’t see over the linemen” stereotype being proven true. I hate that idea because there’s ways to avoid that, but if a team requires true pocket structure to operate their offense with strict 3-5 step drops and a quick release at the top of the drop, Murray simply isn’t their guy.
It didn’t show up much on tape because OU’s offense was far from what’s described above, but there were examples that gave me pause about Murray’s WCO fit at the next level. Typically, in a WCO, you want to lead your slant/crossers through the middle of the field to create yards after the catch. But when you’re 5-10 and struggling to create loft to put this ball more in the middle of the field, much less throwing over towering, lengthy defensive linemen on the top of your drop to that area of the field at the NFL level, you’ll struggle to hit those routes in stride. Murray throws this ball high and behind the receiver here without a true middle-of-the-field threat to throw away from. This needs to be thrown in stride.
In the Big 12, where Murray played, defense just isn’t played at the same level as divisions such as the SEC, or anything close to the size, speed, and toughness as the NFL. So sure, Murray’s five batted passes in 2018 is a great stat and goes to show his size didn’t hurt him as a passer much at all in college. But if he’s forced into a strictly structured throwing offense in the NFL, that number really will increase. He locks onto his slant in the clip below, and lengthy defensive end Anfernee Jennings from Alabama easily knocks the ball away.
Again, I really hate size stereotypes. If you can play, then in my book you can play. The stereotypes come from the generic, square-peg-in-round-hole mentality that has surrounded the NFL and NFL roster building for years. With recent evolution to the NFL passing offense, those stereotypes are finally starting to fade, but the team that selects Murray must be with, or get with, the times. They can’t try to mold him into their West Coast offense. He will thrive in a modern, spread out system that allows him to play with his mobility and to take shots down field and give him time to look off defenders, a skill he’s truly polished at. If he gets pigeonholed into, for lack of a better example, the style of offense the Jaguars ran for the past two seasons, I’m afraid Murray’s talent will go to waste.
Pros and Cons
- Combination of arm strength and accuracy to all levels of the field is the best in this class
- Velocity across the field is a plus
- Excellent mobility, utilized to pass and to run
- Disciplined thrower, calculates risks
- Smart with body on run, prioritizes sideline and sliding when necessary
- Eye maturity and patience to manipulate deep defenders
- Throw timing in sync with route combos and what he sees post-snap
- Slight frame, listed at 5-10, 195 lbs. 5-10, 205 lbs with 9.5″ hands would be a win at the Combine
- Oklahoma offense lack complexity, lack of full-field progressions
- Lack of complexity leads to less structure, NFL pocket poise projection is unknown
- Height vs. NFL defensive line with make WCO short-MOF throws difficult to anticipate
- Wouldn’t commit to football over baseball until last week – should be a red flag to teams about dedication
Kyler Murray is far and away the most exciting, polarizing quarterback in the 2019 NFL Draft class, and has a really bright future ahead of him in the NFL if he lands with a team that is willing to shape their offense completely around him. From understanding his size limitations and avoiding concepts that would infringe upon that, to utilizing his mobility to spread the field out and developing his pocket presence and full-field awareness slowly over time, Murray will require a ton of dedication from his landing spot in order to maximize his utmost potential.
The question is: Is Jacksonville that team? That question will be answered on draft night. If the offense they’ve run most recently is any indicator, then no, the Jaguars are not the right team for Kyler Murray. Their most recent offense revolves around West Coast concepts and true pocket structure, and Dwayne Haskins and his floor as a pocket passer fit that mold so much more than Murray.
However, if Jacksonville is ready to can their run-first-and-control-the-clock-through-a-West-Coast-passing-offense, and rather get innovative under new offensive coordinator John DeFilippo, then Murray makes a lot of sense. They’d have to shift to a more pass-happy, zone blocking offense where pass concepts are simplified and spread out across the field, and that would require totally new techniques and concepts at each and every position along the offense. It would point towards an offensive rebuild, quite frankly, but one that could pay huge dividends over time.
I just don’t believe the Jaguars are willing to sacrifice the talent they have on defense and the bit of potential they have in their starting offensive line unit (when healthy), as well as where receivers Dede Westrbook and D.J. Chark are in their development – and of course, take the L on their 4th overall pick of an investment in running back Leonard Fournette – in order to rebuild the offense around Kyler Murray. Especially when Dwayne Haskins fits exactly what they want to do.
But if the Jaguars do choose to follow the Kyler Murray route, then Jacksonville will be in for some really, really fun offense down the line. Just, not immediately.
Check out all of the Locked On Jaguars 2019 NFL Draft scouting profiles:
Jaguars wide receiver Marqise Lee officially taken off PUP list
The Jacksonville Jaguars have officially taken wide receiver Marqise Lee off of the physically unable to perform (PUP) list today. Head coach Doug Marrone announced the development at his pre-practice press conference today. Marrone says Lee will be practicing today.
— #DUUUVAL (@Jaguars) August 17, 2019
Lee has not practiced or played since his preseason knee injury almost a year ago today. With this progression, the Jaguars will go into the season — at least for now — with their top receivers active and relatively healthy. If Lee is able to make any sort of contribution during the start of the season it will be a major success for the Jaguars.
Currently, the Jaguars have relied on newcomer Chris Conley along with veterans Dede Westbrook, and D.J. Chark along with other newcomers to make up for Lee’s absence. It is not yet known how this will affect the Jaguars roster come the cut-down day.
The Jaguars have not announced a corresponding move as of right now. The roster stands at 91 until they do so.
REPORT: Jaguars sign RB Elijah Hood, release QB Tanner Lee
Earlier today the Jacksonville Jaguars announced the signing of running back Elijah Hood. As a corresponding move, the Jaguars have released quarterback Tanner Lee.
— #DUUUVAL (@Jaguars) August 17, 2019
Hood, 5’11” 230 pounds, was originally drafted in the seventh round by the Oakland Raiders. After bouncing around on the Raiders practice squad for the year, he was eventually waived following the 2017 season.
Hood most recently played the Carolina Panthers, however, his time with the Panthers was cut short in 2018 due to a torn ACL. He will get an opportunity to prove himself with the Jaguars and potentially live up to his collegiate career where he accumulated 2,580 yards and 29 touchdowns while at UNC.
With the injury to running back Alfred Blue (ankle) this past Thursday along with other running backs on the roster, the Jaguars needed to add depth at the position. Hood will get every opportunity to make the team, but his chances are rather slim.
Lee, a 2018 6th-round pick by the Jaguars was finally released as a corresponding move to signing Hood. Releasing Lee will not come to much of a shock for Jaguars fans. Lee has struggled throughout the offseason and in the preseason during both of his seasons with the Jaguars. This leaves backup quarterbacks Gardner Minshew and Alex McGough to battle it out in the Jaguars last two preseason games — although it looks like Minshew has the upper hand as of right now.
Jaguars defensive end Datone Jones has inside track on backup job
Earlier this offseason, the Jacksonville Jaguars opted to sign seven-year veteran Datone Jones as a means to create more competition and depth behind defensive end Calais Campbell. At the time, this was seen as more of a roster-filler type move, essentially to make sure the Jaguars have enough bodies during training camp. However, the situation has completely changed due to the way Jones has played during the offseason and into training camp.
Jones, 6’4″ 285 pounds, was originally drafted 26th overall in the 2013 NFL draft by the Green Bay Packers. Coming out of UCLA he was expected to make a major impact along the defensive line after accumulating a respectable 62 tackles, 16 tackles for loss, and 6.5 sacks during his senior season. Since being drafted, Jones has bounced around the NFL playing for the Minnesota Vikings, Detroit Lions, San Francisco 49ers and, most recently, the Dallas Cowboys.
Jones was not able to make as much of an impact on the Packers’ 3-4 defensive front after bouncing around from the defensive line to — surprisingly — linebacker.
For a short time, Jones signed with the Minnesota Vikings shortly after his contract with the Packers ended and expressed the concern of a position switch during an interview with the Vikings update stating, “They didn’t tell me. I found out on NFL Network that they had moved me to outside linebacker, I kind of knew that I would have to make the adjustment or I wasn’t going to be there anymore. I wanted to come into a place where I felt most natural, where I could really showcase my ability, what I could really do.”
Having to make such a drastic change in his career path after being mildly successful — 73 tackles and nine sacks with the Packers — at another position impacted Jones. While Jones did accumulate the most pressures for the Packers during the 2016 season while playing outside linebacker, it still was not the appropriate position for him to play given his natural ability.
Now with the Jaguars, Jones is back along the defensive line and is thriving. With the backup strong-side defensive end position for the Jaguars being completely wide open, Jones has taken the opportunity afforded to him and could be apart of the first group of players coming onto the field for the normal starters.
The Jaguars have tried for a couple of years now to find a good backup behind Campbell. They drafted defensive tackle/end Taven Bryan in the first round just a year ago, however, he has switched to more of a fulltime role on the interior of the defense. Mostly a disappointment his first two seasons, defensive end Dawuane Smoot has also taken a backseat with the arrival of Jones, giving Jones the inside track to win the primary backup job.
Jones has taken that opportunity and has thrived. Able to come off the ball with speed and power, he has the ability to adequately stop the run along with getting to the quarterback. During the game on Thursday, Jones completely took over the Eagles offensive line. One play in particular from Thursday’s game stands out.
Jones lines up on the defensive edge and is unblocked, getting to the quarterback and knocking him (Cody Kessler) out of the game. These are the type of plays which illustrate why he has earned a spot on the Jaguars 53-man roster.
— Datone Jones AKA TONE_LOCC (@IAM_Dat_One) August 16, 2019
A rotation from normal starters Yannick Ngakoue, Marcell Dareus, Abry Jones, and Campbell to Josh Allen, Bryan, Eli Ankou, and Jones illustrates just how deep the Jaguars are along the defensive line.
This past week head coach Jaguars Doug Marrone was asked about the importance of the defensive end spot behind Campbell.
“I feel good about where we are with our D-Line, I do. In other words, I feel like we have good starters, and I feel like we have good depth. I think we have a lot of players there, guys that will probably be, if you look at the roster, I think that can potentially be the toughest. Who is nine, who is 10 if we keep 10, wherever that goes,” Marrone stated.
“Yan obviously looks great out there, but then all of a sudden [Dontavius] Russell, [Michael] Hughes, Datone Jones, I mean you have guys now, big V [Kalani Vakameilalo] is a big body in there. We have guys now that are in there that are pretty good that it’s going to be a tough call.”
A “tough call” that might have gotten tougher — or easier depending on how you look at it — with the performance Jones put on Thursday and throughout the offseason. Against the Eagles, Jones was credited with three tackles and a quarterback hit, however, it was his persistent pressure and pocket collapsing plays that set him apart from everyone else.
Shortly after the game, reporters spoke to Jones about his strong play against the Eagles. “I just wanted to go out there and execute and compete. I felt like I started off really slow the first preseason game and I felt like I owed it to my teammates to go out there today, execute and put my abilities on film,” Jones said.
“[I wanted to] let guys like Calais [Campbell], Marcell [Dareus] and Yannick [Ngakoue] know that I’m here to compete and I want to be in the lineup with those guys. I want to be here in Sacksonville, sacking quarterbacks. Preseason is all about coming out here and displaying and competing and just having fun with your brothers. Executing, you know.”
It is clear playing behind the Jaguars starting defensive line, and seeing the culture within that group has lit a fire under Jones for the better. If he can provide the same production he has done in the past, the Jaguars may have one of the deepest defensive line groups in the entire league.
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