Report: A’s top pick Kyler Murray likely to enter NFL Draft

A’s could lose Murray to the NFL

MIAMI, FL – DECEMBER 29: Kyler Murray #1 of the Oklahoma Sooners reacts after the play in the third quarter during the College Football Playoff Semifinal against the Alabama Crimson Tide at the Capital One Orange Bowl at Hard Rock Stadium on December 29, 2018 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

The chances of Kyler Murray ever playing a single inning of baseball for the Oakland A’s organization may have just taken a severe blow.

According to The Chronicle, Murray is expected to capitalize on his Heisman Trophy-winning season at Oklahoma by declaring for the NFL Draft Sunday, one day before the deadline for underclassmen to declare.

The thought of Murray choosing football over baseball back in June when he was drafted ninth overall was a pipe dream at best, but after leading the Sooners to a 12-2 record this season as they reached the College Football Playoff semifinals before falling to Alabama, the redshirt junior appears ready to cash in on a wildly successful season.

Murray’s size is obviously a concern, but even though he’s probably smaller than his listed 5-foot-11, 195 pound-frame, Murray has still received a first-round projection from ESPN NFL Draft expert Todd McShay, along with a second-round projection from fellow expert Mel Kiper Jr.

According to the report, it’s unlikely Murray will be able to play both sports. The A’s would hold the quarterback/outfielder’s rights should his NFL dream fail, but Murray would have to return the nearly $5 million signing bonus he received from the A’s after being drafted. Though a compensatory pick is often awarded in similar situations, that would not be the case here.

ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported Thursday that the A’s do still expect Murray to be in camp for spring training with the big league club next month and remain there up until March 14, when the team leaves for a week of exhibition and regular season games in Japan. The A’s would then plan on starting out Murray’s minor league career at High-A Stockton, bypassing Low-A Beloit.

But should we really be all that shocked Murray is choosing football, the sport he’s loved all his life growing up in football-crazed Texas?

Aside from the grueling journey through the minor leagues that awaits any prospective baseball player, even high-profile ones like Murray, the signs of him not being fully sold on the whole baseball thing have always been there.

The past month has been littered with various outlets peppering the 21-year-old two-sport star with questions of whether or not he will actually pursue an NFL career. With the chance to put an end to those speculations, Murray didn’t exactly douse the flames, with quotes like this one, given to Tim Tebow during an ESPN College Gameday segment last month:

“I think that’s something me and my family will talk about at the end of the season and weigh out the options of what the NFL thinks of me,” Murray said.

This is a kid who earned the honor of Mr. Texas Football twice in high school after going 43-0 as quarterback at Allen High. His father, Kevin, was also drafted to play baseball by the Milwaukee Brewers in 1982 out of high school, but went on to Texas A&M where he starred as a quarterback. Kevin went undrafted, landing a brief stint with the San Francisco 49ers before heading to Canada for a season and retiring due to an ankle issue, so why shouldn’t Kyler want to take the Murray name to the next level in football knowing very well he could be a first-round pick come April?

Overall, it’s a bad look for the A’s to have essentially wasted a top-ten pick on a baseball player who decided to choose another sport. The only good that could perhaps come out of this is the A’s getting the $5 million back and using towards a player who could help them continue the success generated from last season unexpected playoff run.

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