Greg Cote

Big decision on a small QB, but here’s why Kyler Murray is perfect for Miami Dolphins

Kyler Murray: “I couldn’t go out with a bad taste in my mouth”

Kyler Murray, the Oklahoma Sooners quarterback, speaks to the press during 2018 Orange Bowl media availability at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens on Thursday, Dec. 27, 2018.
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Kyler Murray, the Oklahoma Sooners quarterback, speaks to the press during 2018 Orange Bowl media availability at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens on Thursday, Dec. 27, 2018.

The Miami Dolphins’ plan for the 2019 NFL Draft and for retooling into a franchise with a winning future came clear as an epiphany this week. Or should have, anyway.

The quarterback is small, the decision is big and there’s only one choice the Dolphins should be making about Kyler Murray, the Heisman Trophy winner from Oklahoma.

Go get him.

Make him your immediate priority.

Select him 13th overall in the April draft or even consider trading up if you must.

He is that good.

And the plausibility of Miami getting him came into view this week as Murray, also a first-round draft pick of the Oakland A’s, announced he had “firmly and fully” chosen football over baseball, underlining that commitment by walking away from the A’s waiting $5 million signing bonus.

Murray said he wants “to prove to NFL decision-makers that I’m the franchise quarterback in this draft.”

There were two major concerns about Murray and he erased one by unequivocally declaring, “I was born to play quarterback.” He cannot erase the other concern — he’s only 5-10, Lilliputian against the NFL ideal. On that it will be up to some smart team to decide his talent and upside merits making him the shortest first-round QB in NFL history.

ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr., who turned draft analysis into a year-round cottage industry, calls Murray “one of the most dynamic dual-threat quarterbacks I’ve ever seen.” Fellow draftnik Todd McShay says of Murray: “He has an electric arm and some of the best athleticism I’ve seen at the position in years.”

Murray will be the star attraction at the pre-draft NFL Combine in two weeks. His 40-yard dash will leave vapor trails.

Murray’s quickness allows him to take deeper dropbacks, which enables him better sight lines to make up for his stature. Talent overcomes height, even at that position. Last year’s overall No. 1 draft pick Baker Mayfield measured 6 feet 0.625 inches. Drew Brees is 6 feet. Russell Wilson is 5-11.

I’m 5-9 1/2. I stood next to Murray when the Sooners were here for the recent Orange Bowl game and he didn’t seem a millimeter over 5-10. Oh, but on talent, he could be the next Patrick Mahomes.

His decision this week to opt for football over baseball gave the Dolphins all the reason they need to fast-track their future and abandon any silly notion of tanking in 2019 in order to (theoretically) be able to draft Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa in 2020.

Tagovailoa as well as Oregon’s Justin Herbert both figure to be top-five overall picks in 2020. You have to be really awful to get a pick that high, or spend exorbitantly to trade up that far. It would be a real gamble for Miami to tank now and roll dice on of those top two QBs in ‘20.

No thanks. Make that no tanks.

The chances of Murray falling to Miami at 13th are reasonable. At least one of the QB-needy teams picking ahead of the Fins (likely the Giants at No. 6) will opt for Ohio State’s bigger and therefore safer Dwayne Haskins. Oakland (picking fourth), Detroit (eighth) and Cincinnati (11th) could decide their current QBs are good enough.

Arizona, holding the overall No. 1 pick, likely will decide it has far greater needs after trading up to pick QB Josh Rosen in the first round last year — despite new coach Kliff Kingsbury being so enamored of Murray while at Texas Tech. “Josh is our guy,” Kingsbury claimed Tuesday. (If the Cardinals did take Murray first, Rosen likely would be traded. Adam Gase really liked Rosen last year, but it’s a new regime now).

The danger spot for Miami could be Jacksonville picking seventh, as the Jaguars want to upgrade from Blake Bortles as much or moire than the Dolphins want better than Ryan Tannehill. (How about the two teams swap top picks, with the Dolphins throwing in Tannehill?)

The main reason Murray could fall to 13th with no trade up needed gets back to that height issue. A 5-10 QB taken in the first round would be unprecedented. Some of the same teams that would be salivating over Murray will run scared from him for the difference in height of the length of your thumb. But that’s the NFL, where teams are slaves to prototypes and measurables, where two-tenths of a second’s difference in the 40-yard dash can turn you from an elite prospect to marginal.

Murray would be Miami’s most exciting quarterback since Dan Marino retired 20 years ago — and biggest reason for hope since then.

He is too good to pass up. Too good not not aggressively pursue. Too good to watch become some other team’s answer.

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Greg Cote is a Miami Herald sports columnist who in 2018 was named top 10 in column writing by the Associated Press Sports Editors. Greg also appears regularly on the Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz on ESPN Radio and ESPNews.
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