Kyler Murray NFL Draft Odds: Which Team Is the Best Bet?
Already a top-10 pick in the 2018 MLB Draft, Kyler Murray is heading to the NFL instead.
A top quarterback prospect who no longer looks like a risk to jump ship for another sport, Murray was the buzz of the NFL Scouting Combine when he measured up bigger than expected, standing 5-foot-10 and weighing in at 207 pounds. Per MockDraftable.com, that still makes him one of the smallest quarterback prospects we've ever seen. But after the success of Baker Mayfield, who MockDraftable has as Murray's closest physical comparison at the position, that doesn't appear likely to scare teams off of Murray.
Murray led the nation in both passing yards per attempt (11.6) and adjusted passing yards per attempt (13.0) in the 2018 season, completing 69.0% of his passes with 42 touchdowns and only 7 interceptions. Our Jim Sannes has him as the top quarterback in this class, and Murray lit it up against good college defenses.
With production like that, FanDuel Sportsbook has Murray as a whopping -1000 favorite to be selected within the first six picks of the 2019 NFL Draft. He's +500 to go between picks 7 and 14, and a huge +1200 underdog to be taken with pick 15 or later.
FanDuel Sportsbook also has betting odds set for 10 different NFL landing spots for Murray. Note that these odds are accurate as of March 5 at 1 p.m. EST, but betting action and breaking news can -- and will -- cause movement, so be sure to double-check the Sportsbook for the most up-to-date lines.
|New York Giants||+800|
|New England Patriots||+3000|
Let's get right into it and look at which teams are best bets to draft Kyler Murray.
The Favorites: Arizona Cardinals (+100)
Owners of the first overall pick, the Arizona Cardinals are odds-on favorites, with a +100 line that implies a 50.0% probability of taking Murray. But is it worth playing a line that implies so much certainty?
New Cards coach Kliff Kingsbury has reportedly stated that it is a "done deal" that the Cards will take Murray, and owning the top pick in the draft, nobody can stop them if that's their plan. The draft is also almost two months away, though, and it's hard to believe anything is remotely certain at this stage.
The Cardinals spent the number-10 pick in the 2018 draft on Josh Rosen, and doubling down with another quarterback wouldn't just be unusual, it would be unprecedented.
Looking back to the 2000 draft, no team has spent back-to-back first-round picks on quarterbacks, let alone back-to-back top-10 picks. In fact, only once has a team spent a first on the position twice in a three-year window, and that was the Cleveland Browns with Brandon Weeden in 2012 and Johnny Manziel in 2014. Those were both 22nd-overall picks, so not exactly the kind of hefty draft capital that would be in play here.
Of course, it's also not often a quarterback plays as poorly as Rosen did as a rookie, either. Using numberFire's Net Expected Points (NEP) metric, which measures the points above or below expectation a player adds on any given play, Rosen was historically inefficient. Adjusting for the league-average for Passing NEP per drop back (to account for the recent rise in passing efficiency), Rosen turned in the 26th-worst season we've ever seen from a quarterback with 100 drop backs since 2000 -- a sample that includes 845 data points.
When you add it all up -- Arizona owning the first overall pick, Rosen's historically bad quarterback play and Kingsbury's comments -- it understandable that the Cards are priced as favorites. But two months out from the draft, calling it a virtual coin-flip whether they make a dramatic, unprecedented personnel move is implying a lot more certainty than we have in this situation.
The play is to fade the favorites here, leveraging the uncertainty to find some better value at longer odds.
The Betting Values: Oakland Raiders (+450), New York Giants (+800), Denver Broncos (+1100)
The Oakland Raiders are a very intriguing option for a few reasons. The benefit of the fourth-overall pick is twofold. If Murray falls past number 1, the Raiders are really the next team that is a threat to grab him, with the San Francisco 49ers and New York Jets being highly unlikely landing spots.
Someone could absolutely trade up ahead of Oakland, but with Oakland owning the best pick -- as of now -- of any non-Cardinals team likely to be interested in Murray, it will also cost them the least to trade up. They have three first-round picks this year, so they have plenty of ammunition at their disposal. Unless the Cardinals are actually dead-set on taking Murray, Oakland will have by far the easiest time making a move to get Murray if they want to.
Derek Carr isn't an egregious quarterback by any stretch, but he finished 27th in Passing NEP per drop back this year among the 43 passers who had at least 100 drop backs -- not exactly encouraging for a fifth-year pro. Oakland also isn't priced into hanging onto Carr for the long-term. Per Spotrac, they'd take on $27.4 million in dead money if they cut him this offseason, but next year, that amount plummets all the way down to $5 million. Having a veteran around even with a highly-drafted rookie isn't uncommon (Cleveland last year, for example), so being locked into a Carr contract for one year isn't much of a deterrent to grabbing Murray. There's also the possibility that they could trade Carr to a team that is hungry for a quarterback.
The New York Giants don't have the kind of ammunition to move up that the Raiders do, but the G-Men won't need to go too far if they move up since they hold the sixth overall pick. There's also not much of a risk that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the team picking between the Raiders and Giants, are interested in Murray, so if Oakland and Arizona aren't interested, he could just fall to the Giants without them having to make a trade.
Again, we can't take coach-talk at the combine to mean a ton, but New York coach Pat Shurmur has said we should "fully expect" Eli Manning back in blue in 2019. General Manager David Gettleman has mentioned that "the Kansas City Chiefs model" worked well, though, so even if Manning is back it could be a one-year situation while a rookie gets some development as when Alex Smith started ahead of top-10 pick Patrick Mahomes in 2017.
The Denver Broncos may have traded for Joe Flacco, but Flacco's not exactly a "quarterback of the future" type. Spotrac lists no dead money should the Broncos decide to cut him at any point, and an investment of a fourth-round pick in the trade doesn't exactly lock up Flacco's roster spot. Adding Flacco is a (perhaps misguided) win-now move, and it says more about their lack of faith in Case Keenum than about their thoughts on the future of their quarterback position. The Broncos came in as numberFire's seventh-ranked defense in 2018, even as they went 6-10, so an upgrade at the quarterback position could make them playoff contenders again in the short term.
Flacco is 34 years old and didn't crack the top-20 in Passing NEP per drop back last year, ultimately being benched for a quarterback taken in the late first round. Potentially replacing Keenum already is a good sign that the Broncos don't have any faith in Keenum long-term, and with the 10th-overall pick, they're positioned well to attack the quarterback position in this draft -- particularly if they're pushing for a playoff spot next year, which would presumably lead to a worse slot in the 2019 draft. They don't have any extra early-round picks to make moving up easier, but sitting 10th means they don't have to go far if they do go that route. And while oddsmakers expect Murray to go in the top-six, 10th-overall isn't a huge fall, so there's a non-zero percent chance Murray could be on the board when Denver is on the clock.
The Long Shot: Jacksonville Jaguars (+1600)
The Jacksonville Jaguars' odds plummeted not long after the betting lines were released. They were +600 until news broke that they are expected to sign Nick Foles. It's no surprise that they're ready to give up on Blake Bortles after giving Cody Kessler four starts last year. But even if signing Foles is a done deal, that's not exactly a guarantee that they're finished addressing the quarterback position.
Like Denver, the Jags are a team that can be in the playoff hunt if they can get even moderate offensive play. Our metrics had Jacksonville ranked ninth on defense in 2018, and they're only one season removed from making an AFC Championship Game appearance with Bortles at the helm. Foles has played well in bursts, and obviously, his 2017 playoff run was excellent, but he's also never really proven himself to be a long-term answer at the position. In two seasons of regular season action in Philadelphia, he posted a Passing NEP per drop back of 0.10 -- the same as Joe Flacco recorded in 2018. Comparing his Passing NEP per drop back to the league average, he has finished with below-average marks in six of his eight pro seasons.
The Jags hold the number-7 pick in the draft -- making it even easier for them to either trade up or have Murray fall to them than it is for Denver. This +1600 line reflects a high level of certainty in Nick Foles, which may be misplaced. At a minimum, if Murray were to be available when Jacksonville was on the clock, they'd surely have to think long and hard about it.