Sports

Kyler Murray: Height discussion starts with Giants

Congratulations to Kyler Murray who, upon fully committing to football, learned that he is probably too short to be picked by the New York Giants.

SNY’s Ralph Vacchiano, a long-time chronicler of Giants news, cited a team source who said that the 5′ 10″ Murray was ‘probably a little too small’ to fit in their system. He supplemented that with some old quotes from head coach Pat Shurmur, who has talked at length about desired quarterback height in the past.

“You’re trying to find sightlines,” Shurmur said last spring. “It’s no different for a quarterback when he is behind a very tall offensive line. All else being equal, as long as all the skill sets are equal or maybe even a little better than equal, guys that can see have a chance to be very good.”

Former NFL executive Mike Lombardi and long-time NFL scout Greg Gabriel explained that the theory likely stems from the team’s attachment to the George Young grading system—an age-old set of scouting guidelines that produced many of the team’s best players through four Super Bowls. Former general manager Ernie Accorsi once explained it to me like this: “It attaches a letter grade to your number rating as a player. On a nine-point system, if you earn a seven to eight, which is very high, but you were undersized compared to the average NFL specifications according to that position’s average size, they put a ‘C’ next to it.

So even if a player is a seven to eight, the “C” serves as a red flag. Teams would do the same thing with speed, quickness, awareness or other secondary attributes that all received letter grades. The grades would then disallow a club from choosing that player in the first round or, depending on the importance, the second round.

This won’t be the last time we hear about Murray’s height this draft season, but I also think it won’t be the last time we hear about adjustments to long-standing grading systems like Young’s (and, for the record, some people I spoke to with knowledge of the Giants’ operation said there has been some elasticity built in over the years).

Remember Jenny Vrentas’s story on small quarterbacks this winter? It cited Mike Giddings of ProScout Inc., saying that he sets the ideal parameters of a position based on a range of players who are performing well. Baker Mayfield wasn’t even an oddity in his current system, which draws players like Murray closer to the norm as well.

On one hand, you marvel at how one grading system with set-in-stone guidelines for height and weight performed so well over the course of a few decades. But, as teams have found success with an open mind, you also wonder how many great players fell through the cracks. Russell Wilson and Mayfield dented the door, but Murray has the chance to kick it in for good.

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