He can see it now.
Danny Kanell, former regular-sized NFL quarterback, can envision Kyler Murray standing in a T-shirt and shorts with the other players at his position at the NFL Scouting Combine, looking very much like someone who does not belong.
“He’ll look tiny,” Kanell told The Post on Thursday. “I’m sure he could walk in and out of the combine and nobody would even know he was partaking in the drills. He would get his ID double-checked at the door trying to get in.”
This is one of the major hurdles Murray must overcome if he is to take a swing at an NFL career as a quarterback after a hugely successful season at Oklahoma, as he beat out fellow quarterbacks Tua Tagovailoa and Dwayne Haskins to win the Heisman Trophy. If Murray makes good on his vow to enter the NFL draft — even though as a baseball prospect, he was a first-round pick of the Oakland A’s — it will be a frenzy as NFL talent evaluators try to determine whether this dynamic, diminutive player can make it in professional football.
It is an evaluation the Giants will have to make, as they hold the No. 6 pick in the draft and might use it to find the eventual successor to Eli Manning.
“I would not waste a first-round pick on him,” Dan Shonka, national scout and general manager of Ourlads, an NFL scouting service, told The Post.
It remains to be seen if this is the consensus opinion once Murray is studied more carefully and assigned a grade on draft boards around the league. A three-time Texas high school state champion, Murray started his college career at Texas A&M before transferring to Oklahoma.
He sat out the 2016 season and served as the backup to Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield in 2017. Murray made his one year as a Sooners starter count in a big way, completing 69 percent of his passes for 4,361 yards, 42 touchdowns and seven interceptions. A bona fide threat as a runner, he rushed for 1,001 yards and 12 touchdowns.
A fleet center fielder, Murray was taken by the A’s with the No. 9-overall pick in the 2018 MLB draft and received a signing bonus of $4.66 million. He will have to return that bonus if he in fact does not report to the A’s and eschews baseball for the NFL.
In his list of the top 50 prospects in this year’s draft, Tony Pauline of DraftAnalyst.com lists Murray at No. 48, assigning a second-round grade. Pauline calls Murray a “rare athlete who beats opponents with his arm or legs. Built more like a third-down back rather than a quarterback.” Murray is the fourth quarterback on Pauline’s value board, behind Dwayne Haskins (No. 11), Daniel Jones (17) and Drew Lock (34).
Gil Brandt, the former Cowboys vice president of player personnel who hosts a show on SiriusXM NFL radio, said Murray has “a big-league arm’’ and called him “a big-league athlete.’’
Brandt said he is anxious to see how Murray stacks up working alongside Haskins at the scouting combine, which takes place in late February in Indianapolis.
“The guy is fast, he’s athletic, and he’s a quality individual,’’ Brandt said. “ … I think Kyler Murray can take a team and win with a team in the NFL with him at quarterback.’’
Before any of that can take place, Murray must show he is big enough to compete with the big boys. He is listed at 5-foot-11 and 195 pounds, but no one really believes that.
“I’m telling you, this kid is 5-7,” Shonka said.
To find out, Shonka said he called scouts in football and baseball to see exactly how Murray measures up. A baseball scout listed Murray at 6-1. “I asked those guys if they were drunk,” Shonka said.
“I talked to some people who saw him up close … and they said he’s not even 5-8.”
Kanell, a fourth-round pick out of Florida State in 1996, started 10 games for the Giants and lasted six years in the NFL at 6-3. He wonders if Murray is big enough.
“He’s listed at 5-11, he’s probably closer to 5-10, but I think there’s a chance he could be 5-9 ¹/₂,” said Kanell, a host on SiriusXM’s Mad Dog Sports Radio channel. “If he’s 5-9, scouts will run the other way.”
Murray’s weight of 195 is also probably a generous listing. Michael Vick survived in the NFL at 6-foot and enjoyed some considerable success, but he was taller and, at 215 pounds, much more solidly built than Murray.
“He’s just gonna get beat up,’’ Shonka said. “A guy that small, he can throw to the seams once in a while, but man, you can’t throw over the top of those towers that are coming at you. First thing you got to worry about is durability and his strength.”
He’s competitive and he’s productive, but that’s in college and it’s hard to project a little guy like that.”
As a pure talent, though, Murray stacks up.
“The kid is a very good athlete and he’s an explosive runner,’’ Shonka said. “Until this kid can throw from the pocket, you don’t have a quarterback.’’
Kanell called him “a stud,” but with a caveat.
“I think he’s an incredible talent, but he does have more significant hurdles to overcome than Baker Mayfield because he is about 2 inches shorter than Baker and more on the slight side,” Kanell said. “Not as strong as Baker Mayfield, or not as strong as Russell Wilson, who he’s getting compared to a lot.”
NFL teams must also worry Murray will convert to baseball, a gamble for any team taking him high in the draft.
“With all the issues Kyler Murray has to get past with … his diminutive stature, he’s got another problem because in the back of every GM’s mind, they’re probably thinking, ‘Is there a guarantee this guy is going to play football, or is he going to use it for leverage?’ ” Kanell said. “Those questions are very real.’’
Shonka said: “I would not touch the guy, no matter what, before the second round.’’
Kanell envisions a team with an established quarterback in place taking a shot on Murray late in the first round or in the second round. He would not advise that for the Giants, who at some point have to address life after Manning.
“If I’m the New York Giants I’m probably looking at Dwayne Haskins as their best option,’’ Kanell said. “It’s a lot safer.’’
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