Quarterback Kyler Murray, the Heisman Trophy winner as American football’s top collegiate player, is expected to be selected today by the Arizona Cardinals with the top pick in the NFL Draft.
The three-day event to allocate new talent to NFL clubs begins tonight in Nashville, Tennessee, with the Cardinals selecting first thanks to last season’s NFL-worst 3-13 record.
While the Cardinals have been silent about their plans, quarterbacks have been selected with the number one pick in 15 of the past 21 NFL Drafts and Murray has the talent to entice Arizona to continue that trend.
Murray, whose maternal grandmother was born in South Korea, completed 260 of 377 passes for 4,361 yards and 42 touchdowns with only seven interceptions last season for Oklahoma, which reached the national championship playoffs.
He also ran 140 times for 1,001 yards and 12 touchdowns, bringing the run-pass threat that has made several NFL quarterbacks a tough challenge for defensive units in recent years.
Murray, 21, was also a college baseball star outfielder for the Sooners baseball team who announced in February he was giving up any ideas of a baseball career to focus on his NFL effort.
The Oakland A’s had taken Murray with the ninth pick in last year’s Major League Baseball Draft but he walked away from their offer of $4.33mn (3.84mn euros) for the chance at more than $30mn as a top NFL Draft pick.
“Football has been my love and passion my entire life,” Murray tweeted. “I was raised to play QB, and I very much look forward to dedicating 100% of myself to being the best QB possible and winning NFL championships.”
Murray’s draft status has been dogged by questions over whether he is physically big enough to forge a successful career in the NFL.
At 5ft 10in (1.77m), Murray is relatively short for a quarterback, a factor which has reportedly weighed on some teams deliberations.
“I’ve never been the biggest guy on the field, I’m always the smallest guy on the field,” said Murray. “I’ve said it multiple times: I feel I’m the most impactful guy on the field and the best player on the field at all times.
“That’s just the confidence I have in myself and my teammates have in me. I’ve always had to play at this height. Everybody’s trying to make it out to be something, but at the same time, I just go out there and play the game I love.”
Should the Cardinals select someone else, the other highest-regarded prospects are defensive tackle Quinnen Williams of Alabama and defensive end Nick Bosa of Ohio State.
Bosa’s preparations for the draft meanwhile has been the subject of a social media controversy, with the defender wiping his Twitter account of a series of posts which criticised former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick and others which praised President Donald Trump.
The San Francisco 49ers are set to select second overall, followed in order by the New York Jets, Oakland Raiders, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New York Giants, Jacksonville Jaguars, Detroit Lions, Buffalo Bills and Denver Broncos.
The reigning Super Bowl champion New England Patriots receive the 32nd and last pick in the first round.
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