2019 free agents who may fit position of need and scheme to draw interest from GM Bob Quinn, coach Matt Patricia and the Detroit Lions.
Marlowe Alter, Detroit Free Press
Maybe all those theories about the Detroit Lions taking a quarterback with the No. 8 pick of the NFL draft aren’t so far-fetched after all.
According to NBC Sports, the Lions met with Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray at the combine last week, one of 60 formal interviews they had with draft prospects.
A formal interview isn’t necessarily a sign a team is interested in drafting a player. Teams use those interviews for a variety of reasons, and some request prospects before their pre-combine draft meetings even begin.
But for a Lions front office that has both publicly backed Matthew Stafford as its starting quarterback and said it will consider all options at No. 8, including a quarterback, it’s an interesting development nonetheless.
Asked about that dichotomy at the combine last week, why he’d consider taking a quarterback at No. 8 if he believes wholeheartedly in Stafford — a player he has under contract for four more years — Lions general manager Bob Quinn said he owed it to the organization to explore all options.
“I’m never going to say yes or no to one position at a specific time,” Quinn said. “If I have somebody graded that high, I’m never going to say that I can’t take whatever position it is, running back, receiver, quarterback at whatever number it is. If I do that then I’m eliminating guys off the board. And part of what we do is, like I’ve talked about since I’ve been here, is try to blend best available and need and sometimes it’s a combination of both.”
The Lions have bigger immediate needs than quarterback, and should be able to fill at least one of those in a defensive-heavy draft.
But Murray, who won the Heisman Trophy in his only season starting at Oklahoma, is an electric dual-threat player and one of the consensus top-2 quarterbacks in this year’s draft along with Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins.
“I would bet if we polled the teams now, we might be darn close to a 16-16 split between him and Haskins as the No. 1 quarterback,” NFL Network analyst Charles Davis said. “That’d just be my guess.”
Murray did not throw at the combine, but he had a good showing nonetheless as rumors ran rampant that the Arizona Cardinals would take him with the No. 1 pick of the draft.
He measured slightly taller than expected at 5 feet 10⅛, size Davis said made it “like all of a sudden he was Paul Bunyan,” and he weighed a heavier-than-expected 207 pounds.
“It’s not a big difference, but it is what it is,” Murray said Friday when asked about his measurements. “I think we can put it a lot to rest now. That’s fun.”
Murray, a first-round pick of baseball’s Oakland Athletics who is prepared to give up that sport to chase a football career, still has plenty of questions to answer as a prospect.
He started one season of college football after transferring from Texas A&M, and he’s not considered the same type of dynamic leader that his predecessor Baker Mayfield was at Oklahoma.
The Lions, if they truly are serious about Murray, would have to find a solution for their quarterback situation if they were to take him in the draft.
Stafford has four years left on the contract extension he signed in the summer of 2017, so the Lions would either have to trade him and take a $30 million cap hit (Stafford’s currently on the books for $29.5 million in 2019) or keep him as a one-year bridge to Murray and risk a fractious locker room.
Murray, who met with 10 teams at the combine, according to NBC Sports — the Lions, Cardinals, Raiders, Giants, Jaguars, Dolphins, Seahawks, Chargers, Washington and an unknown team — said going No. 1 overall would be “a kid’s dream come true” but that he’d be happy wherever he lands.
“I’ve never been the biggest guy on the field,” Murray said. “I’m always the smallest guy on the field. I’ve said it multiple times, I feel like I’m the most impactful guy on the field.
I’m the best player on the field at all times. That’s just the confidence that I have in myself and that my teammates have in me. I’ve always had to play at this height.
I don’t know. Everyone’s trying to make it out to be something, but I just have to go out there and play the game that I love.”