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How will Kyler Murray’s height surprise impact Giants’ Draft decision?

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

INDIANAPOLIS – Kyler Murray, the most intriguing and perplexing quarterback in the NFL draft, measured about an inch and 20 pounds more than some expected on Thursday. To some teams that will matter a lot. It might even make him more likely to be drafted in the Top 5.

So what does that mean for his chances of getting drafted by the Giants?

Philosophies can change, but historically the Giants have been a team with a strong belief in measurables. They have a list of certain bench marks players are expected to hit at each position. They include, height, weight, speed, and specific numbers in position-specific drills. In the past it has been hard for scouts to sell a player they love to the Giants’ front office if the numbers aren’t there.

And for quarterbacks, a big measurable has always been size. Murray measured at 5 feet, 10 1/8 inches, even though many around the NFL have long assumed he was more like 5-9. He also weighed in at 207 pounds, which is just as important since many thought he played around 185 last season. But the Giants haven’t played a quarterback under six feet tall since Gary Wood (5-11) in 1966.

That’s why, as SNY reported a few weeks ago, a team source said Murray is “probably a little too small” for the Giants. That probably hasn’t changed even though Giants head coach Pat Shurmur professed a “size-doesn’t-matter” philosophy when he spoke to reporters on Wednesday morning.

“Times have changed. Quarterbacks come in all shapes and sizes,” Shurmur said. “You obviously have to watch them play. They need to be productive. They need to make good decisions. They need to know how to throw the ball accurately, throw the ball on time. They’ve got to lead their team to victories and they’ve got to do all the things necessary to play the position. That’s what we look at.”

A year ago, though, long before Murray was a consideration for the Giants, Shurmur actually expressed a preference for tall quarterbacks. When reminded of that on Wednesday, he said reporters were “digging into something” — whatever that means. He also pointed out that Russell Wilson, who is listed at 5-11, 215, has done pretty well for the Seattle Seahawks, even leading them to back-to-back Super Bowls and winning one.

“I don’t know what’s too small,” Shurmur said. “Russell Wilson is (5-11). When you watch (Murray) on tape, he’s an outstanding player. For a sub 6-foot player, he only had five balls batted down. That’s why I say you’ve got to really look at the player and how he competed, how he helped his team win games, how he moved his feet. You’ve got to look at all of it and then factor it in and decide if that player is for you.”

The Giants are still early in their evaluation process, but Shurmur said he’s seen every snap taken last season by Murray and Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins. Giants GM Dave Gettleman has seen both play in person, and he’s also seen Duke’s Daniel Jones, Missouri’s Drew Lock and West Virginia’s Will Grier in person, too.

Gettleman wouldn’t rule out Murray based on his lack of optimal height, either. In fact, he said there’s only one thing a quarterback could lack that would get him knocked off the Giants’ board.

“The non-negotiable (trait) for me is instincts,” Gettleman said. “There are guys with big, great arms, who are great athletes, but they can’t figure it out. I don’t think people talk about that enough. Instincts are critical.”

Murray clearly has those. He also has a mobility that most NFL teams think they need in today’s NFL, as the game gets faster, more offensive oriented, and offensive line prospects seem to get worse.

“In this day and age, with all the athletes on the field, at some point a quarterback’s got to make plays with his feet,” Gettleman said. “Making plays with your feet doesn’t mean that you have 4.4 speed. It’s the subtle pocket things that guys do. It’s the ability to do that. It’s important. That doesn’t mean you want that guy to rush for 1,500 yards.”

“It just means he has a way to clean his feet in the pocket or scramble when necessary,” Shurmur added. “Typically, if you’re going to have long drives and do it on a consistent basis, somewhere in that drive the quarterback has to do something with his feet to keep a drive alive or get a first down. Even guys that are not considered mobile, it might be subtle movement in the pocket. That mobility, I think, is very important. I think it’s essential, really, for a quarterback to have great success.”

So what will be more important: Murray’s mobility or his size? History suggests his measurables will win out for the Giants, especially if they decide they like the 6-3 Haskins, the 6-5 Jones, or the 6-4 Lock. Being 5-10 won’t rule Murray out, but it’s a factor the Giants will really debate when they begin discussing the quarterbacks. It likely will end up being a debate of size vs. speed.

“Size matters if you’re getting hit a lot,” Shurmur said. “Some of the quarterbacks that are smaller in stature avoid hits better than the bigger quarterbacks. It just all plays into it. And that’s just basically guys doing what they can with what they got.”

For the Giants, though, they’ve always preferred that their quarterbacks have height and size to work with. It seems unlikely that Murray’s other abilities will cause their philosophy to change.

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