Kliff Kingsbury finally got his man.
The Arizona Cardinals’ new head coach has been chasing Kyler Murray since before Murray even had a driver’s license. But on Thursday night, with the first pick in the NFL Draft, Kingsbury caught up with Murray at long last, selecting the Oklahoma quarterback No. 1 overall.
Murray this year and Baker Mayfield last year makes two years in a row the Sooners’ QB has been drafted with the No. 1 pick, which is unprecedented. Just as they became the first quarterbacks to win the Heisman Trophy back-to-back, this level of success is certainly a testament to the coaching acumen of OU’s Lincoln Riley.
But picking Murray and Mayfield at the top also is a treatise on the NFL’s willingness to evolve its long-held tenets on the game’s most important position. No longer is the league chained to its own archaic prototypes for what a quarterback should look like.
Mayfield was a shade over 6-feet tall. Murray is but 5-foot-10.
And it’s not just stature. The league is finally having success with quarterbacks who ran shotgun-based, up-tempo, wide-open offenses in college. Mayfield last year had a strong case to win rookie of the year. At the same time, former Texas Tech gunslinger Patrick Mahomes was named NFL Most Valuable Player.
The NFL used to be a place where Big 12 Conference quarterbacks went to disappear. Now, Big 12 quarterbacks look like the next step in the NFL’s offensive revolution.
“I applaud the NFL for finally, at least somewhat, loosening up and being little bit more open-minded,” Texas coach Tom Herman said Tuesday on the Big 12 coaches spring teleconference.
“There’s no question the NFL, the last several years, has gotten a lot closer in many ways to what’s happening in the college game,” Riley said. “I think they’re more open-minded to different kinds of players with different skill sets. I certainly think the success here recently of Pat (and) Baker in that league has helped validate that. And so yeah, it’s definitely a more open-minded approach.”
To read the rest of John E. Hoover’s Sporting News story on Kyler Murray’s selection as the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft, click here:
Columnist John E. Hoover is co-host of “The Franchise Drive” every weeknight from 6-8 on The Franchise in Oklahoma City and Tulsa, and appears throughout the day on other shows on The Franchise. Listen at fm107.7 in OKC, fm107.9/am1270 in Tulsa, on The Franchise app, or click the “Listen” tab on The Franchise home page. Hoover also covers the Big 12 for Sporting News and Lindy’s magazine and is a feature writer for Sooner Spectator magazine. Visit his personal page at johnehoover.com.