Riley likens Kyler Murray's ability to Barry Sanders

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Kyler Murray represents the most intriguing quarterback prospect in years as the Oklahoma product boasts a unique combination of speed, throwing ability and size concerns. NFL teams must decide whether the size issue is a deal-breaker for their franchise. Every other aspect of Murray's tape is stellar.

The biggest question with Murray is his slight frame, which teams could see as an issue that might lead to an injury-prone quarterback at the next level.

Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley rebuffed the notion that Murray's size will be a detriment, noting to Peter King of NBC Sports that despite his size, the quarterback does a great job of avoiding hits.

"His speed, obviously, is off the charts," Riley said. "He'll be the fastest quarterback in the NFL by a longshot the day he walks in the door. But on top of that, I think the things as a runner and athletically he brings, and his elite quickness, will be important. And then he just has a feel. He knows how to play the game. He knows when the moments are big and he needs to strain to get a first down. He's not going to take unnecessary hits. He's kind of got the body to withstand a few, but I almost compare him -- I know this is high praise -- but I mean, it's almost kind of like a Barry Sanders effect. Yes I'm small for the position but I'm so athletic and so smart that I just rarely take big shots. Kyler took a lot less hits even than Baker (Mayfield) did. A lot less. He was never really beat up after a game. The guy can stay healthy and he's pretty smart. He's got just a really, really unique skill set of having home-run speed but also home-run quickness to go with that."

Riley noted that during the 2018 campaign 85 to 90 percent of Murray's passes came from the pocket, which underscores that the speedy quarterback is more than a running novelty.

"Now, would you be crazy to draft a guy like this and not use his athleticism?" Riley said. "In my opinion, yes. But I think this guy can go and be in the pocket 75 percent of the time and be an extremely successful NFL quarterback. This guy can win from the pocket and that's what makes him unique. And he just gets the game, man. He just understands the right time of when he needs to check down. He understands game situations. He's played so much football in his life.

"I think too, in the NFL, I could see even giving people more problems than he did in college just because in our game, teams are used to seeing a pretty athletic quarterback almost every week."

Riley reiterated his belief that Murray's height (listed by the school as 5-foot-10) will be a non-issue. That the sub-6-foot quarterback is being considered a potential top-10 pick displays the notion that NFL evaluators might finally have dashed their prototype biases.

"I'm happy. Kudos to pro people, to talent evaluators and coaches," Riley said. "I think the NFL's evolved. I think they're getting out of this cookie-cutter mold and opening their eyes to guys who can play. Think about how many great talents potentially were out there that never got seen because they didn't fit the cookie-cutter mold? Just watch Kyler play. He's played quarterback most of his life, and he's always been one of the shorter ones, so to him, it's just football. Size doesn't matter."

Murray will have the chance to continue changing the narrative when he meets with teams at the NFL's Scouting Combine next week and at Oklahoma's Pro Day on March 12.

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