With the Super Bowl in the rearview mirror, it is officially NFL draft season. While this year's class lacks the depth of talent at the QB position we witnessed last spring, there are still several intriguing players at every position. The NFL Scouting Combine (March 1-4 on NFL Network) in Indianapolis will give us our only chance to see almost all of those prospects in the same place at the same time, and the list of 300-plus players invited to this year's event was released on Thursday. Which player will generate the most buzz in Indy? I reached out to five NFL personnel executives to get their thoughts. Here are their answers:
UPDATE: This post was published prior to Murray's announcement on Monday that he is fully committed to pursuing an NFL career.
"Murray will be the big story. Will he or won't he play football? How does he interview with teams? (His) Super Bowl media interviews were a mess. Overall, I think the QB field is wide open. Will one of them separate from the pack? That's what I'll be following."
"I would say (Mississippi State DE) Montez Sweat, but he already generated enough buzz when he walked across the stage at the Senior Bowl. I'll go with Devin White. I've been told he's consistently running (the 40-yard dash) in the 4.4s and that will create some attention. Also, I wouldn't sleep on (Iowa TE T.J.) Hockenson. He's more athletic than people think."
Executive 3: Murray
"It's a QB league and Murray is an outside the box prospect. Teams are anxious to get to know him. The Dan Patrick interview (last week) confused me. Teams want to find out where he is with baseball. Those conversations will generate a lot of buzz. Also, if he runs and tests, it'll be quite the show. He can fly!"
Executive 4: Murray
"It's got to be Murray. We've all been told what he'll measure and run but I want to see it for myself. Also, it will be interesting to see if he's still so wishy washy when asked about baseball."
"I'll take Rashan Gary. It feels like it's been a little quiet about him for how gifted he is. If he runs (the 40) in the high 4.5s at 280 pounds, that will change right away."
Summary: That's three votes for Kyler Murray and one apiece for Devin White and Rashan Gary.
Conclusion: It's not a surprise to see Murray's name pop up several times. There is an infatuation with him in the personnel community right now. White and Gary are both athletic freaks and it'll be fun to watch them run and jump during the workouts. I believe they'll both be selected very early in the first round.