Kyler Murray came off as a bright and personable young man as he fielded question after question from the gaggle of media surrounding his podium at the NFL Combine just more than a week ago.
As myriad queries about his height and weight and his decision to choose football over baseball were fired toward the Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback, he handled them the way he handled a torrid pass rush. He was a calm and cool customer.
So, when Charley “Get off my lawn!” Casserly blistered Murray for his performances during interviews, it seemed strange.
“These were the worst comments I ever got on a high-rated quarterback, and I’ve been doing this a long time,’’ the 70-year-old Casserly, an NFL Network analyst and former NFL scout and general manager, said. “Leadership – not good. Study habits – not good. The board work – below not good. Not good at all in any of those areas, raising major concerns about what this guy’s going to do.’’
Casserly acknowledged he was not in on any of the interviews and was relating info from others. For Casserly to rip into a young man he has never spent any time with seemed over-the-top unfair. If you watched Murray perform and studied his tape and still don’t like his game, fair enough. But to go scorched earth on a guy’s leadership skills (he powered the Sooners to the college football playoffs) and study habits (he did enough in one season as a starter to win the Heisman) without ever spending as much as five minutes with him, is weak. It smacks of attention-grabbing.
Murray was quickly defended by those who actually have spent time with him — his college coach, Lincoln Riley, and his agent, Erik Burkhardt.
Speaking on “The Dan Patrick Show,” Riley pointed to Murray’s numbers as evidence of his potential. Murray threw for 4,361 yards and 42 touchdowns in 2018.
“As far as processing offense, he just had the greatest single season in the history of college football, so I think he can process just fine,’’ said Riley.
Some other post Combine thoughts:
■ According to a league source, there’s been a groundswell among some owners for expanding rosters. Though no specific plan has been discussed, proposals would include increasing the number of active roster players (currently 53), game-day rosters (currently 46), and practice-squad rosters (currently 10).
■ The Patriots didn’t meet with a ton of quarterbacks (if any) at the Combine and that could be an indication of how highly they think of Danny Etling, who was plucked in the seventh round last season.
A smart player, Etling had a very strong summer, showing off a strong arm and some nifty athleticism — who else remembers that 86-yard touchdown run against the Giants in the exhibition finale? He spent the entire season on the practice squad.
Practice windows for the media are limited during the season, so getting a handle on how much Etling improved over the course of the season is tough, but because he was brought on road trips (certainly not a given for practice squadders) is a strong indication of how highly the team thinks of the LSU product.
With a dozen picks in next month’s draft, the Patriots probably will take another QB but don’t sleep on Etling. He’ll be a guy to watch during the spring and summer. It will be interesting to see how much he’s improved with a year in the program under his belt.
■ A lot of the discussion in Indianapolis were about rumors that the league is looking to move the Combine. The scuttlebutt was that a higher-profile venue such as Los Angeles or Las Vegas would be more suitable, especially if the NFL was looking to move some events into prime time.
Sure, the weather probably would be better in either of those cities, both of which will be opening new stadiums in 2020, but Indy is a pretty perfect site. The convention center is massive and modern and it’s adjacent to Lucas Oil Stadium.
There are tons of hotels and restaurants in the area and plenty of hidden spots for private meetings among teams, agents, and media. While it’s never balmy in Indy in February, the skywalks that connect virtually every downtown building eliminates most of the weather worries.
Having the event located in the Midwest makes it a simple – and affordable – destination for everyone. Moving to the West Coast would be an inconvenience to East Coast teams and many media outlets could choose to stop covering the event, citing travel costs.
■ Trey Flowers is arguably the top defensive end scheduled to hit free agency next week and likely tops the Patriots’ priority list when it comes to offseason matters.
It would be hard to find a Patriots fan who didn’t want Flowers back rushing the passer and setting the edge for this defense, so his comments surely warmed the hearts of many when he appeared at a Springfield Thunderbirds game last week for the AHL team’s Military Appreciation Night.
Flowers told the crowd, while touching the Vince Lombardi Trophy, “This is six, we want seven! We want seven!’’
Perhaps Flowers was just caught up in the emotion of the moment but perhaps he gave a hint as to where he’d like to continue playing, too.