Five things we learned about the quarterbacks at their media day:
1. Murray put to rest height and baseball questions; won't participate in drills. Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray shook things up before everyone packed up for Indianapolis. The 2018 Heisman Trophy winner announced his commitment to football, turning down the Oakland Athletics after they drafted him No. 9 overall in the 2018 MLB Draft. The questions didn’t end there. Everyone wanted to know about his stature. He measured at 5-foot-10 and 207 pounds at the combine, the same height he was listed in college but 12 pounds heavier. At those numbers, he compares to 5-foot-11, 215-pound Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, who also had an opportunity to play professional baseball.
“I showed up and they told me to put my hand down, told me to stand here, stand there and that’s what I did,” Murray said of getting measured. “Then everybody made a big deal about it. … It’s not a big difference, but it is what it is. I think we can put it a lot to rest now. That’s fun.”
On the issue of baseball vs. football, Murray added: “Yes, it’s a final decision. I’m here. I’m ready to go. I was born a football player. I love this game. There was no turning back when I made this decision. I’m 100 percent in.”
Murray did not do anything else at the combine other than interviews. He said he will do “everything” at Oklahoma’s pro day on March 13. Why not at the combine? “That’s just the timeline that me and my family, my agent and my coaches felt was best,” he said.
2. Haskins is more concerned about “where” than “when” he is selected. Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins, who threw 50 touchdowns in his only season as a starter and finished third behind Murray in the Heisman Trophy voting, doesn’t care if he is the first overall pick or even the first quarterback off the board. He knows in the NFL it is all about the right fit.
“It’s not that important for me (to be No. 1),” Haskins said. “For me it’s about being with the right franchise, being with the right team and win a Super Bowl. Whether I’m the first quarterback taken, it’s all a blessing regardless of where I’m going or what pick it is per se. But I don’t really care how it works out -- QB1, QB2.”
In his announcement to stick with football, Murray wrote on Twitter: “I eagerly await the opportunity to continue to prove to NFL decision makers that I am the franchise QB in this draft.” Of course, people took note that he wrote “the” in the quote graphic. And coming from The Ohio State University, Haskins knows all about the use of definite articles.
“That’s good,” Haskins said. “I’m not worried about Kyler. I have to worry about me. I’m going to do what I need to do in meetings and out on the field ... to showcase my talents. I know I’m a franchise quarterback and can be a really great quarterback in the NFL.”
3. Giants connections are there. You can guess what Dave Gettleman and other general managers think about mock drafts and prospect rankings at this time of the year. “You’ve got Indy, you’ve got the workouts, we’ve got private visits, we’ve got interviews,” Gettleman said. “You can’t line them up now, and if anyone has them lined up now, God bless them. They’re smarter than me.”
Now let’s push all that sound logic aside. Haskins has been a frequent pick in the media for the Giants at No. 6. Why? 1) He’s pretty good. 2) The Giants know they need to find a successor to Eli Manning sometime in the near future. 3) Haskins is originally from New Jersey (moved to Maryland in ninth grade) and even attended some camps run by Giants Ring of Honor inductee Amani Toomer when he was little. Furthermore, Haskins played under Ohio State coach Ryan Day, who was on Chip Kelly’s Eagles coaching staff with Pat Shurmur in 2015.
“He taught me all I needed to know as far as preparing as a pro,” Haskins said of Day. “How to come to meetings, how to take notes, how to watch film, what coaches are expecting from you. So he gave me all the tools and it also helps that he knows all the coaches I’m talking to as far as meeting. Actually he should be here today. He’s really been the key to my success last year.”
Meanwhile, Duke’s Daniel Jones has a strong connection with the Manning family, particularly through David Cutcliffe. Before taking over as head coach of the Blue Devils in 2008, Cutcliffe helped mentor Eli and Peyton Manning, two former SEC Players of the Year who went on to be drafted No. 1 overall in their respective classes. With Eli, he was the Ole Miss head coach. With Peyton, he was the assistant head coach and ran the offense at Tennessee. So it wasn’t uncommon for Cutcliffe to pull up the brothers’ tape and show it to Jones during his tenure at Duke, where he threw 52 touchdowns and ran for 17 more in 36 career games. Jones was also named MVP of the Senior Bowl, and the Giants have drafted the two previous winners in Kyle Lauletta and Davis Webb.
“I think my biggest strength is my toughness,” Jones said. “It’s something I’ve always prided myself on, something I think that’s been a big part of why I’m here now. I think that, I think my ability to prepare, how important the mental aspect to the game is to me, I think I’ve been prepared well at Duke with Coach Cut, (deputy head coach/offensive coordinator Zac) Roper, everyone there. That part of the game and my will to compete separates me as well.”
4. Lock looking to build on momentum from Senior Bowl. Missouri’s Drew Lock was his normal affable self today at the podium while looking to stake his spot in the group. Just the ninth SEC quarterback to pass for 10,000 yards in a career, Lock is currently ranked No. 26 overall and No. 3 quarterback in Daniel Jeremiah’s top 50 on NFL.com.
“I’m not a quarterback from California, I’m not from Texas, I didn’t necessarily go to Alabama or some of the schools,” Lock said. “I went to Missouri and I’m proud of that, that I can put on for Missouri and for myself and for Kansas City, Missouri. Not typical of a Midwest kid to come out and be at the podium I’m standing at right now. That means a lot to me, and I think the Senior Bowl helped people see that a little bit. I’m hoping tomorrow will help me out some more.”
5. This year’s quarterbacks not worried about answering to 2018 class (or 2020, 2021). Many people are either looking behind or past this year’s quarterbacks class. Last year saw five of them taken in the first round, including four in the top 10. And then in 2020, people see names like Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa, Oregon’s Justin Herbert, and Georgia’s Josh Fromm as potential targets. And some have even gotten started on 2021, which could include Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence, MVP of the team's national championship game victory over the Crimson Tide.
“It’s an interesting question,” Gettleman admitted in his Wednesday press conference. “I think at the end of the day, you can’t say to yourself, ‘I’m going to get him next year.’ You evaluate the Q’s, and you take the guy when you believe he’s the guy and it’s at the right spot. You can’t worry about the future because now someone else is going to say, well, in two years there are a couple college quarterbacks that are coming out that are really amazing. Who knows?”
This year’s class isn’t worried about how it stacks up to past or future classes.
“I’m not worried about overrated or underrated, last year’s class or the class ahead of me,” Haskins said. “I know what I can do. I know what I can be. I’m just going to show that to the teams.”
The 2018 class was headlined by top pick Baker Mayfield, who preceded Murray with the Sooners.
“Bake’s success would be his success,” Murray said. “He did come from Oklahoma. That’s my guy. I wish him success, obviously. But again, I’ve got to do my thing. I’ve got to prove myself at this level. I hope he continues to do his thing. His success is his success.”