John Elway on Kyler Murray: ‘He’s got the opportunity to be a great player’

John Elway at the NFL Combine. Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski, USA TODAY Sports.
John Elway at the NFL Combine. Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski, USA TODAY Sports.

With the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine starting, draft season is officially underway, as is the speculation surrounding who the Broncos could take with the tenth overall pick.

Of course, the Broncos have been rumored to be in love with Drew Lock, but there’s also Kyler Murray and other quarterbacks Denver could go after at No. 10. On Wednesday at the Combine, Elway was asked about Murray specifically, and the Broncos general manager John Elway was quick to give some positives — and negatives — about the soon-to-be NFL QB.

“He’s a great athlete and has had a great career. The one year he played at Oklahoma was great there and shows he’s a great athlete,” Elway said. “Obviously, the size is always the question, but we’ve seen guys that have had success in the league that are not necessarily the prototypes as far as when it comes to height. He’s got the ability to be a great player.”

Elway was also asked about how height could affect a quarterback’s play, as Murray’s height has been the largest question mark surrounding him. Elway explained, “I will say this, having played the position: When you’re shorter and you’re in shotgun, it doesn’t have nearly the effect because you see much better out of shotgun.”

Without a doubt, the GM loves giant quarterbacks, like Brock Osweiler (6’7″) and Paxton Lynch (6’7″) as his mold for the prototypical gun-slinger. Elway, at 6’3″ tall knows the importance of seeing over the top of beastly offensive linemen when trying to make reads downfield; Murray, at only 5’10” will have difficulty when not in the shotgun.

Which is exactly where Elway threw some water on the Murray to Denver fire by saying, “So, really, the height from shotgun doesn’t matter nearly as much if it does if you’re coming out from underneath center all the time because by the time you get back there the pocket a lot of times is caving on you. That’s where height does matter a little bit more.”

The Broncos new offense under Rich Scangarello will have the quarterback under center a good amount of time, setting up the all-important play-action passes and keeping the play-calling balanced between the run and pass attacks. It was part of the reason the team went after Joe Flacco, and his successor will need to be able to go under center often, too.

“I think you can only do so much in shotgun in the running game,” the Broncos executive said. “And I think being underneath the center, if you want to run the football and have balance, you’ve got to be able to be underneath the center.”

If Elway believes height is so important to being a balanced quarterback, his lack of stature certainly hurts the Broncos’ odds of drafting Murray.

What about that run game? Royce Freeman and Phillip Lindsay were drafted last year by the Broncos, and when asked about the pair, he said, “We feel really good about both of them. I think they’re both a good combination and a change of pace. The size difference that we have, we’re excited about the years that they had. We have big plans for Phillip as well as Royce to get them both involved in the passing game as well as the run game.”

That should be music to the ears of many Broncos fans, who were driven to the point of madness last season by Bill Musgrave‘s unwillingness to put the ball in the hands of Lindsay and Freeman.

Though, Freeman and Lindsay aren’t the only members of the 2018 Draft class that John Elway is excited for, as he also gushed about second-year receivers Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton.

“[Sutton and Hamilton] both got better. I think that greatest thing for them is the fact that they got a lot of playing time late because of the injuries we did have. We have high expectations for them that they’re going to make that jump from the first year to the second year.”

If Sutton and Hamilton are able to make the leap, the Broncos would have their most talented stable of receivers since Wes Welker retired. One of the most interesting bits of Elway’s press conference came at the end when he was asked about the departure of Gary Kubiak.

“Gary and I have been together for a long, long time, and I’ve got a great deal of respect for Gary and always will have and will always be great friends,” Elway said. “But it was just a situation that it didn’t work out between us. I wish him the best up in Minnesota. I’m sure they’ll have a lot of success up there, but I’m happy also with the way that everything fell for us, too.”

It will certainly be interesting to see what the Broncos’ offense looks like, completely devoid of Kubiak’s influence for the first time since the 2014 season. And, Kubiak will have his chance at revenge against the Broncos when the two teams battle in Minnesota this year.

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