Big Moves Equals Massive Buzz
Arizona trading away Josh Rosen and drafting Kyler Murray No.1 overall is a massive statement about Murray’s promise. Especially notable is the fact that various quarterback analysts—including Peyton Manning—saw promise in Rosen’s play despite working behind a porous offensive line. Arizona made these moves and drafted additional promising skill players to accommodate Kliff Kingsbury’s offensive vision.
Kyler Murray’s fantasy outlook earns tremendous buzz. However, it’s best to view him as a hot-streak fantasy producer for only a portion of the year. Murray’s skill, scheme, and surrounding talent tell the story.
We often refer to skill as “talent,” but they are not the same. Talent also implies “what could be.” Injecting a quarterback’s growth potential into the first-year conversation will inflate the outlook. Instead, let’s keep it to what Murray can and can’t do right now because the most growth Murray will experience will occur after his rookie year.
- Creating time in the pocket and generating big plays off-script as both a runner and passer.
- A big arm with enough vertical accuracy to pose a threat to undisciplined defenses.
- Strong accuracy on quick-hitting plays in the short and intermediate ranges of the field.
- Murray overreacts to common types of pressure where he didn’t need to abandon easier solutions for ones with much higher risk.
- Conceptual and technical issues that cost Murray anticipation and timing with route progressions.
- Ball security.
Murray’s best immediate fit is with a quick-timing, zone-read system like the Eagles that borrowed a lot from Oklahoma’s scheme. Murray thrives on quick passes in the short and intermediate ranges of the field and the system minimizes his need to make full-field progression reads while navigating a pocket. Arizona’s scheme also wants to spread the field and find quick opportunities for chunk plays, using Murray’s legs as a threat to set up open zones in the middle of the field.
Murray will start immediately, but will the surrounding that wrecked Rosen’s and Carson Palmer’s seasons help Murray thrive all year? It won’t. Kingsbury’s long-term vision for an explosive option can succeed, but every offense needs competent line play to support its skill players—even elite talents.
As a prospect, Russell Wilson was superior to Murray at reading the field and maneuvering the pocket for easy and timely solutions. Still, Wilson’s production has been outside the top-15 fantasy quarterbacks for the first nine weeks of the year three of the past four seasons—at least until Seattle could find solutions to its line woes.
At best, Murray’s rookie mimics what we’ve seen from big-armed and mobile quarterbacks like Wilson, Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson—top-12 fantasy production for a stretch of the year. Drafting Murray is a bet on riding a hot production streak. If the offensive line improves and stays healthy happen early and then defenses will adjust.
More likely, it will happen later in the season after Murray acclimates to a porous line. It gives Murray stretch-run value, but you’ll have to plan accordingly.
Matt Waldman is a Senior Writer at Footballguys. The Rookie Scouting Portfolio (RSP) is the most comprehensive analysis of skill positions available to the public. Learn more about the RSP publication and post-draft package here.