A month ago, Kyler Murray wrestled with the thoughts of turning down the Oakland Athletics and committing himself to playing in the NFL.
Now the Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback from Oklahoma is being discussed as the possible first pick of the draft. By crossing the 5-foot-10 threshold at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis by one-eighth of an inch, he shifted the conversation from whether he was tall enough to thrive as an NFL quarterback to how impressive his college game tape was, causing general managers and coaches to marvel at his athletic skills and playmaking ability.
Like Baker Mayfield a year ago, Murray has progressed from a possible late first-round pick to maybe going No. 1. The buzz coming out of the combine was that he probably would be among the first four picks.
He goes at the top spot in this projection of the first 32 picks in April’s draft:
1. Arizona Cardinals: Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma
Maybe there is some gamesmanship coming out of Arizona, with General Manager Steve Keim seeking to stoke some trade interest in the top pick by giving a lukewarm endorsement of incumbent starting quarterback Josh Rosen in Indianapolis. In particular, he could be hoping to convince the Oakland Raiders to come up to draft Murray.
But many left the combine last week convinced that the Cardinals were deciding between Murray and Ohio State edge rusher Nick Bosa. Rosen took down some pictures in Cardinals gear on his social media account, and he could be traded elsewhere if the team drafts Murray.
2. San Francisco 49ers: Nick Bosa, DE, Ohio State
The 49ers have a desperate need for a pass-rushing defensive end. While they might pursue one in free agency, getting Bosa with the second pick would be the ultimate gift. Bosa is considered the best player in the draft.
3. New York Jets: Josh Allen, OLB, Kentucky
The Jets need an edge rusher more than a dominating defensive tackle, which they already have in Leonard Williams, so Allen would be a great get. His 4.63-second 40-yard dash only helped his draft stock.
4. Oakland Raiders: Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama
Since trading Khalil Mack, the Raiders have had the league’s most desperate need for an edge rusher. Yet last week, Jon Gruden raised an interesting thought: In the current game, an inside pass rusher is just as important. Williams would be a great addition to the defensive line, but don’t underestimate Gruden’s desire to get Murray. A trade up to No. 1 is possible.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Rashan Gary, DE, Michigan
The Bucs could be tempted by the top cornerbacks in this draft, but Gary would give them much needed pass-rush help. They can’t pass on Gary, one of the most athletic defensive linemen in a loaded class.
6. New York Giants: Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State
Giants General Manager Dave Gettleman talked about following “the Kansas City model” at quarterback, having the experienced Eli Manning be a bridge quarterback for a year for a rookie as the Chiefs did with Alex Smith and Patrick Mahomes. In this scenario, they could grab a high-upside pocket passer in Haskins.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars: Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama
Jaguars executive Tom Coughlin might be tempted to jump the Giants to get Haskins, but if Jacksonville signs Nick Foles as expected, the team instead could look to improve the offensive line. Williams gets the nod over Jawaan Taylor here because Coughlin and Doug Marrone are going to want the more physical blocker.
8. Detroit Lions: Montez Sweat, DE, Mississippi State
With the expected loss of Ziggy Ansah, the Lions need pass-rush help. Sweat jumped ahead of other edge rushers with his incredible combine performance. He ran a 4.41 40, did well at the Senior Bowl and is a nice fit in Matt Patricia’s defense.
9. Buffalo Bills: Jawaan Taylor, OT, Florida
The Bills need to make three upgrades to the offensive line this offseason, including possibly at left tackle, which Taylor can play in addition to right tackle. The Bills could also consider adding defensive line help.
10. Denver Broncos: Drew Lock, QB, Missouri
Toward the end of the combine, there was a belief among many that Broncos executive John Elway would use this pick on a position player. But he also knows the importance of the quarterback position, and he could take Lock, who had the best throwing day among quarterbacks at the combine, as an eventual replacement for Joe Flacco.
11. Cincinnati Bengals: Devin White, LB, Louisiana State
With Vontaze Burflict’s status uncertain, linebacker is a primary need. White made his case to be drafted early even stronger by running a 4.42 at the combine and looking like one of the better linebackers to hit the NFL in the past few years.
12. Green Bay Packers: Clelin Ferrell, DE, Clemson
The Packers need an edge rusher, and aren’t even certain whether they will be bringing free agent Clay Matthews back. Sweat jumped Ferrell with his great combine, but Ferrell helps the Packers’ defense.
13. Miami Dolphins: Cody Ford, G, Oklahoma
The Dolphins will consider a quarterback here, particularly if they cut or trade Ryan Tannehill. But Miami has had offensive line problems for some time, and Ford is a fit.
14. Atlanta Falcons: Ed Oliver, DT, Houston
The Falcons used the franchise tag to keep defensive tackle Grady Jarrett, and a tandem of Jarrett and Oliver could be scary. Oliver is too good of a defensive player pass on.
15. Washington Redskins: Daniel Jones, QB, Duke
With Alex Smith almost certainly out for the season, the Redskins have to find a quarterback to compete with Colt McCoy for the starting job. Jones would give them a future hope if Smith still can’t play in 2020.
16. Carolina Panthers: Andre Dillard, OT, Washington State
The Panthers need pass-rush help, so they might consider Brian Burns of Florida State or Jachai Polite of Florida. But Dillard had an incredible combine and could be the best pass-blocker in the draft.
17. Cleveland Browns: Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson
General Manager John Dorsey has plenty of options at No. 17, but adding beef to the defensive is high on the offseason agenda. This Browns roster just keeps improving.
18. Minnesota Vikings: Greg Little, OT, Mississippi
Dillard would be a better fit here, but the Vikings have such a need for a blocker they can’t pass on Little, even though he didn’t have the greatest combine.
19. Tennessee Titans: D.K. Metcalf, WR, Mississippi
Metcalf is a freak athlete. He’s 6-3, 228 pounds, bench presses 27 times at 225 pounds and runs a 4.33 40. His college production is a bit of a question mark, but the Titans could use a top receiver to develop opposite Corey Davis.
20. Pittsburgh Steelers: Devin Bush, LB, Michigan
Inside linebacker is a need for Pittsburgh and Bush had an incredible combine. He ran a 4.43 40, and would give the Steelers more speed on defense.
21. Seattle Seahawks: Brian Burns, DE, Florida State
The Seahawks need another pass-rusher on the other side of Frank Clark, although it’s likely they will look to trade back a couple of times to collect more picks. If they’re lucky, they could move down and get Burns late in the first round.
22. Baltimore Ravens: Josh Jacobs, RB, Alabama
Undrafted free agent Gus Edwards is the current starting running back in Baltimore, and Jacobs is considered the only back to go in the first round. Still, don’t be surprised if the Ravens get into the Le’Veon Bell sweepstakes.
23. Houston Texans: Greedy Williams, CB, Louisiana State
This might be too low for Williams, who could come off the board as early as eighth overall to the Lions. The Texans could also look for offensive line help with this pick.
24. Oakland Raiders: Deandre Baker, CB, Georgia
The Raiders need help at every position. Baker is a quality cornerback who could provide an upgrade in coverage, particularly if the Raiders improve their pass rush.
25. Philadelphia Eagles: Byron Murphy, CB, Washington
Murphy added 15 pounds since the end of the season and is now at 190 pounds. His drill work at the combine was exceptional, even though he ran a 4.55 40.
26. Indianapolis Colts: Jaylon Ferguson, DE, Louisiana Tech
Adding a pass rusher is among the many things the Colts need to accomplish this offseason. Ferguson looked good in the Senior Bowl and could fit on the Colts’ defensive line.
27. Oakland Raiders: Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma
The Raiders are after Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown. Why not add his talented cousin?
28. Los Angeles Chargers: Jerry Tillery, DT, Notre Dame
The Chargers let defensive tackle Corey Liuget go and aren’t sure about the return of Brandon Mebane. Tillery would fill a need as an athletic interior lineman in the Chargers’ defense.
29. Kansas City Chiefs: Deionte Thompson, S, Alabama
The secondary is the prime need for the Chiefs. With Eric Berry being hurt for much of the past couple of years, the top safety in the draft could be the best option.
30. Green Bay Packers: Dalton Risner, OT, Kansas State
By taking care of the pass rush with the 12th pick in the first round, the Packers can concentrate on the offensive line, which became thin late in the season with injuries. Risner brings four years of experience to the Packers.
31. Los Angeles Rams: Dexter Lawrence, DT, Clemson
Ndamukong Suh isn’t expected to be back, so getting Lawrence as a nose tackle would be a natural fit. Lawrence suffered a quadriceps injury at the combine, but it’s not considered serious.
32. New England Patriots: T.J. Hockenson, TE, Iowa
With Rob Gronkowski getting older and considering retirement, and Dwayne Allen getting cut, the Patriots could choose here between Hockenson and fellow Iowa tight end Noah Fant, who put on a show at the combine but isn’t as good of a blocker as Hockenson.
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