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Dan Bickley

Kyler Murray brings an attitude and edge to the 2019 NFL Combine

Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray (1) looks to pass, during the second half of the Orange Bowl NCAA college football game against Alabama, Saturday, Dec. 29, 2018, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

INDIANAPOLIS – Kyler Murray comes with a slice of attitude.

He doesn’t engage easy with the media. He doesn’t get why being small is such a big deal. At first impression, he seems a little aloof.

Maybe that’s what happens when your world changes overnight.

“I’m loving this whole experience,” Murray said of the NFL Scouting Combine. “I showed up. They told me to put my hand down. Told me to stand here. And that’s what I did. And everybody made a big deal of it.”

It’s uncertain if Murray is scoffing at the process or just embarrassed by the sudden spotlight. In Indianapolis, he is surrounded by the best athletes in college football, along with 1,400 credentialed media members lingering on the periphery. There are giant televisions everywhere, and he seems to be on every one of them.

“You can’t get away from it, but it is what it is,” he said.

Now that his measurements have been validated, you wonder how Murray’s personality is playing on the speed-dating interview circuit at the Scouting Combine. This is another reason why he’s a perfect fit for the Cardinals, as he already enjoys a trust and a comfort zone with new head coach Kliff Kingsbury. And vice versa.

“He’s always been very fond of me, and I respect that, and I’ve never taken that for granted,” Murray said. “He’s always someone I could go to if I needed anything. It’d be fun.”

During his official media interview, Murray also said he’d love to play in New York, alongside Saquon Barkley and Odell Beckham Jr. His desire for the bright lights that come with the world’s media capital is certainly encouraging.

But he knows he’s an even better fit in Arizona. Because, for all the people on this planet he must prove wrong, Kingsbury isn’t one of them. He already knows what Murray can do, and how to make him even better on a football field.

“Coach Kingsbury, I know what type of offense he runs, obviously,” Murray said. “He recruited me out of high school. I have a great relationship with him.

“If I were to play under him, I think it’d be a great deal. But again, like I said, I don’t get to pick the players. All I can do is show up, be where I’m supposed to be, work hard and get after it.”

There is a growing feeling in Indianapolis that the Cardinals won’t pass up this dizzying confluence of events, the appointment of a college head coach and the availability of a player Kingsbury has been wanting for years. It’s too powerful to pass up, in my opinion.

Murray’s biggest obstacle in Indianapolis has been convincing NFL types that he’s committed to football for the long haul. That he won’t take his $23 million signing bonus and slink away to Major League Baseball after a few years.

In a combative moment with a media member, Murray was asked if Bryce Harper’s $330 million guaranteed contract had gotten his attention. He responded tartly:

“Everyone makes a big deal of him making $300 million,” Murray said. “There’s quarterbacks making more per year than him.”

But he’s right. Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan and Matthew Stafford have a higher annual wage. It seems fairly clear that Murray is absolutely convinced he is going to be a special talent in NFL. And why wouldn’t he?

Over 98 percent of his football career, he’s been the best player on the field.  And nothing has changed, other than the world around him.

“I’ve never been the biggest guy on the field,” Murray said. “I’m always the smallest guy on the field. (But) I’ve said it multiple times: I feel I’m the most impactful guy on the field and the best player on the field all the time. That’s just the confidence I have in myself and my teammates have in me.

“Everybody’s trying to make it out to be something, but at the same time, I just go out there and play the game I love.”

Murray will run at Oklahoma’s Pro Day on March 13, and that’s when the hype and hyperbole will roll out of control. If his 40-time is blazing, he’ll ascend to the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft. It will be just a matter of who selects him, and if Arizona is brave enough to draft another quarterback the year after they snagged former UCLA star Josh Rosen.

But Rosen never won a Heisman Trophy. He never shredded Alabama’s defense in the College Football Playoff. He doesn’t have the athleticism, quickness and elusiveness needed to survive and thrive behind whatever offensive line Arizona rolls out in 2019.

During the week, Kingsbury said he knew early on that diminutive quarterback was going “to be a great one.” And great is a heavy word.

The kind you don’t pass up.

Reach Bickley at dbickley@bonneville.com.  Listen to Bickley & Marotta weekdays from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.

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Dan Bickley bio
Dan Bickley is the most influential sports media member in Arizona sports history, having spent over 20 years as the award-winning lead sports columnist for The Arizona Republic and AZCentral.com and almost two decades as a Valley sports radio talk show host. In spring 2018, Bickley made the decision to leave the newspaper to join the Arizona Sports team as host of the entertaining and informative midday show Bickley and Marotta, as well as bring his opinionated and provocative column exclusively to ArizonaSports.com.
Bickley’s journalism career began in his hometown of Chicago, where he was part of a star-studded staff at the Chicago Sun-Times. He chronicled Michael Jordan’s six NBA championships; covered the Olympics in eight different countries and attended 14 Super Bowls; spent three weeks in an Indianapolis courthouse writing about Mike Tyson’s rape trial; and once left his laptop in an Edmonton bar after the Blackhawks reached the Stanley Cup Finals.
He has won multiple awards, written two books, formed a rock band, fathered three children, and once turned down an offer to work at the New York Times.  His passions include sports, music, the alphabet, good beer and great radio. After joining Arizona Sports 98.7 FM, he couldn’t be happier