For about an hour on Tuesday, ESPN’s Mel Kiper dished on the 2019 NFL Draft on a teleconference with the media.
Some of the most interesting bits of the call were when Kiper talked about Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray. But that wasn’t all. Here’s the best of what Kiper discussed:
Kyler Murray is definitively a QB but shouldn’t be compared to Dwayne Haskins
Almost every year there’s an athletic quarterback in the draft who is invariably forced into a different position by some analysts. Most recently Bill Polian, then of ESPN, said Lamar Jackson is a wide receiver.
What then, of Kyler Murray? He’s obviously a great athlete, who is giving up baseball for football. But despite being a relatively undersized 5’10, Kiper said he “definitively” views Murray as an NFL quarterback.
“His arm strength, his accuracy, his football IQ — today’s NFL suits him perfectly. He’s a quarterback all the way,” Kiper said. “Now, is he the fourth pick of the draft to Oakland? Is he a guy who goes 11 to Cincinnati? 13 to Miami? Does he in fact go ahead of Dwayne Haskins? He could. He’s a bit of a wild card.”
Kiper continued on about the Murray vs. Haskins debate, two quarterbacks who are so dissimilar stylistically. While Murray excels when he can throw outside the pocket, the Ohio State quarterback is much better standing behind his line as a pocket passer.
“To compare him to Dwayne Haskins isn’t fair, because they’re totally different quarterbacks,” Kiper said. “Their style of play would change the way you go about your business if you bring him in. And Haskins is a traditional, drop-back pocket passer, while Kyler can do everything. He can throw from the pocket but you want him outside the pocket.”
There’s no consensus on Drew Lock
After Murray and Haskins, the most likely quarterback to land in the first round of the draft is Missouri’s Drew Lock. Although he had a rocky college career, Lock did well for himself at the Senior Bowl and has momentum leading into the NFL Scouting Combine next week.
Inside the first 15 picks, the most likely teams to take a quarterback are Washington (pick No. 15), Miami (No. 13) and the New York Giants (No. 6). The Denver Broncos with the 10th pick were in contention for a quarterback, but that may not happen with the team trading for Joe Flacco. Kiper thinks if the Broncos trade down in the first round, they could still be in play for Lock after being widely linked to him for much of the offseason.
Still, Kiper says there isn’t much agreement from his NFL sources on where Lock will land.
“He could be there in the late first, early second round,” Kiper said. “There’s no built-in consensus on where Lock is going to go. He’s got the big-time arm. He had a really good finish to the year with the last seven games.”
In his most recent mock draft, Kiper had Haskins going to the Giants, Murray to the Dolphins, and Lock to Washington. SB Nation had the same top three, but with Lock getting drafting by the Dolphins and Murray heading to Washington.
Keep an eye on what Mike Mayock and the Raiders do
With a combination of Jon Gruden, new general manager Mike Mayock, and having three first-round picks, Kiper said the Oakland Raiders the most intriguing team to watch this year in the draft.
“They have the three first-round picks. They have a chance next year and the opportunity to fill a lot of holes,” Kiper said. “They have decisions to make — the Antonio Brown situation in Pittsburgh and needing a receiving, they have the draft picks. Do they try and make a move there?
“Do they take Kyler Murray? Do they move Derek Carr? Do they stick with Derek Carr? Jon has always raved about quarterbacks like [Patrick] Mahomes and Russell Wilson and the like, so what’s his opinion of Kyler Murray and contrasting him and comparing him to Derek Carr?”
“So, I think it’s going to be, you talk about about a fascinating player, it’s Kyler Murray. The most fascinating team in this draft for obvious reasons is the Oakland Raiders.”
Josh Allen is a top-three lock
Kiper said there were three “elite” players in the 2019 NFL Draft. For Kiper, they are Kentucky defensive end Josh Allen, Ohio State defensive end Nick Bosa, and Alabama defensive tackle Quinnen Williams.
Of those three, Kiper had the most to say about Allen and where he could fall in the draft. Specifically, he thinks Allen is set for a top-three pick and is close to Bosa in terms of his overall grade. The San Francisco 49ers with the No. 2 pick and the New York Jets with the No. 3 pick are both in play for Allen.
“With his length and his size and his speed and the kind of kid he is, yeah, he’s right there,” Kiper said of Allen. “I still give Bosa the edge, but there’s no question if you’re looking for an edge rusher, whether the 49ers or the Jets, if you trade out of there you’re taking yourself out of the Josh Allen situation. I don’t think the 49ers or the Jets would want to do that.”
Mel Kiper the NFL GM?
During part of the call, Kiper was asked about Mayock going from NFL Network analyst to Oakland Raiders general manager, and if he had ever been considered for an NFL front office job.
As it turns out, Kiper could have become an NFL front office person in the 1980s with the Baltimore Colts. In 1983, the Colts drafted quarterback John Elway, even though he vowed to sit out football if they didn’t trade him. That, and an opportunity at ESPN, kept Kiper out of the NFL at the time.
“I had that opportunity in 1983 to work for the Baltimore Colts,” Kiper said. “Ernie Acorsi was going to bring me in and then it didn’t work out obviously with Ernie’s situation with the John Elway trade and the team moving, so I stayed doing what I was doing. Five months later, I decided to move on to ESPN.”
It turned out pretty well for Kiper, who is still at ESPN. But he also added that other NFL opportunities have popped up.
“There’s been other possibilities out there along the way that just weren’t something I was going to look into because I was very happy doing what I was doing and the situation at ESPN, so I’m not going to give up all that to go to work in the National Football League at that time.”